By Shanda Glover
This past February, I wrote a post on the rising Zika virus epidemic and how quickly it was spreading to different countries. At the time of the first article, the Zika virus had only spread to U.S states closest to the Mexican border specifically Texas and Arizona. However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there has been at least one case reported of Zika in all but seven states. However, all these cases have been traveled associated cases, meaning they were infected by the virus outside the United States.
The Zika virus is dangerous because studies show that it raises the probability that a pregnant woman may give birth to a child with severe microcephaly. Many women both in the United States and South America have chosen to have an abortion knowing that their child may be affected by the Zika virus. According to the Washington Post, the CDC received, between August 2015 to February, more than 257 requests from pregnant women wanting to be tested for Zika. Thankfully, of those, 97 percent tested negative for the virus.
However, since February, there has been two abortions, two miscarriages, and one child born with microcephaly reported in the United States, all caused by Zika.
The abortion debate still continues in South America. Most South American countries have strict laws prohibiting abortion, and access to birth control is often restricted. Countries including El Salvador, Nicaragua, Chile, and the Dominican Republic outlaw abortions even when a woman’s life is at risk. And that has yet to change even with the presence of the Zika epidemic.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the rising occurrence of the virus has encouraged many women to demand that these countries’ extreme abortions laws make exceptions in cases of microcephaly. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has called out for “laws and policies that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services” to be abolished in light of Zika.
Still nothing has changed.
For those who live in Idaho, you can sleep well knowing that Idaho has not reported any cases of Zika, but you should still be careful.
Zika is still present in South America and is rising in the United States. With 450 people affected in the United States, Zika is not something that we should ignore, especially since there is no vaccine to prevent it.