Americans approve of late-term abortions when Zika has harmed the fetus

A majority of Americans — 59 percent — approve of abortions after 24 weeks in cases in which a Zika infection has harmed the fetus, according to a new poll conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston and STAT. The legal cutoff restricting abortions is 22 or 24 weeks in most states.

Most Americans generally oppose late-term abortions. According to STAT, when microcephaly was not a possibility, only 23 percent of those asked in a separate poll responded in favor of allowing women to obtain abortions after 24 weeks.

Warren Hern, MD, PhD, a late-term abortion specialist from Boulder, Colo., told STAT said it was not reasonable or logical to permit late-term abortions for Zika-related defects while restricting it in cases where other defects are detected.

Dr. Hern said, "There are many, many reasons why women seek late abortion. And many of those reasons have to do with catastrophic fetal abnormalities that are not discovered until late in pregnancy."

The issue is likely to move to the forefront of public discourse as local Zika transmission continues in Florida and national case counts continue to rise.

As of Aug. 3, there have been 497 pregnant women with documented evidence of Zika infection reported in the U.S., resulting in the birth of 15 babies with Zika-related birth defects. Six additional pregnancies were either terminated or lost to miscarriage or stillbirth related to Zika.

The most recent STAT-Harvard poll involved more than 1,000 adults and was conducted from July 20 to July 24.

More articles on the Zika virus: 
Americans still not worried about the Zika virus: 4 new poll findings 
CDC director: Local Zika spread could last a year in Florida 
Genetically modified mosquitoes approved by FDA to fight Zika in Florida

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