Zika Virus Won’t Change Catholic Contraception Ban
As the Zika virus spreads throughout Latin America -- one of the most Catholic parts of the world -- the Church is reinforcing the doctrine that contraception is forbidden to be used by the faithful.
The challenge confronting the Roman Catholic Church in regard to Zika comes as Pope Francis makes his first trip to Mexico, a country where the virus appears to be spreading.
At first commenting little on the health crisis, bishops in Latin America are beginning to speak out and reassert the church’s opposition to birth control and abortion -- doctrines that many Catholics in Latin America find unpopular and often disregard. Even so, almost 70 percent of adults in Latin America identify as Catholic, a number that is down from 94 percent in 1950.
Many church officials have expressed concern that the Zika epidemic will act as a catalyst that leads to the loosening of laws on abortion and contraception.
No Vatican department has yet issued an official statement about the Zika issue, and there is much speculation as to whether Pope Francis will address it during his trip to Mexico, where he will be until Thursday.
Zika virus can be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus. There have been reports of a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly in babies of mothers who had Zika virus while pregnant. It is transmitted to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito, also cases of contraction through blood transfusion and sexual contact have been reported.