US Pharm. 2016;41(9):HS-12.

According to a study coauthored by Princeton University and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, pregnant women in Latin American countries were more likely to seek an abortion after receiving health alerts about Zika virus.

The researchers analyzed data from Women on Web, an online site that connects patients with doctors able to prescribe abortion pills. They found that many Latin American women using the site reported Zika as their reason for seeking an abortion. The researchers found an increase in Women on Web abortion requests in countries that issued health advisories about Zika but also legally restrict abortions. The mosquito-borne virus is associated with microcephaly, a congenital condition that results in babies that are born with abnormally small heads.

“Zika will inevitably spread to other countries where safe abortion is restricted,” said coauthor James Trussell, the Charles and Marie Robertson Professor of Public and International Affairs, Emeritus, at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. “Therefore, we must ensure that all reproductive choices are safe, legal and accessible,” Trussell said. “To do otherwise would be irresponsible public health practice and unjust policy.”