More Americans support late-term abortion if Zika harms fetus, poll says

Zika virus can cause microcephaly

By Mary Claire Patton - Digital Content Curator

Women who contract the Zika virus could have a baby born with microcephaly. Most people who have Zika don’t get sick enough to go to the hospital and the virus rarely kills its host.

Microcephaly is a birth defect that causes a baby’s head to be smaller. Additionally, it can cause mental retardation, speech delays and brain defects.

A new STAT-Harvard poll shows that 59 percent of Americans are in favor of ending a pregnancy after 24 weeks if the fetus has, or shows signs of, microcephaly.

Most states prohibit abortions after a certain point in pregnancy, usually around 22 weeks into the pregnancy.

Click here for a more detailed list of late abortion policies by state.

However, microcephaly is usually diagnosed after week 24 of gestation.

The CDC reports 479 cases of pregnant women that show lab evidence of the Zika virus in the U.S. 

Fifteen of those cases have resulted in infants born with birth defects. An additional six cases involved birth defects, but the pregnancy was lost.

“The data are clear that although people aren’t in favor of late-term abortion in general, they are sympathetic to women when their pregnancies can be affected by Zika virus,” Gillian SteelFisher, deputy director of the Harvard Opinion Research program, said.

Congress left for summer recess without approving funding for Zika-related issues.

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