The spread of the Zika virus may be changing Americans' views on late-term abortion, presenting a new challenge for abortion opponents.

Polls conducted in July by STAT News and Harvard University's T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that people asked about late-term abortion were largely opposed to it until the question was framed to include babies who may have microcephaly caused by Zika.

Then, 59 percent of respondents said they would support abortion after 24 weeks, in contrast to 23 percent who said they would when microcephaly wasn't mentioned, Helen Branswell of STAT reported.

Support for late-term abortions when microcephaly is suspected increased even among Republicans, according to STAT.

Forty-eight percent said they would support the late-term abortion of a baby with microcephaly, compared with just 12 percent when not asked specifically about Zika defects.

Among Democrats, the numbers climbed to 72 percent in favor of aborting Zika babies after 24 weeks, compared with 34 when microcephaly was not mentioned.

“The data are clear that although people aren’t in favor of late-term abortion in general, they are sympathetic to women when their pregnancies can be affected by Zika virus,” Gillian SteelFisher, deputy director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, told Branswell.


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