According to a recent study, while abortions are illegal in Latin America and highly restricted, it seems that the requests for abortions in this region are increasing significantly, in the aftermath of an alert about the Zika virus outbreak, last November.
The alert, which was sent on behalf of the Pan American Health Organization, outlined the possibly around severe birth defects in unborn babies when it comes to Zika, including brain abnormalities, microcephaly, and hearing and eye disorders. Governments have also released advisories, suggesting that women in these areas try and prevent pregnancy at this time.
Dr. Catherine Aiken, an author within the study chimes in on this, stating it is unprecedented to advise an entire country to avoid getting pregnant, and not offer any options to the public, including birth control. This revelation sparked the reasoning behind the report, with the researchers wanting to see how females in this region felt about this health crisis.
With no real access to abortion options, it seems that Latin American women having been turning to the internet, and a nonprofit known as Women on the Web, to gain access to abortion medication. It seems these females are interested in misoprostol and mifepristone, two popular abortion meds, that should not be confused with the highly familiar, ‘morning-after pill’.
CNN reveals that the Women of Web’s report gathered data from January 2010 to March 2016, and offers some insights that span over 19 countries within Latin America.
Results of the report indicated that requests for abortion medications through Women of the Web increased by up to 108 percent, in areas where governments release these Zika health advisories. Interestingly enough, the requests did not come from women who had contracted the illness, rather they were looking to abort out of pure fear they may get Zika.
The most significant increase came from Brazil, with Ecuador not too far behind with a 107.7 percent jump. Venezuala was at 93 percent; Honduras at 76 percent; Columbia at 39 percent; Costa Rica at 36 percent, and El Salvador at 36 percent as well. The only country that saw less abortion requests, was Jamaica, with a 33 percent drop.
On the other side of the coin, those countries that did not receive a health advisory saw a minor increase in abortion request, if any at all. The biggest increase came from Bolivia at 68 percent; with Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Panama all increasing between 21 and 25 percent. Then, there was Guatemala at just over eight percent. Both the Dominican Republic and Mexico increased as well, by about 20 percent and seven percent.
There were also various countries close to the region, where Zika hadn’t emerged when the November alert was issued, however, they too saw increases: Bahamas, by approximately 43 percent; Argentina was about 22 percent; with Peru, as well as Trinidad and Tobago at around 21 percent.
While all of these statistics came out of Women on the Web data, the researchers do note that the numbers may be higher: as many females in this region might turn to unsafe methods for abortions, including local pharmacies, the black market, or underground providers.