BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A recent study conducted by the Dutch organization „Women on the web” suggests that there is a rise in abortions in Latin America. The paper also found that the increase comes from countries which have issued alerts on the Zika virus, such as El Salvador, Ecuador, Brazil or Costa Rica. There seems to be a link between the place of residence of these women and the request for abortion pills.
The virus has started to spread throughout Latin America earlier in the year. Some countries have advised women to avoid getting pregnant, while keeping strict legislation in place on abortion.
Abigail Aiken, from Texas University in Austin, believes that these actions seemed to be “disconnected.” The Governments appear to be ambivalent on this matter, concern for women’s health coming in contradiction to suggestions that if a woman does become pregnant, Zika is not grounds for having an abortion.
This debate made Aiken ask herself about what the influence of the virus scare on ordinary women in Latin America is. In a region where millions have an abortion each year, making statistics proved really hard.
However, the Internet Dutch-based organization Women on the web has conducted research using a portal where women can ask for abortion drugs. A few doctors at the non-profits’ headquarters have taken into account the requests for medication and came up with interesting facts, pointing to a rise in abortions across Latin America, with nearly 30,000 requests. In some countries, taking abortion pills means breaking the law.
The conclusions were surprising: Where governments have given warnings for Zika, and access to abortions is strict, many women have requested abortion medication after the virus outbreak began. Countries like Ecuador, Brazil, Honduras, Costa Rica, Honduras or Venezuela have seen increases of up to 70% in abortions.
Interestingly, in countries which gave no alerts on the virus, the number of abortions remained stable.
Researchers have made a portrait of the typical women who use their portal. They’re the ones who live in urban areas, and earn more than average, with access to the Internet.
The study represents only a glimpse into the world of women across Latin America, and the rise in abortions in this region may have broader explanations.