CAPE CORAL, Fla. -- A Cape Coral family center backed Marco Rubio's controversial remarks about Zika-infected women terminating pregnancy, Tuesday.
This comes after a newborn died in the Houston area from birth defects, including Microcephaly, making it the first Zika-associated death in the state of Texas. The mother traveled to Latin-America during her pregnancy where it is suspected she became infected.
This is just days after Senator Marco Rubio said women should not be allowed to terminate pregnancy, even if she is infected with Zika.
Fox 4 spoke with a local doctor, who explained Microcephaly, which can be caused by the Zika virus. "What it can do is cross into the womb and one of the side effects or birth defects that are linked with it is Microcephaly," said Dr. Krista Zivkovic. "Brain development is abnormal. Therefore, the head and skull development also follows, so everything is much smaller. Micro meaning small, Cephaly meaning head."
According to the CDC, complications due to the disorder can include
- developmental delays in speech & movement
- decreased ability to learn and function in daily life
- feeding problems (i.e. difficulty swallowing)
- hearing, vision loss
In severe cases, death can occur. However, Dr. Zivkovic said people can live into adulthood with the disorder. "It does not mean instant death, it does not mean they can't be functional. It usually means they will require special services.
The Lifeline Family Center in Cape Coral tells Fox 4 they believe all babies deserve the chance to live, even if their brains are severely underdeveloped. "If you're looking for a perfect society, then you would abort imperfect children and you're aligning yourself pretty close to Hitler," said Kathy Miller, CEO of the center.
She's aligned with Senator Marco Rubio, who made controversial comments about the virus last week. He believes women should not be allowed to terminate a pregnancy, even if that baby does not have the best chance of living. "That's God's plan," said Miller. "If that baby is born and God takes that baby's life, he's fulfilled his purpose. But as man, we shouldn't make that choice."
A choice Dr. Zivkovic said should also be left to the mother. "If they know that there's going to be a complication, they have that choice to decide what they want to do, knowing what the consequence could be if they proceed, and knowing what the consequence will be if they choose not to proceed. I can't judge a woman's decision for that," she said.
The debate has also become a key issue in the U.S. Senate race. Marco Rubio is running for re-election, and has also said women shouldn't be able to get abortions if they're raped or victims of incest. His democratic challengers Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson have blasted him, saying he's an extremist working to keep women from making their own health choices.