Why Is the Zika Outbreak Being Used to Legalize Abortion in Brazil?
In recent months, because of the Zika virus, which has had a strange connection with microcephaly in unborn babies of pregnant women in several Brazilian regions, many leftist groups, including the World Health Organization, are calling for the legalization of abortion in Brazil, the world’s most populous Catholic country.
But push for abortion legalization is creating a backlash, particularly among the families of disabled children. Many have taken to social media apps like Facebook and WhatsApp, where more than half of Brazil’s 200 million people are connected, to make their pro-life case. They argue that all babies, including those with microcephaly, have a right to be born.
The Catholic Church and Pentecostal neo-Pentecostal churches, which have a strong influence in this deeply religious country, have also been fighting back efforts to legalize abortion.
“Abortion is not the answer to the Zika virus, we need to value life in whatever situation or condition it may be,” Sergio da Rocha, the president of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (NCBB), said last week. Nevertheless its usually leftist line, NCBB is not aligned with the Left, even with the ruling socialist Workers’ Party (which it, through its bishops, helped to found), in the abortion issue.
Abortion is illegal except in cases of rape, danger to the mother’s life or anencephaly, another birth defect involving the brain. But in practice, any unscrupulous ob-gyn office “discreetly” offers abortion to women willing to pay. Wealthy women pay more and poor women pay lesser.
Before the microcephaly issue, leftist groups that support abortion were on the defensive following a bill by the powerful mostly Pentecostal evangelical congressional caucus that would restrict abortion access by adding additional hurdles for women looking for abortion under the false flag of rape. The bill has been approved by a House of Representatives committee.
The first case of Zika was discovered in Brazil in the middle of last year. It’s spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a common household pest that also transmits dengue and chikungunya. Zika is generally much milder, with only one out of five patients developing symptoms such as red eyes, a splotchy rash and fever.
A link between microcephaly and Zika in Brazil has been a mystery, because in Colombia the latest study, made available on February 13, 2016, reveals over 5,000 pregnant Colombian women are infected with the mosquito-borne Zika virus, but there is no record of Zika-linked microcephaly in these cases.
What has been different in the Brazilian case? Some conjecture certain vaccines in pregnant women. Others, genetically modified mosquitoes. And others, chemical products to fight the Dengue virus. In each of these conjectured cases, multimillion interests of powerful companies are at stake. And all of them will be more than happy to blame the mosquito (and prepare a vaccine costing millions from Brazilian taxpayers) or promote abortion, making of the unborn babies — the main victims of the strange epidemic in Brazil — scapegoats of a crisis of questionable origin.
With information from the Associated Press and Reuters.
Portuguese version of this article: Por que a epidemia de Zika está sendo usada para legalizar o aborto no Brasil?
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