The majority of Brazilians are opposed to abortion in cases where the baby exhibits microcephaly, a new survey finds.
The poll comes amid continued concerns over the possible role of Zika virus in causing microcephaly.
Released by Brazil’s Datafolha Institute, the survey indicates that 58 percent of Brazilians reject the practice of abortion in cases of pregnant women infected with the Zika virus. Just 32 percent think the woman should have an abortion and 10 percent had no opinion.
Even in cases where it is confirmed that the baby will be born with microcephaly, 51 percent of respondents were against ending the baby’s life. About 39 percent approved of an abortion.
The first case of the Zika virus in the Americas was recorded in Brazil in May 2015. Since then, the virus has spread through half of South America, much of Central America and Mexico. Some cases have been reported in the southern United States.
The Zika virus is most often transmitted by a certain species of mosquito. Usually infection does not cause serious illness. However, some reports from Brazil suggest a connection between virus infections and microcephaly in babies developing in the womb. The infection appears to be passed from a pregnant mother to her unborn child.
The Centers for Disease Control in its Feb. 26 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, has said “laboratory evidence from a limited number of cases with microcephaly” has supported a link between virus infection and microcephaly.
Microcephaly is a medical condition in which babies have small heads. Accompanying conditions can range from mild to severe. Severe problems may include seizures, vision or hearing problems, and developmental disabilities, the Centers for Disease Control said.
Abortion advocates have used the virus’ possible connection with microcephaly to push for expanded legal abortion in South and Central America.
On Feb. 5, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights, headed by Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein of Jordan, released a statement urging countries suffering from the epidemic to provide women “quality sexual and reproductive health services and information.” This included “safe abortion services.”
Pope Francis, on his return flight from Mexico to the Vatican, rejected this push. He said that abortion is “a crime” since it means “throwing one out to save another.”
“That's what the mafia does. It's a crime, an absolute evil,” the Pope said Feb. 18.
Several Latin American countries with laws restricting abortion rejected demand for abortion, including Brazil.
The Brazilian Secretary of Health, Marcelo Castro, said that the position of his office is “upholding the law.”
“Brazilian legislation only allows abortion in three cases, and they don’t include (microcephaly),” he said.
Fernando Llorca Castro, Costa Rica’s Secretary of Health, took a similar position. In a statement to the Costa Rican daily La Nación, he explained that the country is considering legal abortion “when the mother is at risk, which is not the case for babies with microcephaly.”
He added that “there’s not even any convincing evidence that Zika is causing microcephaly.”
Last month, a Brazilian journalist with microcephaly slammed the push for abortion, explaining that some people with the condition — including herself — are able to live normal lives.