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MP wants abortion law relaxed for pregnant women with Zika

Published:Tuesday | July 19, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Jovan Johnson, Parliamentary Reporter

Opposition Member of Parliament Dr Dayton Campbell says the Government should consider  making  abortion services available to pregnant women who are confirmed to be carrying a baby with microcephaly.

Microcephaly is a condition in which a child is born with an abnormal head and is likely to suffer brain damage.

Scientists have linked microcephaly to the mosquito-borne Zika virus which is now present in Jamaica.

Campbell says women should be given the option to abort babies likely to be born with microcephaly, although Jamaican laws criminalise abortion  except  in certain circumstances.


North West St. Ann MP, Dayton Campbell

IN PHOTO: A baby with microcephaly 

Campbell supported his abortion recommendation by pointing to Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton's statement earlier to the parliament that research from other countries show  that  10 per cent of pregnant  women who contract Zika may have  a child with microcephaly.

Campbell, who is a medical doctor, also dismissed Tufton's point that microcephaly is detected late in pregnancies or after birth.

He said an ultra sound is able to determine if babies have abnormal heads which is a symptom of microcephaly.

In response, the health minister said the government would continue to focus on providing the appropriate support needed by pregnant women.

"Where do you draw the line?" Prime Minister Andrew Holness, asked Campbell as he made his point.

Campbell has in the past argued in the House that the  abortion laws should  be repealed  as part of an anti-poverty campaign.

Latest data show that of the 2,524 suspected ZIKV cases, 231 are among pregnant women.

And, of the 44 confirmed cases locally, seven are pregnant women.