Poll Finds Majority of People in Brazil Reject Abortions on Disabled Babies Who Have Microcephaly

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Mar 4, 2016   |   6:30PM   |   Brazilia, Brazil

Brazilians are not giving into abortion activists’ attempts to push legalized abortion for disabled babies, according to a new poll.

The push comes amid the country’s work to curb the spread of the Zika virus, a mosquito-borne illness that may be linked to a rise in birth defects in newborns. As the virus spreads, Brazil and several other South American countries have reported an alarming spike in the number of babies born with 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. The link between the virus and microcephaly has not been confirmed, but health officials have been searching for evidence.

A new poll by the Datafolha Institute in Brazil shows 58 percent of Brazilians reject abortion in cases where pregnant women are infected with the Zika virus, according to the Catholic News Agency. According to the poll, 32 percent think the woman should be allowed to have an abortion and 10 percent had no opinion.

Brazilians also rejected abortion in cases where the unborn baby is diagnosed with microcephaly, with 51 percent opposed and 39 percent in favor, according to the report.

However, abortion activists have been exploiting the crisis, causing fears among pregnant women and calling for legalized abortion in South America, where abortion is widely prohibited. Already in Columbia and the United States, several unborn babies have been aborted because their mothers were infected with Zika and suspected their unborn babies may have disabilities.

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In an eugenic-like push, abortion activists are arguing that pregnant women who have the virus 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.

Catholic Church leaders in Brazil have spoken strongly against the legalization of abortion in cases when the baby is disabled, LifeNews reported. In February, the Rev. Luciano Brito, spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife in Brazil, said the church will not compromise its teachings on abortion.

“Nothing justifies an abortion,” Brito said. “Just because a fetus has microcephaly won’t make us favorable [to abortion].”

A young Brazilian journalist who was born with microcephaly also has argued that South American countries should not give into abortion activists’ pressure.

“I believe that abortion is a short-sighted attempt to tackle the problem,” said Ana Carolina Caceres, a 24-year-old journalist and blogger from Brazil. “The most important thing is access to treatment: counselling for parents and older sufferers, and physiotherapy and neurological treatment for those born with microcephaly.”

She criticized Brazil Health Minister Marcelo Castro for perpetuating stereotypes about the disorder and saying that Brazil would have a “damaged generation” because of it.

“If I could speak to him, I would say, ‘What is damaged is your statement, sir,’” Caceres said. “Microcephaly is a box of surprises. You may suffer from serious problems or you may not. So I believe that those who have abortions are not giving their children a chance to succeed.

“I survived, as do many others with microcephaly. Our mothers did not abort. That is why we exist.”

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.