(USNEWS) — Pregnant women in Latin American and Caribbean countries under Zika virus alerts are increasingly turning to the internet to obtain abortion medications that would otherwise be beyond their reach due to restrictive abortion laws, researchers reported Wednesday.
In virtually every country in South America, Central America and the Caribbean where abortion is restricted and authorities have issued Zika warnings, internet requests for abortion medications soared by at least 36 percent – and as much as 108 percent – after the Pan American Health Organization issued a Zika alert. There were also small increases among women in Argentina and Peru, which so far haven't been affected by Zika but do have highly restrictive abortion laws.
A pregnant woman waits to be attended at the Maternal and Children's Hospital in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on Jan. 21, 2016.
Multi-Country Zika Study in Mothers-to-Be, Babies
The requests were received by an activist group based in Amsterdam, called Women on Web, which provides access to the abortion drugs mifepristone and misoprostol by mail in countries where safe abortion is not universally available. Contraception may also be difficult to obtain, especially when women are poor or live in societies where women have little say over their sexuality.
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