Despite Zika Outbreak, Catholic Leaders Say Contraceptives ‘Not A Solution’

When Colombia, El Salvador, and Brazil recently warned women
not to get pregnant because of the Zika virus, some human rights advocates
hoped the outbreak would propel the Latin American nations to reconsider their
strict antiabortion laws. But as the virus continues to infect thousands of
pregnant women throughout the region, putting them at risk of giving birth to
babies born with brain damage, the Roman Catholic Church is doubling down on
its conservative stance against both contraceptives and abortion.
“Contraceptives are not a solution,” Bishop Leonardo Ulrich
Steiner of Brazil said in an interview with The New York Times, in which he
confirmed that the Zika outbreak would not cause the church to change its
long-held position on the use of birth control. He joins Cardinal Odilo Scherer
of São Paulo and Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras in publicly
condemning the use of contraceptives in response to the Zika outbreak, which
has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect in which babies are born with
abnormally small heads.

Instead, church officials have advocated for couples to
either abstain from sex or practice “natural family planning,” a method in
which a woman tracks her menstrual cycle to determine when she is most or least
fertile and plans sexual intercourse accordingly.

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