Dutch group offering abortion assistance to Zika virus victims

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No image availableNL Times

Dutch abortion service Woman on Web is offering free medical abortion pills to women in Middle- and South America who are infected with the Zika virus. The women will have to go through an online consultation during which they must show that they are less than 9 weeks pregnant and send the laboratory results showing that they are infected with the virus before the pills are sent.

The virus is associated with brain abnormalities in unborn children, though the connection has not yet been scientifically proven. During a previous outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil, 3,900 children were born with brain abnormalities. The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes which do not naturally occur in the Netherlands.

Women on Web launched this initiative because abortion is legally restricted in much of South America, or only allowed if the life of the mother is in danger. In Brazil getting an abortion can even lead to prison time for the mother. The organization is concerned about the dangers involved in getting an illegal abortion.

Full information on how to apply for free medical abortion pills can be found on the Woman on Web and Women on Waves site. The site also contains information on whether abortions are allowed in affected countries, and if so where to find safe packages.

"We want to provide women with good information and make it clear that getting an abortion is an option", Rebecca Comperts, the driving force behind Women on Waves and Women on Web, said to broadcaster NOS. She believes that their initiative will help curb the unrest and panic among pregnant women in the affected countries. "Now women look for someone who can help them to have an abortion. Especially in a country like Brazil this is not always safe. We can provide safe assistance if required."

On Monday the World Health Organization convened in an emergency session to determine whether the Zika virus can be classified as a global emergency, Elsevier reports. If the virus gets this classification, the WHO gets additional capabilities, such as being able to give affected countries guidance on how to fight the disease.