By: Suanu Bakor
While the woman does have autonomy to make a final decision, did her doctors and members of the ethics boards fully explain to her the circumstances surrounding her child, including the fact that her child could grow up without any developmental issues at all? Would it not be beneficent to let the child be born and then learn to handle and provide supports for any potential complications that may arise? Is it not maleficent to terminate a pregnancy simply because the mother did not want a potentially disabled child? How has justice been wrought in this situation given the fact that many women in the country of Brazil, from which she contracted the Zika virus, cannot access and will not be afforded the same care and treatment? Couldn’t this lead to many unsafe abortion practices because of the fear of delivering a child with microcephaly? These questions and many more must be considered and answered by the governing bodies within Brazil and in other nations affected by this virus.
The Zika virus has been labeled as an outbreak by the WHO and is currently at the forefront of maternal and neonatal public health agendas in Brazil and other countries that are currently affected or that could be affected because of upcoming mosquito seasons. These types of issues are not uncommon, and no matter what opinion one holds, it is apparent that such decisions are never made without much contemplation. Zika virus, its accompanying disease, and the effect on developing children has ignited a conversation for many who were not expecting to be faced with a decision like the one the European woman encountered. But this also allows for people to begin to understand and appreciate the different perspectives bioethics and disability studies have to offer on the issue.
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2. WHO: Zika virus. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2016, from http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/zika/en/.
3. Rubin, E. J., Greene, M. F., & Baden, L. R. (2016). Zika Virus and Microcephaly. New England
Journal of Medicine, 374, 984-985.