Great tragedy is often a catalyst for controversial legislative changes. The Zika virus could provide the perspective needed in South and Central America to revolutionize reproductive rights for women in the region (“Zika is a reproductive rights issue,” Ideas, Feb. 7).

In the early spring of 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory caught fire in Manhattan. The death toll was nearly 150, 123 of whom were women and girls, who, without union rights, were forced to work under extremely unsafe conditions.

In response to the tragedy, recommendations were issued for women to refrain from working in unsafe conditions. Because the reaction from the community and the media focused on the impossibility of these recommendations, the aftermath of the event changed the course of labor rights for women in the United States forever.

Without access to safe abortions and affordable contraceptives, recommendations for women to refrain from pregnancy during this Zika outbreak are similarly impossible. If the media focus heavily on this contradiction, this tragedy will result in very positive changes.


Emma L. Goldfinch