Pope Francis: Beat Zika virus with birth contraceptives; Avoiding pregnancy not absolute evil

By @ritwikroy1985 on
Pope Francis (C), Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (R) and his wife, Mexico's first lady Angelica Rivera stand together during a farewell ceremony in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, February 17, 2016.
Pope Francis (C), Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (R) and his wife, Mexico's first lady Angelica Rivera stand together during a farewell ceremony in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, February 17, 2016. Reuters/Jose Luis Gonzalez

Zika virus has changed Pope Francis’ outlook towards sex. The Pope, who has always spoken against abortion and branded it a crime, has stated that the church will relax its ban on contraceptives due to a looming Zika virus threat. During a press conference on Wednesday, he surprised everyone by stating that Catholic women who are threatened by the Zika virus may avoid pregnancy by using contraceptives.

“Abortion is not a lesser evil. It is a crime. Avoiding a pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, as in that one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I would also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these mosquitoes that carry this disease,” he said.

As the Zika virus is known to cause birth deformities and there is no vaccine yet, pregnant women are at risk as their babies could be born with the rare condition, microcephaly, which prevents a foetus’ brain from developing properly.

Aid organisations and the United Nations are urging countries hit by Zika to ensure that women have proper access to contraception to reduce the risk of infection. They can also get an abortion done should they decide to terminate pregnancies in the fear of Zika. Many Latin American countries do not allow abortion if the mother’s life is not in imminent danger.

If Pope Francis actually grants an exception for women in Zika-affected areas, it would be a huge thing, although the church always pushes abstinence over condoms and abortions. The Pope has not proposed any policy changes yet.

“I like to receive advice from women. A friendship with a woman is not a sin — a love affair, on the contrary, is,” the Pope said.

He urged doctors to do everything in their capacities to come up with a vaccine that can fight off the Zika virus.