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Majority of Brazilians Disapprove of Abortion Even in Cases of Microcephaly, Study Shows

02/29/2016 - 08h19



The majority of the Brazilian population believes that women infected with the Zika virus should not have the right to abort-even when Microcephaly has been confirmed in the baby.

According to a Datafolha study, 58 percent say that pregnant women with Zika cannot have the option to disrupt the pregnancy, versus the 32 percent that defend this right-and the 10 percent that do not have an opinion.

The majority rejection of the possibility of a legal abortion is seen even in cases where Microcephaly was already confirmed during gestation. In that scenario, 51 percent position themselves against the right to disrupt the pregnancy, versus the 39 percent that support the right.

The Zika virus in pregnant women has been linked to the rise in cases of brain malformations in newborns and led the WHO (World Health Organization) to declare a global emergency.

In Brazil, the epicenter of the virus, 583 cases of Microcephaly have already been confirmed since October, more than 90 percent of them in the northeast.

Datafolha shows that the rejection of the abortion hypothesis is greater among women than men -61 percent of them disagree with the right to disrupt the pregnancy for pregnant women with Zika (versus 53 percent of men) and 56 percent even when Microcephaly has already been confirmed (versus 46 percent of men).

That right -in the case of babies with a confirmed malformation -only has majority support among Brazilians with higher education or household incomes above five minimum wage salaries.

Among the women who said they'd planned a pregnancy in the last few months (only 9 percent), almost half said they'd reconsidered.

The outbreak of Zika and Microcephaly reignited the discussion about legalizing abortion, foreseen in Brazil only in cases that put the mother's health at risk, cases of rape and anencephaly (the absence of a major portion of the brain) and that is punishable by law -up to three years-according to the Criminal Code.

Despite the prohibition, there are women with Zika that have already turned to abortion, as revealed by the Folha.

One human rights arm of the UN (United Nations) has requested that countries affected by the virus consider the right of women to disrupt the pregnancy.

Abortion, even with Zika, was rejected and considered an "absolute evil" by Pope Francis, who allowed, however, the use of contraceptive methods.

Despite the majority of the population's rejection of the right to disrupt pregnancy in cases of Zika or Microcephaly, the indices are lower than those of the Datafolha study, from November of last year, regarding legislation over abortion in general, without any link to those illnesses.

At that time, 67 percent defended keeping the punishment in practice, versus the 16 percent who were in favor of the expansion of legal abortion to more situations and the 11 percent that supported the practice under any circumstances.

The Datafolha study, with a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points, was conducted between the 24th and 25th of this month, in 171 municipalities in the country, where 2,768 interviews took place.

The survey suggests that Brazilians hold the federal, state and municipal governments (in similar indices) responsible for the Zika cases, but they blame their own population even more.

According to the study, 93 percent acknowledges that residents share some responsibility for the virus -for 75 percent, it is "a lot of responsibility". Meanwhile, the percentage of those that place responsibility on the federal, state or municipal governments varies between 88 and 89 percent -and between 56 and 58 percent say "a lot of responsibility".

In the last few months, public law campaigns have emphasized the need for resident participation in the battle against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which, in addition to Zika, also transmits Dengue and Chikungunya.

The precariousness of basic sanitation, however, with the recurrence of open air sewers and trash in the streets, has been identified by experts as one of the two main factors behind the proliferation of the mosquito.

Datafolha shows that 81 percent of Brazilians say they are afraid of contracting the Zika virus -of which 58 percent claim to be "very afraid".

The majority of the population (57%)revealed that it believes it is well informed about the illness.

Translated by SUGHEY RAMIREZ
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