Zika virus: ‘Mum didn’t abort me despite my condition’

Thu, 4 Feb 2016

A Brazilian journalist has said she feels “offended and attacked” that activists want abortion to be allowed for a condition that she was born with called microcephaly.

Microcephaly, which results in babies being born with abnormally small heads and the chance of delayed brain development, is thought to be connected to the rapidly-spreading Zika virus.

A group of lawyers, activists and scientists in Brazil is handing over a new petition to the country’s Supreme Court in two months’ time to ask for abortion to be legalised in cases where mothers have contracted the virus.

Prejudice

But 24-year-old Ana Carolina Caceres, who was born with microcephaly, has criticised the campaign saying that people need to “put their prejudices aside and learn about this syndrome”.

Our mothers did not abort. That is why we existAna Carolina Caceres

When she was born, doctors said that Ana would not walk or talk and would be in a vegetative state until she died.

Now, Ana has no health problems, although she has had five operations and took medication until she was twelve years old.

Survived

“Microcephaly is a box of surprises. You may suffer from serious problems or you may not”, she said.

“So I believe that those who have abortions are not giving their children a chance to succeed.

“I survived, as do many others with microcephaly. Our mothers did not abort. That is why we exist”, she added.

‘Offended and attacked’

Ana continued, “when I read that activists in Brazil were urging the Supreme Court to allow abortion in cases of microcephaly, I felt offended and attacked”.

“I believe that abortion is a short-sighted attempt to tackle the problem. The most important thing is access to treatment: counselling for parents and older sufferers, and physiotherapy and neurological treatment for those born with microcephaly.

“I certainly know that microcephaly can have more serious consequences than the ones I experienced and I am aware that not everyone with microcephaly will be lucky enough to have a life like mine.

‘Remain calm’

“But what I recommend to mothers or pregnant women is that they remain calm. Microcephaly is an ugly name but it’s not an evil monster”, she said.

The World Health Organisation has declared that the Zika virus is a “public health emergency of international concern” – this means aid and research will be fast-tracked to try and tackle it.

The declaration puts the virus, which is carried by mosquitoes, in the same category as Ebola.

Since October, there have been an estimated 4,000 reported cases of microcephaly in Brazil.