(Q24N) via Latimes.com – As the Zika virus, which has been linked to birth defects, spreads across Latin America, the demand for abortions is increasing in countries where there are few legal avenues to obtain one.

Cultured cells that have been infected with the Zika virus. (Dr. Erik Lattwein / Euroimmun AG/H / European Pressphoto Agency
Cultured cells that have been infected with the Zika virus. (Dr. Erik Lattwein / Euroimmun AG/H / European Pressphoto Agency

“It has made the issue more salient and has highlighted the cruelty behind some of these restrictive abortion laws,” said Francoise Girard, president of the International Women’s Health Coalition, a New York-based nonprofit that advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights.

“There is an incredible amount of anxiety, fear and stress among women that are pregnant,” she added.

Leticia Zenevich, a spokeswoman for Women on Web, an international nonprofit that provides advice and drugs to women who want abortions but live in countries where the practice is banned, said that requests for abortion-inducing medication have surged since the outbreak began.