UN rights boss urges abortion right upheld in Zika outbreak

UN health officials called for countries with the Zika virus to uphold their women's right to terminate pregnancies.
UN health officials called for countries with the Zika virus to uphold their women's right to terminate pregnancies.PHOTO: REUTERS

GENEVA (REUTERS) - The top United Nations human rights official called on Friday (Feb 5) for countries with the Zika virus to make available sexual and reproductive health counselling to women and uphold their right to terminate pregnancies.

"Laws and policies that restrict her access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement.

The virus has been linked to microcephaly, a condition that leads to babies being born with small heads and birth defects.

His spokeswoman, Cecile Pouilly, asked about countries such as El Salvador that criminalise abortion, told a news briefing:"That's why we are asking those governments to go back and change those laws because how can they ask these women not to become pregnant? But also not offer them first information that is available but also the possibility to stop their pregnancies if they wish so."