Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who dropped out of the presidential race in March, said that women infected with Zika virus should not be allowed to have abortions, in spite of the risk of the babies being born with microcephaly.
Rubio told Politico in an interview, "I understand a lot of people disagree with my view – but I believe that all human life is worthy of protection of our laws. And when you present it in the context of Zika or any prenatal condition, it's a difficult question and a hard one. But if I'm going to err, I'm going to err on the side of life." The Republican, who supported Zika-funding bills in the senate, accused democrats for the failure to pass federal aid. He stressed that he voted for every Zika-funding bill he could.
Zika virus only induces minor symptoms in adults but can cause birth defects in babies, namely microcephaly, unusually small heads- that can trigger seizures and developmental delays.
Rubio said that he was aware of the severe birth defects it could cause but went on to say that "Obviously, microcephaly is a terrible prenatal condition that kids are born with. And when they are, it's a lifetime of difficulties. "So I get it. I'm not pretending to you that that's an easy question you asked me. But I'm prolife. And I'm strongly prolife. I believe all human life should be protected by our law, irrespective of the circumstances or condition of that life."
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that Florida is the second worst Zika-affected state in the US, after New York, but it is the only state to have evidence for transmissions locally rather than amongst people who travelled to the affected countries. A square mile of area in Miami has been declared as no go zone for pregnant women to protect foetuses which are still developing. The state is now believed to have 422 cases of Zika infections.
Tom Freidan, Director of Center for disease control told Politico: "We've never before had a mosquito-borne disease that can cause a birth defect. That's why we take it so seriously. The key is to protect pregnant women."
Florida governor, Rick Scott, has called for an increase in federal aid to fight the disease, additionally to the millions that Obama has already released in grants. On 5 August, the federal Food and Drug administration authorised a private company to release genetically modified mosquitoes to help fight Zika on an island in Florida Keys. It will be subject to a local referendum in November.
The senator during his presidential campaign had said he was opposed to abortion in all cases, including rape and incest.