bureaucracybusters

ABORTING ZIKA

In Bureaucracy, DOCTORS, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on February 24, 2016 at 1:06 pm

A battle of truly cosmic proportions is about to rage.

In one corner is the dreaded Zika virus, which prevents the brain of a fetus from developing properly–and for which there is no vaccine.

And in the other corner are the self-appointed male “guardians of morality” who refuse to provide abortion services–even in cases of rape and incest.

For the moment, Columbia will be the epicenter of this conflict.  But it is certain to expand to other nations, as the virus–carried by mosquitoes–continues to spread across the globe.  

Mosquito 

On February 7, Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos announced that 25,645 people are infected with Zika in Colombia–of which  3,177 are pregnant women.  

And Brazil is investigating the potential link between Zika infections and more than 4,000 suspected cases of microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and a host of birth defects. 

Related image

Zika virus victim (left)

Zika cases have been confirmed in 23 countries and territories in the Americas.

The barest facts about this epidemic are nightmarish–especially for any woman who is pregnant.  

  • An estimated 80 percent of those infected–male and female–show no symptoms, and those that do have a mild illness, with a fever, rash and red eyes.
  • Babies so affected are born with an abnormally small head resulting in developmental problems, such as retardation, blindness and deafness.
  • The virus can be transmitted directly by mosquitoes; by mothers to fetuses; by men to their sexual partners; by saliva during deep kissing; and by blood transfusions.  
  • There is no vaccine to prevent infection with the Zika virus–and no cure for it once you’ve been infected.  

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued the following guidelines for protection against the virus: 

  • The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Use insect repellents that are registered by the Environmental Protection Agency for their effectiveness.
  • If using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.  
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and can’t protect yourself from mosquito bites. 

But while mosquitoes are responsible for the first half of this nightmarish scenario, responsibility for the second half lies with Right-wing attitudes toward abortion.  

In Columbia, abortion became legal only in 2006–and only under the following circumstances:

  • The pregnancy poses a danger to the life or health of the mother.
  • The presence of life-threatening fetal malformations.
  • The pregnancy resulted from rape, incest or non-consensual artificial insemination.

Prior to 2006, abortion in Columbia was illegal without exception. 

Faced with the Zika epidemic, Columbia’s government has announced that pregnant women who carry the virus are eligible for abortion services.

Yet many Columbian women struggle to find abortion providers even when they meet strict legal requirements. The result: Illegal abortions are widespread.  

Meanwhile, in the United States, the CDC stated on February 9:

  • No local mosquito-born Zika virus disease cases have been reported within the United States, but there have been travel-associated cases among those who have visited other countries.
  • The number of Zika cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States will likely increase.  
  • Eighty percent of these cases will not be diagnosed.
  • These “imported cases” could spread the virus in “some areas” of the United States.  

And as the Zika toll inevitably rises within the United States, there will be increasing demands by women to obtain abortion services.

Meanwhile, the Republican party will increasingly strive to once again make abortion a criminal offense–as the following quotes attest: 

  • “Once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.”–Virginia U.S. Senator Steve Martin (2014).
  • “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”–Former Congressman Todd Akin (2012).  

Richard Mourdock

  • “I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God.  And I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.”–Former Republican U.S. Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock (2012)
  • “Texas was in a long period of drought until Governor [Rick] Perry signed the fetal pain bill. It rained that night. Now God has his hold on California.”–California Republican Assemblywoman Shannon Grove.  (2015)  
  • “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.”–Republican Party’s 2012 Platform

There are several reasons why Republicans virulently oppose access to abortion. Without doubt, the most important is that there is an energized constituency for politicians wanting to ban it.

Every major Republican Presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan has tapped into this voting bloc. And each has found plenty of votes to be gotten from it.  

But as the toll from the Zika virus continues to rise, anti-abortionists will face pressure even from within their own ranks.  

Many of their own wives and daughters (and, in some cases, mistresses) carrying Zika-infected fetuses will demand the right to terminate such pregnancies.

And then the battle over abortion rights will enter an entirely new dimension.

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