Zika has become more of a concern as the virus, which is carried by the aedis aegypti mosquito, rapidly spreads. Health experts have warned that women should try not to get pregnant or to get pregnant later if they have been exposed to the virus—and some athletes have even dropped out of the Olympic Games in Rio this summer out of concerns that the virus could affect their ability to have healthy children. The virus is known to cause birth defects as well as neurological effects for the fetus.
When a woman does become pregant with Zika, she'll have to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. It's not an easy decision: TIME magazine reported that babies with microcephaly, the birth defect caused by the Zika virus, could take approximately $2 million to raise in the first few years of its life, and, unfortunately, the child may not live for very long. The birth defect also may not be detected until the second trimester, which means that the woman would have to make this difficult decision without knowing all the information. Many places put more restrictions on second-term abortions than first-term abortions, and second-term abortions can also be significantly more expensive.
However, as the Zika virus makes it way to the United States, experts are finding that the areas that have been impacted the most by the aedis aegypti mosquito, mostly in Latin America, are regions where women typically have less access to these options, like abortion. According to The New England Journal of Medicine, women in Zika-stricken areas are seeking more abortions. As a result, experts worry that U.S. states affected by the Zika virus—primarily Southern states—which have high restrictions on abortion will harm women who are seeking this option.
As Congress fails to allow more funding for Zika virus research, along with funding for Planned Parenthood, this could potentially become a serious problem for Zika-infected women who have hard decisions to make about their pregnancies.