Updated 10:16 AM EST, Sat, Dec 15, 2018

Zika Virus Alert: Why the UN Urges Latin American Countries to Give Women Access to Contraceptives & Abortion

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With the spread of the Zika virus in Latin America, the United Nations was prompted to call on the government of these countries to allow women to have access on abortion and contraception.

CBC News said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has appealed to make reproductive options available for women in these countries and give them the right to end pregnancy.

"Laws and policies that restrict her access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice," Al Hussein said in a statement.

All Hussein's spokesperson Cecile Pouilly also told CBC News that they have asked the countries, which are mostly Catholic-dominated, to change their laws on abortion and contraception.

It was added in The Guardian report that the UN suggestion has started debate since the region is dominated by a Catholics who are not in favor of ending an unborn's life.

Women in Latin America reportedly have limited options when it comes to birth control because of their laws on the use of contraception and abortion.

The UN made special mention of El Salvador which openly denounced even the thought of considering abortion or using contraception as a means to stop the Zika virus. The Guardian said the country has one of the highest numbers of Zika cases but it still considers miscarriages as "murder."

It was also noted in the same report that the UN initiative was favoured by the Center for Reproductive Rights, a non-government agency based in the United States.

"Women cannot solely bear the burden of curbing the Zika virus. We agree with the OHCHR that these governments must fulfil their international human rights obligations and cannot shirk that responsibility or pass it off to women," said the group's legal adviser Charles Abbott.

As of December last year, The New York Times said that the virus has been transmitted to about 45 countries in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Pacific Islands, based on a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Other South American countries with reported Zika virus cases include Brazil, Colombia and Honduras.

It was explained in a CBS News report said that the mosquito-borne disease has been associated with giving birth to babies with very small heads and undeveloped brains -- a condition dubbed as microcephaly.

Last year, more than 3,5000 women in Brazil had babies born with the said condition.

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