It seems the threat of the Zika virus has prompted the United Nations to ask the countries in question to reconsider and modify laws related to abortion and birth control. The call of the U.N. on the Zika matter comes as a preventive measure to the birth of babies with microcephaly, which is linked to the infection with the Zika virus.
Microcephaly is a condition that causes newborn children to have very small heads and thus minuscule brains. The condition impedes them from walking, talking and basically thinking as a normal person. Thus, the request of the U.N. comes as a normal reaction to stopping the widespread of microcephaly.
Cecile Pouilly, the spokeswoman of the United Nations, has stated that the governments of the affected countries (Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador and Jamaica) are asking women to avoid getting pregnant, but at the same time they are not offering them any solutions to stop pregnancies.
The Human Rights High Commissioner of the U.N., Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has also added that the grim reality is that numerous women and girls from these countries simply lack the knowledge and control over becoming pregnant, especially since they live in environments where sexual violence is a common occurrence.
Al Hussein continued by saying that the governments must provide all teenagers with information and education on the matter, but also with the means of preventing pregnancies and diseases such as safe abortion services and emergency contraception.
Furthermore, such health services must be provided with the women’s full consent, as well as the guarantee of her privacy and the respect of her dignity. All laws and regulations that restrict access to such services must be changed by taking into consideration human rights obligations. All people have the right to health.
However, Latin America has a very strong Catholic influence which also plays an important part on the views on contraception. Even if the strict laws against abortion will be reviewed, there still remains the matter of religion that strongly states that all life is precious and thus abortion can even be considered murder. Thus it comes as no surprise that the lowest contraception users worldwide are Latin American women.
Amnesty International Identity and Discrimination Unit senior director Tarah Demant has declared that people living in countries affected by the Zika virus have no access to information, contraception or means to terminate pregnancies.
The call of the U.N. on the Zika matter will definitely challenge the political and religious beliefs of those countries. Whether their foundations can be changed remains to be seen.
Image Source: CDC