The spread of the Zika virus is putting pressure on the Catholic Church in Latin America to relax its strict policies toward artificial contraception.
Christian Today reports that, although the virus threatens many people in Latin America where Catholicism has a huge influence and where the Pope himself is from, the Vatican has thus far remained silent on the issue of contraception and the Zika virus.
The Church’s official policy is that artificial birth control should not be used, even to prevent HIV infection.
However, the growing threat of the Zika virus provides a new threat. The growing number of babies being born with microcephaly, a condition in which the child’s head and brain are proportionately small, is thought to be linked to the spread of the virus.
Tewedros Melesse, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, stated: "Despite opposition, in recent decades Latin America has made great strides in amplifying access to contraception. However much more needs to be done. In the face of the Zika virus, these gains need to be echoed throughout the region – especially for adolescents, poor women and those living in rural areas who are most likely to be exposed to the virus and least likely to have access to reproductive health services.
"Access to contraception should be available to all. Governments must ensure their medical services have the supplies for those who want it. We recommend strengthening family planning programmes and access to safe abortion services for those women who need it and where it is permitted by law."
The Catholic Church is faced with a huge issue with the spread of the Zika virus, especially since women in some Latin American countries have been told not to get pregnant for two years in order to halt the spread of the virus.
Nearly four in 10 of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics live in Latin America.
Publication date: February 5, 2016