“I followed my heart and my doctor’s advice for my survival,” said Marina Leite after having an abortion in Brazil, a country where abortion, in most circumstances, is regarded as a criminal act.
Leite’s abortion, however, was legal and safe because her pregnancy was life-threatening. She was 28 weeks pregnant and was carrying an abnormal amount of amniotic fluid — a result from severe fetal deformities linked to the Zika virus.
Marina’s story is portrayed in a New York Times video, “Abortion in the Time of Zika,” that explores the challenges facing pregnant women in a country where access to abortion is severely restricted.
As the virus continues to spread, it is shedding light on the complex realities in Latin America, where governments are failing to take public health measures that recognize women’s health and human rights, including the right to safe abortion.
“Governments should continue to take preventive measures to eradicate Zika, but should also provide women with information and access to a full range of services—including contraception, emergency contraception, early tests, information of pregnancy risks, and safe abortion,” says Bia Galli, Ipas Senior Policy Advisor. “
“Women need to receive counselling and accurate information about the risks of a pregnancy associated with Zika, she says, adding, “No woman should be forced to continue a pregnancy against her will.”
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