MEPs discussed the outbreak of the Zika virus in the European Parliament this morning. This virus is rapidly spreading across South America and is suspected of causing serious birth defects, including microcephaly in newborns.

Speaking on behalf of GUE/NGL, Lynn Boylan, member of the Committee on Environment Public Health and Consumer Safety, stressed the need for the EU to support scientific research to conclusively establish the link between the Zika virus and microcephaly.

She continued: “We must also be aware of the fact that simply telling women to delay pregnancy is not good enough. Many of these countries deny women access to information on their reproductive rights, so concrete steps must be taken to ensure that women have the information, support and services they need to exercise their rights to determine whether and when they become pregnant.”

MEP Boylan referred to the United Nations Human Rights chief who said that in situations where sexual violence is rampant and sexual and reproductive health services are criminalised, efforts to halt this crisis will not be enhanced by placing the focus on advising women and girls not to become pregnant.

She concluded by welcoming the EU support of 10 million euros. “However, I believe that we must also pro-actively support those organisations who are trying to help women in these regions.”

GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Gay Kavanagh +32 473 84 23 20

Nikki Sullings + 32 483 03 55 75

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