The Zika virus is spreading at an alarming rate all over South America. The virus causes severe birth deformities in babies whose mothers contract it through mosquito bites. El Salvador has even gone as far as warn women to avoid becoming pregnant for a full two years until the epidemic is eradicated. Women are now contemplating illegal and harmful abortion practices according to HuffPo reports:
The virus, which the Aedes aegypti mosquito transmits, is linked to the condition microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and severe developmental delays. Since Brazil confirmed the first case in May 2015, 21 other countries throughout South, Central and North America, including the United States, have since reported occurrences. Nearly 4,000 children have been born with microcephaly in the areas affected.
El Savador’s government advised women on Monday to delay getting pregnant until 2018 — an unprecedented recommendation — while Colombia, Jamaica and Ecuador called for shorter delays.
The problem in El Salvador’s case is that women who are already pregnant and contract the virus are still subject to the nation’s complete ban on abortion, which has already put dozens of women behind bars for murder. Health workers worry the law could drive many desperate women infected with Zika to seek dangerous, back-alley procedures.
“Imagine you’re pregnant already, and then you discover you have this virus, and then you discover that this virus causes this condition in the fetus,” said Anu Kumar, executive vice president of the global abortion rights non-profit IPAS. “Then you’re faced with the decision of, what do you want to do with this?”