Poll: Most in U.S. OK with late-term abortions if Zika harms fetus

Most Americans say they’d drop their aversion to late-term abortions in cases where the Zika virus has likely harmed a developing fetus, according to a new poll from STAT and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents said that women should be able to end a pregnancy after 24 weeks of gestation if testing suggested that Zika caused microcephaly in the fetus. Microcephaly is a birth defect in which a baby is born with an unusually small head and, often, an underdeveloped brain. Complications can include developmental delays, difficulties with coordination and balance, or mental retardation.

Although the vast majority of Americans typically oppose late-term abortions—which are restricted in most states—the issue has become more pressing as cases of Zika-related birth defects have mounted. As of August 4, 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 479 women in America had been infected while pregnant; 15 of those had a baby with Zika-related birth defects; and six pregnancies were lost due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion.

Gillian SteelFisher, deputy director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, said the high support for late-term abortions in cases involving Zika was notable.

“The data are clear that although people aren’t in favor of late-term abortions in general they are sympathetic to women when their pregnancies can be affected by the Zika virus,” she said in an August 5, 2016 STAT article.

See the complete poll results.

Read the STAT article: Most Americans favor late-term abortion if Zika harms fetus, STAT-Harvard poll finds

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