You’ve most likely heard about it.
It’s the Zika virus.
Now, according to recent reports, it has come to Illinois.
Over this past year, the virus has caused both concern and controversy throughout the country and parts of the world. In addition to the alarm over the spread of the disease, what has come to merit great concern by the public is a purported link between maternal Zika infection and the occurrence of birth defects and microcephaly in children.
But what role does abortion have in all of this?
According to the CDC, microcephaly can sometimes be diagnosed in a child during the mother’s pregnancy, by way of an ultrasound test performed in the late second/early third trimester (around 24 weeks gestation).
Just this month, Harvard University conducted a new poll titled, “Zika Virus and the Election Season.” One of the objectives was to gage “public support for an exception to late-term abortion restrictions when pregnancies are affected by Zika virus.” Done on a random sampling of Americans, the poll had some disturbing results. It found:
“A majority of Americans (59%) believe a woman should have access to a legal abortion after 24 weeks if she has been infected with Zika virus and has been told by a health professional that there is a serious possibility the baby would be born with microcephaly.”
Let’s put this in perspective:
At 24 weeks gestation, a baby’s arms, legs, fingers, and toes are already developed. He has hair and finger nails. His brain functioning is near the level of a newborn. And yet, a majority of Americans would still support the dismembering and murder of a child, who can also move, hear the sound of his mother’s voice, and feel pain?
It’s pretty clear. Zika has now just become a life issue. But what we must do is ask ourselves the question: is abortion really going to solve the problem?
First, let’s take a closer look at what the disease is actually all about.
What exactly is Zika?
According to Medical News Today, Zika is a disease spread by mosquitos – in particular, the Aedes aegypti species of mosquito. Symptoms of the virus, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), display in about one in every four infected people, but they can include fever, rash, joint pain, conjunctivitis, muscle pain, headache, eye pain, and vomiting.
How serious is it?
The World Health Organization declared Zika a public health emergency of international concern in February 2016. Surprisingly, cases of Zika resulting in hospitalization are not all that common, and death is even rarer. Furthermore, according to Gregory A. Poland, MD, Director of the Mayo Clinic Vaccine Research Group, eighty percent of people experience no noticeable symptoms, and the other twenty percent usually have rather mild symptoms.
Nevertheless, what has come to merit great concern by the public is a purported link between maternal Zika infection and the occurrence of birth defects and infant microcephaly. In Brazil, a recent spike in babies being born with this condition has been observed, since October 2015. In February, the New York Times wrote,
“According to data released this week by the Ministry of Health, there have been 4,783 reported cases since October last year.
Before that, the nation had about 150 annually.
But how many of the babies actually have microcephaly — and whether the condition was caused by the Zika virus — is still far from clear.
Of the cases examined so far, 404 have been confirmed as having microcephaly.
Only 17 of them tested positive for the Zika virus. But the government and many researchers say that number may be largely irrelevant, because their tests would find the presence of the virus in only a tiny percentage of cases.
An additional 709 babies have been ruled out as having microcephaly, according to the government, underscoring the risks of false positives making the epidemic appear larger than it actually is.
The remaining 1,113 cases are still being investigated.”
Still, on April 13, 2016, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) concluded that Zika had in fact a causal relationship with the occurrence of microcephaly and other birth defects in newborns. Commenting on their report, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the CDC states:
“The report notes that no single piece of evidence provides conclusive proof that Zika virus infection is a cause of microcephaly and other fetal brain defects. Rather, increasing evidence from a number of recently published studies and a careful evaluation using established scientific criteria supports the authors’ conclusions.
The finding that Zika virus infection can cause microcephaly and other severe fetal brain defects means that a woman who is infected with Zika during pregnancy has an increased risk of having a baby with these health problems. It does not mean, however, that all women who have Zika virus infection during pregnancy will have babies with problems. As has been seen during the current Zika outbreak, some infected women have delivered babies that appear to be healthy.
Establishing this causal relationship between Zika and fetal brain defects is an important step in driving additional prevention efforts, focusing research activities, and reinforcing the need for direct communication about the risks of Zika. While one important question about causality has been answered, many questions remain. Answering these will be the focus of ongoing research to help improve prevention efforts, which ultimately may help reduce the effects of Zika virus infection during pregnancy.”
Although it has been stated that Zika can cause microcephaly, it appears that it won’t always. There is still much to be learned about the infection and its correlation with such birth defects.
Where is the virus now?
A majority of Zika cases have been found in countries with tropical climates such as Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, Suriname, Venezuela, French Guiana, parts of Africa and Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), there have also been 1,825 cases of Zika reported in the United States. The vast majority of these cases were brought to the U.S. by travelers. However, the Florida Department of Health has recently found an area in Miami where the virus is in fact being spread by mosquitos.
In their recent article, “What to know about the Zika risk in Chicago,” the Chicago Tribune relates that there are 23 confirmed Zika cases in Illinois, as reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Some of these cases are in the Chicago area.
According to Chicago Health Department, the area is at low risk for Zika virus transmission, since the Zika-carrying mosquito is not typically found here. However, experts still advise that precautions should be taken. The Chicago Tribune reports that it has now been found that Zika can be transmitted through blood transfusion, laboratory exposure, and sexual contact. With two international airports, the possibility of the mosquito surviving in the area, and the still largely unknown nature of the virus, the matter should not be taken lightly.
What does the CDC advise?
To avoid contracting the disease, the CDC advises, first and foremost, to avoid mosquito bites. In doing so, they suggest people should plan for travel. The CDC makes clear the possibility for sexual transmission of the Zika as well.
However, in addition to preventing the disease itself, the CDC makes recommendations for pregnant women and couples regarding the potential for birth defects and microcephaly in children. The CDC encourages pregnant women and their partners to not travel to Miami, nor any other area where the disease-bearing mosquito has been found. They also recommend couples infected with the disease to wait a certain period of time before trying to get pregnant.
So … is abortion really going to solve the problem?
Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry may want you to think so. As mentioned before, a link between Zika and microcephaly has been declared. However, aborting the baby because of a birth defect/disability does not solve the problem or treat the virus. It only ends a human life.
At this time, researchers are working on developing an actual solution to the problem – a vaccine for the disease. In a recent article by the Washington Post, the National Institutes of Health tested an experimental vaccine for the dengue virus on a select group of volunteers, and experienced 100 percent success. The Post writes,
“The promising results bode well for efforts to develop a Zika vaccine. Zika and dengue are in the same family of viruses, and NIH officials have said they hope to cut the timeline for having a Zika vaccine by building on their work on dengue.”
Regarding the creation of a vaccine for Zika, some have also claimed that aborted fetal tissue is necessary and would speed up the process. On this topic, Kathleen M. Schmainda, PhD, professor at the Center for Imaging Research at the Medical College of Wisconsin, testified at the hearing on “Bioethics and Fetal Tissue” held by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Panel of the Committee on Energy and Commerce. She stated:
“Development of a vaccine against Zika also would not need any aborted human fetal tissue. Modern vaccine development does not rely on fetal tissue or human fetal cell lines. Another recent example of this is the announced success of a field test of a vaccine against Dengue virus, a close relative of Zika. The vaccine provided 100% protection, but was developed using monkey cells and a mosquito cell line.”
Furthermore, Catherine Glenn Foster, Associate Scholar at the Charlotte Lozier Institute, education and research arm for the Susan B. Anthony List, testified during the hearing on the “Pricing of Fetal Tissue” by the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. She stated:
“Scientists from numerous esteemed academic institutions are very successfully researching the effects of the Zika virus on developing human brain cells without using aborted fetal tissue. For example, this year in the leading research journal Cell Stem Cell, researchers from Florida State, Johns Hopkins, and Emory published their work Zika Virus Infects Human Cortical Neural Progenitors and Attenuates Their Growth, in which they describe their success in developing a model system demonstrating that Zika can infect and damage some developing brain cells. The model … was developed with Nobel Prize-winning, ethically sourced human induced pluripotent stem cells, rather than tissues from aborted babies… And we know that modern vaccine development is not based on fetal tissue.”
As Dr. Poland notes, the development of the vaccine will most likely take a couple years before it can be safely utilized. However, as a solution to the problem is being formulated, preventative measures (as recommended by the CDC) can be taken.
At the same time, society should not let the potential risks correlated with the infection cloud out the value and respect we should have for other human beings. A child with microcephaly may have a smaller head and may be challenged with certain developmental disabilities (which depend on the severity of the individual case), but does that make this child’s life any less worthy of life? Our culture has adopted a mindset that the closer to perfection you are, the more valuable your life is. Are we to judge the perfection of another and hence the value of another human being’s life?
Regardless of their imperfections, people born with disabilities or birth defects (perhaps as a result of Zika) are just as worthy of life as anyone else. Abortion will not solve the problem. By ending innocent human life, it only makes it bigger.