July 23, 2016
AP In this January 30, 2016 photo, Jose Wesley, who was born with microcephaly and screams uncontrollably for long stretches, is attended to in Bonito, Pernambuco state, Brazil.
Dr Dayton Campbell

The option to abort pregnancies has come to the forefront in light of recent data, which shows that 231 expectant mothers are among the 2,524 suspected Zika virus cases currently in Jamaica.

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

Information gathered by THE STAR is that medical doctors, whether for and against abortion under these circumstances, are expecting more women to seek the option to abort pregnancies.

At least one parliamentarian, who is also a medical doctor, is seeking to have the abortion laws relaxed to facilitate the process.

Dr Dayton Campbell, MP for North West St Ann, told our new team that as long as pregnant women are positive for the Zika virus, they should have the option to do an abortion.

Campbell recently put this view forward in Parliament that the Government should consider making abortion services available to pregnant women who are confirmed to be carrying a baby with microcephaly.

Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, which is an abnormal smallness of the head that is associated with an underdeveloped brain.

Speaking with THE STAR Campbell said, "People have to realise that although abortion is illegal, Parliament is where we amend the laws to make it legal. We have to be proactive. We can't just sit down and wait cause we going to have a rude awakening."

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He added that in some cases women might give birth to children with normal heads, but those children might suffer from other neurological disorders.

A medical doctor, who spoke with THE STAR on condition of anonymity, revealed that he is not surprised that pregnant women may seek abortion during this time.

"We expect more and more women will come in especially during the threat of ZikV and we are willing to do it (abortion). A microcephaly baby can't stop cry. No one wants to live with a retarded baby for the rest of their life," he said.

He also told THE STAR that a recent ultrasound revealed that a pregnant woman's unborn child was showing signs of microcephaly, but it was too late to consider abortion, as she was already four and a half months pregnant.

"Only before 12 weeks, once it pass 12 weeks we wont do it. A mother has 12 weeks to make up her mind," the doctor said.

Another medical practitioner, Dr Orville Morgan, told THE STAR that it is quite likely that pregnant women will rush to do abortions in light of the Zika virus.

While pointing out that abortions are still illegal in Jamaica, he said, "It's a panic reaction to a poorly functioning child and so I think they would. They would have to be counselled properly."

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