In response to the Zika epidemic, Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Dr. Willie Parker issued the following statement:
“As the Zika epidemic becomes a heightened priority around the world, we must ensure that all women and their partners have equal and affordable access to safe and legal reproductive health care.
“Patients have contracted Zika in Florida, and travel-related Zika cases abound in many states. Because of the many unanswered questions about Zika’s serious effects on developing pregnancies, it is critical that people at risk of contracting or who are affected by Zika have timely access to comprehensive reproductive health care. This includes access to services to prevent unintended pregnancy, access to health care providers who understand Zika transmission, access to testing for the virus, and access to experts who study the impact of infection on a developing embryo and fetus.
“There is much that we do not yet know about Zika and its effects on the population. That is why it is critical that research and prevention efforts be fully funded and free of political restrictions such as prohibitions on contraceptives, abortion, or fetal tissue research. Political games deprive the medical and scientific communities of the funding needed to provide essential services to those affected by the virus and to prevent its spread.
“As physicians, we know that families facing difficult decisions deserve compassion and access to all available resources for prevention and treatment. In some situations, a woman and her family may decide that abortion is the best option. It is critical that patients be able to access the safe abortion care that they need without delay and without stigma. We implore our elected officials to devote the resources necessary to make sure that women and their families are able to access the highest quality treatment and care and can make the decisions that are best for their circumstances.”