Zika has hit the US. According to the CDC, there are now 279 pregnant women on US soil with Zika (3). That number is likely to skyrocket this summer. Mosquitoes will bite infected women and spread the disease to others. Others will visit infected areas, especially with the Brazil Olympics this summer, and return with the disease. Sexual activity may spread the disease. Zika may also be spread through sexual contact with an infected adult. Since the adult version of the illness is quite mild, this is easy to miss.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma legislature creates a bill that removes any discretion in bringing infected babies to term.
Regardless of the intent in becoming pregnant, no one intends to bring a baby to term who will live for only 4-5 years and cost a fortune in terms of heartache and cash. That’s not why someone becomes pregnant.
Women understand this. The Zika outbreak is increasing demand for abortions in the countries that have been affected seriously thus far. (6)
However, because there is no lethal risk to the mother, under the Oklahoma law, a woman has no choice in bringing the baby to term. The state will incur a mountain of costs in caring for these children, as most families cannot bear the load.
Even the Pope has expressed openness to the use of artificial contraception to deal with Zika. (2)
Arguably, having a functioning brain should be a requirement for public office.
American writers have been quick to criticize Brazilian politicians for a slow response to the Zika outbreak. However, as with the Michigan water crisis, this is evidence that American politicians can be just as oblivious. The US Congress has been no better than Brazil’s in taking preventive action. (1) The US is quite unprepared for the expected medical costs Zika will create. (5)
What actions can you take?
(a) Adjust vacation plans. The mosquito that carries Zika is prevalent in the US south, especially in the Gulf Coast region.
(b) Wear mosquito repellent.
(c) If you or someone about which you care is pregnant, make sure they have access to good prenatal care and use it. This is not a surprise you want.
(d) More controversially, lobby your local government for mosquito control measures. That can affect other wildlife, but that may be a necessary sacrifice until this is past. Hopefully, Zika won’t become a permanent part of our ecosystem.
(1) Branswell, Helen. “Congress is blocking key efforts to fight Zika, top health officials say,” STAT News, 10 March 2016. https://www.statnews.com/2016/03/10/zika-emergency-funding-anxiety/
(2) Burke, Dan and Cohen, Elizabeth. “Pope suggests contraceptives could be used to slow spread of Zika,” CNN.com, 16 February 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/18/health/zika-pope-francis-contraceptives/index.html
(3) Cohen, Elizabeth. “Number of pregnant women with Zika virus in U.S. triples, CDC says.” CNN. 10:21 AM ET, Fri May 20, 2016. http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/20/health/zika-cdc-numbers/index.html
(4) “Oklahoma lawmakers OK bill criminalizing performing abortion.” Associated Press. 19 May 2016. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/oklahoma-lawmakers-ok-bill-criminalizing-performing-abortion/ar-BBtfoqO?ocid=ansmsnnews11
(5) “Public Health Experts Warn U.S. Unprepared for Zika Outbreak,” Insurance Journal, 13 April 2016. http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2016/04/13/404972.htm
(6) Simmons, Ann. “Zika fears increase demand for abortions in countries where it’s illegal to have one,” Los Angeles Times, 9 March 2016.