Viruses and Reproductive Injustice: Zika in Brazil
Publisher : Johns Hopkins University Press (January 30, 2024)
Language : English
Paperback : 294 pages
ISBN-13 : 978-1421447919
Brazil's Zika outbreak revealed extreme health disparities and reproductive injustice across racial and socioeconomic lines.
Brazil's 2015 Zika outbreak led to severe illnesses for many and the birth of several thousands of children with severe brain damage. Even though mosquito-borne diseases such as the Zika virus affect people across society, these children were born almost exclusively to poor, and usually non-white, women. In Viruses and Reproductive Injustice, Ilana Löwy explores the complicated health disparities and reproductive injustice that led to these cases of congenital Zika syndrome.
Löwy examines the history of the outbreak in Brazil and connects it to broader questions concerning reproductive rights, the medical science behind understanding new pathogens, and the role of international health organizations in battling—or ignoring—public health crises. The explanation behind the strongly skewed distribution of cases among social classes was far from straightforward or obvious during the Zika outbreak. Löwy argues that the disproportionate effect of Zika on births among the poor is primarily a function of dramatic disparities in access to contraception and prenatal care, as well as Brazil's anti-abortion laws: only wealthier women have access to safe abortions. This is a book about the changing meaning of an infectious disease outbreak and a haunting demonstration that an epidemic is both a biological and a political event produced by the complicated entanglement of humans, viruses, and mosquitoes.