Majority in Brazil reject abortion as answer to Zika virus

The majority of people in Brazil oppose abortion on grounds of microcephaly, a condition which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads, a new survey has revealed.

An increase in cases of microcephaly has been linked to the spread of the Zika virus, which causes flu-like symptoms and usually clears up in a week. The possible, but disputed link with microcephaly, has led to demands that Brazil liberalise its restrictive abortion laws.

However, a poll commissioned by Brazil’s Datafolha Institute has found that 58% of Brazilians oppose abortion in cases of women infected with Zika, against 32% in favour of terminations. A further 10% had no opinion.

In cases where microcephaly is confirmed in a foetus, a majority still opposed abortion, at 51% of respondents. The percentage stating they would back an abortion in such a circumstance was 39%.

The continuing opposition to abortion in Brazil comes despite a call by the United Nations for countries affected by the Zika virus to offer terminations and a major push by advocates of abortion to sway the opinions of pro-life ministers in Brazil’s parliament.

Such actions have, however, been met by moves by politicians to bolster Brazil’s existing anti-abortion legislation, specifically on the question of seeking an abortion due to a microcephaly diagnosis.

Pope Francis also weighed in on the ongoing attack on Brazil’s the pro-life stance, insisting, as he concluded his recent visit to Mexico that abortion is “a crime” which sees the “throwing out of one life to save another…it’s a crime, an absolute evil”.

Meanwhile, Chile has taken a step closer to introducing abortion after a vote to refer draft legislation to the Senate was passed by eight to five by a constitutional committee.  The nation’s President Michelle Bachelet made abortion provision one of her electoral priorities and, it is reported, is aiming to have new legislation approved by her state of the union address on May 21.
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