Concerns about birth defects caused by the Zika virus have led governments across South America, Central America and the Caribbean to ask women to postpone pregnancy by as much as two years. In many of these countries, however, contraception — the most obvious method of avoiding pregnancy — is either illegal or prohibitively expensive.
According to Giselle Carino, Western Hemisphere regional director for the International Planned Parenthood Foundation, more than 23 million women in Latin America and the Caribbean “want — but lack access to — modern contraceptive methods.” In Brazil, abortion pills coming into the country have been confiscated and destroyed. In Haiti and Costa Rica, emergency contraception medications are not allowed to go to market. In Honduras, emergency contraception has been banned outright. And while condoms are legal in Venezuela, last year a 36-pack cost $755, according to Bloomberg.
Carino hopes the crisis may “open a dialogue around the issue of abortion and women’s rights in general,” but for now many women are on their own. With a vaccine to Zika potentially years away, it’s estimated that in Brazil alone more than 2,500 babies will be born with birth defects before the virus runs its course.
Read the full story at Quartz.