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Zika and Latin America’s War on Women

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As we discussed the other day, we don’t really know what the heck is going with the Zika virus. We do know that it is causing a variety of health problems in different places that are very bad. The most prominent is microcephaly, where babies are born with exceptionally small heads. If this is as real as it seems it might be, this could be a generational-defining virus. Several Latin American nations are advising women not to get pregnant. Oh, OK. Among the other problems here, such as placing the entire burden for this on women, is that abortion is illegal in almost all Latin American countries, often with harsh punishments involved. This includes Brazil and El Salvador, both of whom have made this recommendation to women. In Brazil, it seems that there is a push to use this as a way to weaken the nation’s harsh anti-abortion laws, with at least one judge saying he’d make exceptions in this case. But in El Salvador, no.

And some countries, like El Salvador, forbid abortion in all cases, even when the mother has been raped or her life is at stake. Despite the public health recommendations to avoid pregnancy, deputy health minister Eduardo Espinoza told Buzzfeed News that the government will have to uphold the anti-abortion laws, “whether we like it or not,” but noted the public health crisis may trigger a debate that could revise the law. But experts seem skeptical that the anti-abortion laws, which have been repeatedly passed by mostly-male governments in Catholic countries, will be changed any time soon.

Human rights organizations condemned the government recommendations to avoid getting pregnant, saying that it’s unfair for poor women to have to assume such an enormous public health responsibility in the face of laws that make it impossible for them to do so. “You’re asking women to make a choice that sounds logical from a health perspective, but it’s not a real choice,” says Tarah Demant, senior director of the Identity and Discrimination Unit at Amnesty International. “It’s putting women in an impossible place, by asking them to put the sole responsibility of public health on their shoulders by not getting pregnant, when over half don’t have that choice.”

Of course since these laws are about punishing women for sex, contraception is hard to come by as well. So I guess those sluts will just have to care for their shrunken head babies for the rest of their lives. Serves them right for opening their legs. This, sadly, is an accurate summary of how many in Latin America will feel about the situation.

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