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Sunday, January 31, 2016


by Joan Mazza

El Salvador wants women to avoid getting pregnant until 2018, out of concern for the Zika virus rampaging through Latin America. Zika virus can cause serious birth defects, a fact that has led several Latin American countries to ask local women to hold off on getting pregnant until the outbreak is under control. El Salvador, however, is the first to announce a two-year ban on baby-making. “We’d like to suggest to all the women of fertile age that they take steps to plan their pregnancies, and avoid getting pregnant between this year and next,” El Salvador’s Deputy Health Minister Eduardo Espinoza told Reuters. Here’s the problem: Abortions are illegal in El Salvador, and birth control is hard to come by. The irony, which seems lost on El Salvador, is that the same government that denies women control over their reproductive health is now asking those same women to control their reproductive health until 2018. —Vocativ, Jan. 26, 2016.  Photo: AP

The women of El Salvador are told to not get pregnant,
to postpone starting a family. Poor women without
access to reliable birth control, single women,
girls who are raped are being told to delay families,
delay their planned pregnancies. The Zika virus

causes birth defects. More than four thousand
babies have already been born with tiny heads,
impaired cognitive functions, plus other yet-to-be-
diagnosed disabilities. Mosquitoes are carriers.
Tell them to cover up to avoid being bitten

by mosquitoes, to dress in the equivalent
of a burka. Tell them not to tempt the men who
rape them because of their skimpy clothes,
long legs, pouty lips, absence of power.

Already-pregnant women hold their bellies,
wonder what they carry, what life they
will have. How will they work and care
for these children? Abortion is illegal.
Spray poison, spray standing water, drain

swimming pools. Tell them to slather
their bodies in DEET. Tell women not to travel
to infected countries if they are pregnant
or plan to be. Aedes aegypti is an aggressive biter.

You might as well tell them not to buy yachts
or furs or SUVs or private jets. These luxuries
harm habitats, hurt the planet. Consider those
whose heads are so small they can’t see straight.
Consider the many with impaired cognition.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and has been a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam), her poetry has appeared in Rattle, Kestrel, The MacGuffin, Mezzo Cammin, Buddhist Poetry Review, and The Nation. She ran away from the hurricanes of South Florida to be surprised by the earthquakes and tornadoes of rural central Virginia, where she writes poetry and does fabric and paper art.