Effects of Zika Virus on Health Law and Reproductive Rights in Ecuador




Latin, Sarah

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In early 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. There is currently no preventative vaccine, nor specific treatment for the virus. As communities throughout South America have discovered, when Zika spreads from a pregnant woman to her fetus, there exists the grave possibility of the baby being born with microcephaly – that is, an underdeveloped brain. The overwhelming response of South American governments has been to suggest that women abstain from getting pregnant for the foreseeable future. However, given the inaccessibility of contraceptives, combined with the illegality of abortions, more women are challenging dominant health law and reproductive rights norms around the continent. This project examines the ramifications of Zika on health law norms in Ecuador by posing the following question: How is Zika affecting reproductive health norms in Ecuador, both within legal and sociopolitical contexts? As is to be expected, this question is not simple - but rather nuanced and intersecting - and poses, in turn, greater questions: What role does class and race play in access to healthcare? Who creates the laws limiting reproductive rights? Who suffers disproportionately from these restrictions? Where does religion fit into all of this? And what challenges still face women in both Latin America and around the world with regards to bodily autonomy and their fundamental human rights? 



Zika, virus, health law, reproductive rights, human rights, abortion, contraception, religion, feminism, Latin America, South America