>> Pregnant women in Latin American countries, where abortion are restricted and in many cases illegal, are being thrust into a desperate position as Zika spreads through the region. Afraid of the worst effects of the virus on their unborn babies, they're increasingly turning into abortion pills. According to a new study released this week.
Reuters reporter Julie Steenhuysen.>> What research is actually did is they had historical five year data. And they came up with what would be an expected number of abortion requests from women in these countries. And they compared that to what happened after a date in November when the Pan American Health Organization issued an alert across Latin America about the risks of the Zika virus.
And what they found is dramatic increases especially in Brazil, where requests doubled. Also high levels of requests in Venezuela and a number of other countries where abortion laws restrict access to abortion.>> Mosquito borne Zika, which as been shown to cause brain deformities in babies. Has spread to more than three dozen countries in North and South America.
Earlier this month, the World Health Organization suggested couples in areas where the virus has been transmitted consider delaying pregnancy. But that advice offered little recourse for women who are already pregnant or have limited access to birth control. The study only looked at demand for abortion pills at one non-profit agency, but Steenhuysen says it may have broader implications.
>> What the research doesn't tell us is whether or not women are also seeking other types of abortion that may not be safe, or legal in their areas, because of their fear of microcephaly that could occur in their unborn child. The study author say, this may offer a window into what might be happening.
But of course they can't confirm illegal abortion and risky procedures that women might be seeking but it does raise concerns.>> One researcher telling Reuters that many of the women requesting help from the agency felt under-informed and very scared.