Women at threat of Zika virus told not to get pregnant, but also denied family planning

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As the World Health Organisation warns that the Zika virus could spread across the whole of the Americas, women in some parts of the continent are being warned not to get pregnant.

Public health officials in El Salvador have warned people not to have children until 2018 in a bid to reduce the effects of the disease which causes birth defects.

Map: The i newspaper/WHO

Similar calls have been made by the governments of Colombia, Ecuador and Jamaica and to anyone planning on travelling to the to the Olympics in Rio later this year.

We'd like to suggest to all the women of fertile age that they take steps to plan their pregnancies, and avoid getting pregnant between this year and next.

  • El Salvador's deputy health minister, Eduardo Espinoza

However, family planning and abortion laws in predominantly Catholic Latin America are making that very difficult.

In El Salvador, where more than 5,000 cases have been diagnosed in the last year, abortion is completely outlawed and sex education of young girls and boys is much further behind other parts of the world.

As Rosa Hernandez, the El Salvador director of Catholics for Choice, explained to Broadly:

How are we going to prevent pregnancies of these girls... [if] there are no emergency contraceptive pills available at health units after someone is raped?

Abortion would be the solution but [it] is fully penalised... Asking only women not to become pregnant is irresponsible when all these factors exist...

It is absurd; women have the right to decide what to do.


More: What is the Zika Virus - the disease linked to babies being born with smaller heads?

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