Maine has a long history of basing our reproductive health policies on science. So it was disappointing to hear Gov. LePage share inaccurate health information about immigrants and the Zika virus at a town hall meeting in Freeport last month.

There hasn’t been a single reported case of locally acquired vector-borne Zika virus in Maine. There has been just one travel-related case, diagnosed in a Hancock County resident who is over the age of 65.

At this time, public health experts including the World Health Organization agree the best prevention and control strategies rely on reducing exposure to mosquitoes, which carry the Zika virus. They do not call for closing borders or otherwise targeting human beings of any nationality or immigration status.

Misplacing the blame for Zika on immigration hinders real efforts to address the health and safety of those affected by or at risk of the disease. It also distracts us from a real issue: The current Zika outbreak is a reproductive health crisis that disproportionately affects the health and safety of pregnant women and infants.

While we are not presently facing an outbreak of a disease like Zika, we might one day, and we must take this opportunity to learn from the crisis in Latin America. There are steps we can take now to ensure the health and safety of pregnant women and infants in the future.

For starters, we can ensure that effective birth control and safe, legal abortion are accessible for those who want to prevent, delay or terminate pregnancies. We can also make sure that young people and adults receive accurate, unbiased information about sexual health and reproductive rights.

In Colombia, a country hit hard by Zika, lawmakers who want to deny women the right to an abortion have spread false information about reproductive services. This has led to confusion and fear, and, according to the Guttmacher Institute, to thousands of unplanned pregnancies in that country. The U.S. is not immune to such misinformation campaigns; anti-choice politicians have passed laws requiring doctors to read from scripts that provide medically inaccurate information.

Second, we must stop criminalizing pregnant women. In El Salvador, women who arrive at the hospital with pregnancy complications are often accused of attempting an illegal abortion and subsequently charged with a crime. The resulting fear of jail time is a major deterrent for any woman to seek pregnancy care, since many do not know if they’ve been exposed to Zika.

Unfortunately, this can happen in the U.S., too. Just last year, a woman in Indiana was jailed on charges of feticide after suffering a miscarriage at 30 weeks. We must make it easier for women to seek medical attention, not threaten them with jail time for doing so.

Third, we should ensure that women, children and families struggling with medical issues have access to health care. One way we can do that is to expand MaineCare using the funds available to our state under the Affordable Care Act.

We should also expand access to paid sick days so that people can go to the doctor for pre- and postnatal checkups, and so parents can take the time they need to care for a sick child.

Fourth, we can make sure that the basic needs of all Maine children are met. Forty-five thousand kids in our state are living in poverty – a number that has continued to rise in recent years.

Supporting food assistance programs, investing in housing programs and raising the minimum wage are some of the ways we can help move families out of poverty and ensure that Maine children have a place to sleep and do not go to bed hungry.

Last, we can be welcoming to immigrants fleeing violence, persecution and famine in other countries who want to make a safer life in our beautiful state – providing them with the support necessary to raise their families safely and with dignity.

The Zika epidemic has yet to have a widespread impact on the health of Mainers – and hopefully it won’t. There are steps we can take to support the reproductive health and economic well-being of Maine women and their children right now. When we are faced with a public health crisis, we must demand that our response is directed by science and data – not by fear. When we allow misinformation to distract us from the real problem, we are all at risk.