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Pregnant women flock to rogue doctors for abortions amid ZIKV fears

Published:Thursday | September 8, 2016 | 8:58 AM
In this file photo a baby born with microcephaly in Brazil is checked by a doctor.

Health authorities are reporting that an increasing number of Jamaican women are turning to rogue doctors to conduct abortions amid fear of the Zika virus (ZIKV) and birth defect.

The revelation made at a Gleaner Editors' Forum has reignited discussions as to whether the anti-abortion rules should be relaxed, at least for pregnant women who may have been infected by the Zika virus.

Zika can cause microcephaly - a medical condition where a baby is born with a small head which could lead to developmental problems.

Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, says the ministry has taken note of a higher than usual abortions in the country.

He says the ministry believes the fear of pregnant women getting ZIKV may be playing a role.


Health Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton

National Epidemiologist, Dr Karen Webster-Kerr, indicated that while there are no hard numbers to confirm that more abortions are taking place, the Ministry of Health has reason to believe that this is the case.


National Epidemiologist, Dr Karen Webster-Kerr

The government has been encouraging Jamaican women to delay getting pregnant because of the risks associated with ZIKV.

Member of Parliament for North West St Ann, Dr Dayton Campbell, has called for pregnant women who are positive for the Zika virus to have the option to do an abortion.

Campbell also recently put to Parliament, the suggestion for Government to consider making abortion services available to pregnant women who are confirmed to be carrying a baby with microcephaly.

However, Dr Tufton says the Government is not considering relaxing the law.

As at September 2, there were 501 suspected Zika cases among pregnant women, 35 of which were confirmed after lab tests.