Zika virus forcing Brazilian women to prevent motherhood

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Women in Brazil avoiding motherhood. Source: Fox News

Zika virus infection is becoming a cause of worry for all the Brazilian women who are either expecting a child or trying to conceive. According to a recent report, more than 50% of Brazilian women at procreative age are avoiding or at least trying to stay away from motherhood because of the recent surge of Zika virus.

Zika virus can spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus thereby posing a significant risk to the fetus. Brazil remains the most affected country by Zika virus and has seen a lot more deformations of the brain in infants born to mothers suffering from Zika.

Brazil has seen 1,845 cases of congenital Zika syndrome and 7,426 unconfirmed cases where the link to the virus hasn’t been acknowledged yet. The survey which was done in the month of June revealed that 55% of Evangelicals and 58% of Catholics are trying to prevent pregnancy.

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“There is an urgent need for Brazil to reconsider its policies on family planning and abortion, to help women who want to avoid the risk of having a baby with brain deformation,” said Dr. Debora Diniz, an anthropologist at the University of Brasilia.

“As indicated by the high proportion of women who avoided pregnancy because of Zika, the Brazilian government must place reproductive health concerns at the centre of its response, including reviewing its continued criminalization of abortion,” said Dr. Diniz and her colleagues in a letter written to the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Healthcare.

Abortion is prohibited in Brazil but after the outbreak of Zika virus, women are now legally challenging the strict rules made against the process of abortion. They are insisting on putting a hold on these laws for those infected by this virus.

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The survey was carried out on around 2,000 educated women, between the age group of 18-38. Their findings suggest that 66% of women from the north-eastern part of Brazil tried to prevent motherhood whereas only 46% of women did the same in the Southern part of Brazil.

“Black (64%) and brown (56%) women were more likely to report avoiding pregnancy than white women (51%), which also likely reflects the disproportionate impact of the epidemic among the most vulnerable racial groups,” experts said.