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Pregnant Women with Zika Virus Have Abortions Before Microcephaly Is Confirmed

02/01/2016 - 10h39

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CLÁUDIA COLLUCCI
FROM SÃO PAULO

Pregnant Brazilian women diagnosed with Zika virus infection are resorting to secret abortions before they even confirm whether or not the fetus has been afflicted by microcephaly.

The cost of the procedure in private clinics ranges from US $1250 to US $3750.

Doctors reported cases of women who have already made that decision. All are married, possess higher education, are in good financial status and planned their pregnancies, but found themselves in despair over the possibility of the child developing the deformity.

For Paulo Leão, state researcher in Rio and a member of the Brasil sem Aborto (Brazil Without Abortion) movement, interrupting the pregnancy because of microcephaly or another deformity is "eugenics" (selective breeding).

In Brazil, abortion is only legal in cases of rape, maternal health risks and when the fetus is anencephalic.

With the rise in suspected cases of microcephaly linked to the Zika virus (there are 3448 in the country), one group of lawyers, academics and activists has articulated a petition asking the Supreme Court for the right to abortion in cases of deformity.

The cases of microcephaly linked to Zika are being observed with a mean of 28 weeks of pregnancy and a standard deviation of 5 weeks (more or less). This makes it difficult to, technically, terminate the pregnancy.

Even legal abortions tend to take place around the 20th week, when there is no chance for the baby to survive, even a few hours, outside of the womb. The exceptions being cases where the mother's health is at risk. In those situations, the procedure is done at any time.

Translated by SUGHEY RAMIREZ

Read the article in the original language

Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters
Gleyse Kelly holds the head of her daughter Maria Geovana, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil
Gleyse Kelly holds the head of her daughter Maria Geovana, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil

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