PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Catholic Church believes that contraception, such as birth control, is sinful and immoral. However the Zika virus, that’s threatened the livelihood of women and their children in Latin America, has the head of the church singing a different tune.
In the case of the Zika virus, Pope Francis has suggested that women threatened with the virus are allowed to use contraception. However, they are not allowed to abort their fetus.
According to CNN, the Pope made the comment Thursday, at a press conference, on a flight from Mexico headed to Rome. He was asked if the church should consider contraception the “lesser of two evils” compared with the possibility of women aborting fetuses infected with Zika.
The Pope answered by calling abortion an “absolute evil” and a “crime. It is to kill someone in order to save another. This is what the Mafia does,” Francis said. “On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.”
The Zika virus has made headlines in recent months. Researchers believe the virus causes microcephaly in the fetuses of pregnant woman, causing them to have babies with abnormally small heads, as well as other major side effects.
The major controversy here is that Brazil is the world’s most populous Catholic country. The Catholic Church and Pentecostal faiths have strong forces in this deeply religious region.
To address religious concerns and the outbreak, Brazil and several other Latin American nations have urged women to put off pregnancies entirely. But, critics say the recommendation is impractical in a region where access to sex education, contraception and pre-natal care is precarious and most pregnancies remain unplanned.
“If tests confirm the virus, in a pregnant woman, she should then be given the right to choose between going through a high-risk prenatal period and pregnancy and give birth to her child or abort without fear of breaking the law,” attorney and legal counselor Sinara Gumieri, told CBS.
Some people feel differently.
Danielle Alves, who lives in Vitoria da Conquista, a city in the impoverished northeastern region where Brazil’s tandem Zika and microcephaly outbreaks have been centered, spoke with CBS.
According to her, “I know it’s very difficult to have a special needs child, but I’m absolutely against abortion.”
Alves’ son has microcephaly, and at 3-years-old he cannot walk, talk, or eat without her help.