Global Doctors for Choice is closely following the developments related to the Zika health emergency in Latin America and the Caribbean. The spread of the Zika virus is shedding light on the lack of access within this region to comprehensive reproductive health care, including contraception and safe abortion.
Recent calls from authorities, for example in Brazil and Colombia, for women to delay pregnancy until the virus is eradicated are not helpful nor realistic. About half of the pregnancies in the impacted region are unplanned and sexual assault is prevalent, meaning women are often not in control of their reproductive lives including when and how they get pregnant. In many affected countries women lack access to basic contraception to prevent pregnancy, including birth control pills and IUDs, as is it in short supply and obtaining access can be a challenge. Further, many countries in the region have some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws. In some countries abortion is banned under all circumstances, meaning women lack the ability to end unwanted pregnancies.
Poor and marginalized women are particularly affected, as they have less access to financial, health, and informational resources to prevent unwanted pregnancy and to raise a child with microcephaly, which is being linked to Zika.
GDC supports all initiatives to ensure that women in Latin America and the Caribbean have the information, sex education, support, and services, including full access to contraception and abortion, they require to respond to the Zika outbreak. We join advocacy efforts to repeal conservative laws and policies that restrict access to reproductive health services, including safe abortion.
For further information:
Dr. Ana Cristina Gonzalez Velez, lead doctor of GDC/Colombia, recently wrote the following article in the Colombian media: