In response to the outbreak of Zika virus, says The Lancelet Global Health Blog, some countries, for instance, Colombia, Ecuador, and Jamaica, have recommended that women delay pregnancy. This is eerily reminiscent of abstinence education as a primary means of HIV prevention. The ability to control when, where, with whom, and under what conditions to have sex is, for many women, the exception, rather than the rule. Women’s ability to delay pregnancy requires that they have control over their bodies, their sexuality, and their reproductive decision-making.
According them, pregnancy prevention is no simple matter. The UN population fund (UNFPA) notes that 225 million women have an unmet need for family planning, for reasons ranging from lack of access to information or services to lack of support from their partners or communities. Amanda Klasing from Human Rights Watch points out that some of the countries that are responding to the spread of the Zika virus by suggesting women delay pregnancy, Ecuador in particular, have strict anti-abortion laws. Contraception may not be readily available, especially for adolescents and young women, and women in rural areas. Finally, reproductive health, as Sonia Corrêa observes, is frequently the victim of health systems in disarray.
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