BY OLIKA DANIEL GODSON, DIE WELT
The WHO has described and categorized the Zika virus as an epidemic in Latin America which has caused severe birth defects. Furthermore, this virus can be sexually transmitted. The Zika virus has far-reaching effects, and these are not limited to medical effects. The virus appears to also affect cultural, religious, and legal norms especially in South America. Religion plays a great part in South American countries, and the presence of this virus questions what the cultural and legal responses will be on the issue of abortion, which is illegal in most of these countries. Abortion in South America, however, may sometimes be allowed if the fetus threatens the life of the mother. In a Press Conference with the World Conference on Women this afternoon, South American states debated over what the legal and cultural responses should be.
The delegate from Nicaragua stated that abortion, according to the values of the country, is criminalized. However, its legislature might consider making it legal as the virus possesses great danger in this region. This apparently shows a perfect example of a situation where the Zika virus starts a legal revolution that could eventually lead to the revolution of abortion laws. Much will not be changing in Chile, however, as it already legalizes abortion in cases where the life of the mother is at stake. Mexico pointed out that abortion is already legal in the country.
The situation in Argentina is similar to that of Chile as it also already recognizes and allows abortion when the mother’s life is at stake. The delegate endorsed her support of vaccination. The doctors would, however, would have to look more into the issue when a threat exists and only allow abortion in a deadly case.
The responses by other South American countries with strict anti-abortion laws remain to be heard as the topic affects core moral and religious values of the region.