Via Thomson Reuters: Zika looms but El Salvador stands firm on abortion ban. Excerpt:
Six months pregnant with her first child, teenager Estefanie Esmeralda is well aware of the dangers the mosquito-borne Zika virus may pose to her unborn baby.
Yet she like many people in El Salvador can not have a legal abortion, which is banned in the socially conservative nation.
"I've been told about Zika, the problems it can bring and the precautions I need to take to not get the virus. It's a risk that you run," said the 16-year-old as she waited for a free pre-natal check-up at the country's main hospital for women.
"I don't think the abortion law should be changed," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. "Babies aren't to blame for Zika and the mistakes people make. Babies are a blessing from God."
El Salvador's health ministry has advised women to postpone pregnancy until 2017 after a rise of babies born in Brazil with microcephaly, a condition marked by an abnormally small head and underdeveloped brain linked to Zika.
But a legal abortion is not an option. Due to El Salvador's stringent law, among the world's most restrictive, women ending unwanted pregnancies risk illegal, unsafe back alley procedures and the possibility of prison.
El Salvador, with 6.4 million residents, is one of three Latin American countries that outlaw abortion without exception, even in cases of rape, incest, a severely deformed fetus or when a woman's life is in danger.
The Zika outbreak in El Salvador has done little to ignite debate about easing the ban.
Most Salvadorans are members of the Roman Catholic Church or numerous Christian Evangelical churches that consider abortion a sin and believe the rights of unborn children, enshrined in El Salvador's constitution, should be protected from conception.