A poll conducted by STAT-Harvard shows most Americans — even those opposed to late-term abortions — are in favor of terminating a pregnancy after 24 weeks if the fetus is likely to suffer damage from the mother’s Zika infection.
The telephone poll of 1,016 adults — taken the same week Florida announced two people had possibly contracted Zika locally — found that 59 percent of respondents believe that women should have access to late-term abortions if testing shows the fetus has microcephaly, a birth defect that can affect the fetus of mothers who have contracted Zika, reports WRIC in Richmond, Virginia.
Microcephaly is a rare congenital condition that results in babies being born with smaller-than-normal heads and underdeveloped brains. People with microcephaly lead dependent lives and may need help with everyday activities for the rest of their lives.
The condition isn’t detectable until after the 24th week of pregnancy and in many states, such as Virginia, abortions are banned after 20 weeks. By the time the negative effects of Zika is detected in the fetus, termination access is restricted.
“Sometimes it’s a little closer to late pregnancy that you can see the sequelae on ultrasound. We’re terrible at predicting prenatally the severity of the neurodevelopmental outcome postnatally,” said Ronald Ramus, MD.
Since Florida has announced it had discovered two people who may have contracted Zika through locally infected mosquitos, the number of cases in the outbreak has grown to 16, and pressure is mounting to make an exception for Zika related pregnancies and allow terminations after 24-weeks. Currently, 22 states have set the late-term pregnancy cut-off at 24 weeks.
Senator Marco Rubio has been on the forefront of the Zika fight and said in an interview with Politico that despite the concern, even women with Zika should be barred from getting abortions, even when the likelihood of Microcephaly is high, reports Feminist News.
“I understand a lot of people disagree with my view, but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws. And when you present it in the context of Zika or any prenatal condition, it’s a difficult question and a hard one. If I’m going to err, I’m going to err on the side of life.”
The Republican senator and Florida native acknowledged that Microcephaly is a terrible condition and that those affected would be faced with a lifetime of difficulties.
“I’m pro-life. And I’m strongly pro-life. I believe all human life should be protected by our law, irrespective of the circumstances or condition of that life.”
The STAT-Harvard poll was taken for the purposes of highlighting the issues related to the 2016 elections and the Zika outbreak.
- Public views of who is to blame for congressional inaction to fund Zika virus response
- Public support for an exception to late-term abortion restrictions when pregnancies are affected by Zika virus.
- Public perceptions of which presidential candidate will do a better job handling the Zika virus outbreak.
The STAT-Harvard poll revealed that while most Americans are unaware that Congress left for the summer recess without approving any new funding to respond to what President Obama calls a “critical” situation, those that did know blame the impasse on Republicans more than Democrats.
At a press conference at the Pentagon last month, President Obama stressed said that money redirected from an ebola emergency fund earlier this year to fight Zika is nearly depleted, according to CNBC.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 4, 2016
Rubio blames Democrats for the impasse and said had they accepted the scaled-down version of President Obama’s Zika legislation that House Republicans approved, the funding would be there.
The poll found that 34 percent of Democrats support late-term abortions without factoring in Zika and support rose to 72 percent when the likelihood of a Zika related birth defect was introduced. Among Republicans, support rose from 12 percent to 48 percent in favor of termination after 24 weeks.
Dr. Warren Hern said “it’s not reasonable or logical” to allow an exception when a fetus has been damaged by Zika, but not for other serious birth defects, reports STAT News.
Hern, who performs abortions — including late-term abortions — in Boulder, Colorado, said that women seek late-term abortions for a variety of reasons, many because of catastrophic fetal abnormalities that are not discovered until late in pregnancy.
Most respondents felt that the decision to terminate a pregnancy should be left to the mother. Raising a child affected with microcephaly includes a heightened financial responsibility, in addition to the time and emotional toll of handling health issues such as visual and hearing defects and atrophy; a condition that freezes up joints in contorted positions.
Share your views on whether women infected with the Zika virus should be allowed access to late-term abortions in the comment section.
[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]