Unprecedented demand for abortions in Zika-hit Latin America

Women in Catholic Latin American nations hit by the spread of the Zika virus are increasingly going online to obtain abortion pills.

The Women on Web site has a long history of helping those in countries where abortion is illegal obtain pills to terminate early pregnancies.

An online consultation with a doctor is involved.

A woman is told where she can get the pills locally that will bring about an abortion or, if necessary, the pills will be sent to her.

Revelations about the scale of the demand were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the Guardian reported.

The researchers analysed data for 19 Latin American countries.

They compared the numbers of requests there with three countries – Chile, Poland and Uruguay – where there have been no health warnings about the dangers of Zika virus in pregnancy.

“There is a huge surge,” said Dr Catherine Aiken from the University of Cambridge.

“It’s over 100 per cent increase in demand in some of the countries we looked at – almost 110 per cent increase in Brazil.”

In those countries with no Zika outbreak, there was no such rise in demand.

In a supplement to the study, the researchers have published some of the emails to Women on Web which reveal their fears.

“I need to do an abortion because of the great risk of infection with Zika here . . . Please help me. My economic situation is extremely difficult,” said one woman in Brazil.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organisation advised people in countries where the Zika virus is spreading to consider delaying pregnancy.

In February, Pope Francis strongly rejected abortion as a response to fears about the Zika virus outbreak.

The Pope said abortion is not the lesser of two evils, but is a crime and an “absolute evil”.


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