Via The Lancet, a letter: Contraception, safe abortion, and the Zika response.
We agree with The Lancet Editorial (Feb 11, p 573) that bolder leadership is needed to address the Zika virus epidemic and support individuals and families affected by the disease, however, the Editorial missed a crucial element of such leadership: ensuring that comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care, including safe abortion, is part of the Zika response.
In affected regions, people need information about the full range of contraceptive options (including male and female condoms that can prevent both unintended pregnancy and sexual transmission of Zika virus infection) and access to supplies and services that respect women's choices about contraception. Individuals and couples considering pregnancy need up-to-date and accurate information about the risks and potential effect of Zika virus infection, and advice about timing of pregnancy.
For pregnant women, counselling on their options is crucial. If a woman does not want to continue the pregnancy, information about and access to safe abortion services should be provided. If she does wish to continue the pregnancy, access to antenatal care, Zika virus testing, and pregnancy monitoring is essential, as is counselling and long-term care for children with microcephaly or other conditions associated with Zika virus infection. Effective referrals and financial support should be available for people who do not have the financial and other resources to get the care they need.
WHO and the global health community need to make recommendations based on rights and evidence—not politics—and emphasise the crucial role of contraception and abortion care in the Zika response.