Columbian health officials report a young woman recently aborted her late-term unborn baby after doctors suspected her baby may have a brain disorder caused by the Zika virus.
The mosquito-borne Zika virus, which is causing a health crisis in South America, is believed to be linked to microcephaly, a neurological disorder where a baby’s head is significantly smaller and the brain is abnormally developed, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition is not typically fatal, but it can cause health problems throughout the baby’s life.
As the virus spreads, several South American countries have reported an alarming spike in the number of babies born with microcephaly in the past few months. The link between the virus and microcephaly has not been confirmed, but health officials continue to search for evidence. Zika is difficult to diagnose because people who are infected do not necessarily show symptoms of the virus; and when they do, their symptoms can look like other illnesses, according to health authorities. Similarly, conditions like microcephaly often are not diagnosed until women are 20 weeks pregnant or later.
Meanwhile, abortion activists have been exploiting the crisis, causing fears among pregnant women and calling for legalized abortion. Abortion is illegal in most of South America.
On Wednesday, Columbian health officials told Reuters the 18-year-old woman’s case was a “probable” case of microcephaly, possibly linked to Zika. The young mother aborted her unborn baby when she was 28 weeks pregnant after a doctor said her unborn child probably had microcephaly and found traces of the Zika virus in the amniotic fluid, according to the report. In Columbia, abortion is legal in cases when the unborn baby has a life-threatening condition and when the woman has been raped or her life is in danger.
Columbia’s National Health Institute (INS) said its officials were unable to confirm whether the unborn baby actually had the condition, because the baby’s body was thrown away immediately after the abortion.
“Unfortunately in this case, the breach of guidelines by those responsible for handling the case in Cauca prevented an accurate diagnosis being reached,” Martha Lucia Ospina, director of the INS said in a statement. “They discarded the fetal remains that were indispensable to diagnose or rule out Zika and the link with microcephaly and other abnormalities.”
In an eugenic-like push, abortion activists are arguing that pregnant women in South America should be allowed to abort their unborn babies, even if they aren’t sure if the baby has microcephaly.
The pro-abortion group Women on Web is adverting free, mail-order abortion drugs to women in South America. The chemical abortion drug that the group is offering is for first-trimester abortions only – meaning that women taking the drug would have no way of knowing at that stage if their unborn baby had the disorder. Microcephaly often is not diagnosed until women are 20 weeks pregnant or later.
Yet, founder Rebecca Gomperts said her group has received triple the number of requests for abortion drugs from women in Brazil in the past three months.
There also is growing uncertainty about whether the virus and the microcephaly cases are connected. Thomas D. Williams recently wrote, “Though the Brazil Ministry of Health has registered an unusually high number of babies born with microcephaly, 96% of these cases occurred without the mothers having been infected with the Zika virus at all, which means that the cause must be sought elsewhere.”
Families who have experiences with microcephaly are countering abortion activists’ fear mongering, saying that women should be offered education about the condition and support – not abortion.
Kansas mother Gwen Hartley, who has two daughters with microcephaly, said she initially struggled when she learned about her daughters’ diagnosis, but today she believes they are a huge blessing to her family.
She encouraged mothers in South America not to throw away their unborn babies’ lives because they are afraid.
“In the beginning, I was crushed,” Hartley said. “I’m sure these moms in Brazil are feeling that way. But if you open your mind enough, you realize your whole life is in preparation for this moment, and this moment will make you better.”
Currently, there is no vaccine or treatment for Zika. The World Health Organization and others are involved in working to curb the spread of the virus.