Brazilians against loosening protective abortion laws, resisting pressure to change in light of Zika virus

By Dave Andrusko

zika-virusreIn spite of an onslaught of international pressure, 51% of Brazilians (in the Associated Press’s words) “are against loosening Brazil’s strict anti-abortion laws even when microcephaly has been confirmed. Only 39 percent agree with a change in the law in such circumstances.”

Microcephaly has been associated with but not actually shown to cause microcephaly, a condition in which babies are born with undersized heads with subsequent health problems.

Earlier this month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad AL Hussein said, “Laws and policies that restrict her access to these [reproductive health] services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice.”

Last Friday the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that Zika infections have been confirmed in nine pregnant women in the United States, all of whom got the virus while visiting or living in places with Zika outbreaks.

The Associated Press reported

Since August, the CDC has tested 257 pregnant women for Zika; eight were positive, and a state lab confirmed a ninth.

— Three of the women have delivered babies; two of the newborns are apparently healthy, and one was born with microcephaly.

— Two had miscarriages, but it’s unknown if the Zika infection was the cause.

— Two women had abortions, one after scans showed the fetus had an undeveloped brain. Details were not provided for the second case.

— Two pregnancies are continuing with no reported complication.