Zika Virus Does Not Justify Rights Infringement

Zika Virus Does Not Justify Rights Infringement

By Connor Borden, Contributing Writer

Donning its robes of misplaced fear and widespread paranoia, Zika has sat down on the epidemic throne. Despite how little doctors understand about this virus, the World Health Organization has declared a state of public health emergency as a result of this disease. Its rapid spread across countries and continents is undeniable, even now landing in the United States. The precautions set forth by the WHO, Centers for Disease Control and other countries’ health groups presumptively limit the freedoms of women across the Americas, which is unacceptable.

It goes without saying that the potential risks of the Zika virus mean that any sexually active woman should take extra precautions. However, women looking to be mothers should certainly not be barred from becoming pregnant. Some countries have requested that the women of their country refrain from pregnancy entirely. El Salvador has asked that women set this portion of their lives aside until 2018. None of these countries have announced they would make an effort to provide support in contraceptives or abortion services to avoid pregnancies. It is unrealistic and highly invasive to ask women to abstain from sex as their only option for birth control.

It is true that Brazil has suffered from a sudden flood of microcephaly, a condition in which newborns experience severely impaired brain development. Scientists later found evidence of Zika in some of these infants, but an epidemiological study has not yet reached completion. Therefore, the public health agents still do not have the solid proof necessary to allow these flagrantly unjust precautions. Zika can be transmitted sexually — which can be combatted with the use of condoms — as well as through mosquitoes, but the United States specifically has been diligent in protecting its citizens against the type of mosquito that carries this virus.

In recent years, the anti-vaccination trend has caused some far more malevolent diseases, such as measles, to come roaring back into newborn populations. Concerns should lie with the conditions that are killing children, or even with viruses much more potent and deadly than Zika which, for the vast majority of the population, just causes a rash and a fever. The real concern here is panic about the Zika virus, which can all too easily lay the path for unwarranted infringements on individual rights. While Latin America has allowed fear to overtake concerns for rights and practicality, where governments have passed sweeping measures that limit women’s anatomical freedom, the United States must take care not to make the same mistakes. Public health should be a matter that is left to the states. Declarations of public health procedure from central governments as sweeping as these overstep the boundaries of a federal government.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Feb. 1 print edition. Email Connor Borden at [email protected]