The Zika Virus and the Abortion Contagion

Gleyse Kelly da Silva poses for a photo Jan. 25 with her daughter Maria Giovanna, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil. (CNS photo/Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters)

Gleyse Kelly da Silva poses for a photo Jan. 25 with her daughter Maria Giovanna, who has microcephaly, in Recife, Brazil. (CNS photo/Ueslei Marcelino, Reuters)

An unfortunate side-effect of the Zika virus epidemic has been the eagerness of abortion advocates to spread their pro-abortion contagion to Latin American countries trying to address this public health crisis in a constructive manner.

As Pope Francis made clear during his February 18 flight back to Rome from his pastoral visit to Mexico, “Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime. . . . It is human evil, as any act of killing is.”

Some have linked the mosquito-borne Zika virus in Brazil and other Latin American countries to a growing number of cases of babies born with microcephaly, a rare neurological condition that causes smaller heads in newborns and can affect normal brain development.  In recent months, some have also linked it to cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare condition that causes sudden paralysis in adults. On February 1, the World Health Organization designated the Zika virus and its suspected complications as an international public health emergency.

The Zika virus has been known for decades in different parts of the world and usually has produced mild and brief symptoms like rashes, fever and joint pain. Much is not known about the virus, and scientists have not linked it definitively with microcephaly or paralysis. The Washington Post reports that none of the 2,100 pregnant women confirmed to have the Zika virus in Colombia had given birth to a baby with microcephaly. And Tech Times has reported that some Argentine physicians believe that the outbreaks may have actually been caused by a toxic material injected into Brazil’s water supplies in 2014 to reduce mosquito larvae in drinking water tanks.

Congressman Chris Smith, who chaired a February 10 hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s global health subcommittee, noted, “We must work harder to prevent maternal infections and devise compassionate ways to ensure that any child born with disabilities from this or any other infection is welcomed, loved and gets the care he or she needs.”

A similar expression of respect for mothers and children was offered in a February 16 statement by Archbishop Bernardito Auza Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations, who expressed alarm that some government officials in Latin American countries, and the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, had advocated easing abortion restrictions in those countries as a response to the threat of the Zika virus epidemic.

“It must be emphasized that a diagnosis of microcephaly in a child should not warrant a death sentence,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza said, noting that a Brazilian journalist born with microcephaly, Ana Carolina Cáceres, has spoken out against the fear and misunderstanding about people with that condition, and that those with the condition can live productive lives. “Regardless of the connection to the Zika virus,” he said, “it is a fact of human existence that some children develop conditions like microcephaly, and that these children deserve to be protected and cared for throughout their lives, in accordance with our obligation to safeguard all human life, healthy and disabled, with equal commitment, leaving no one behind.”

Also speaking against abortion as a solution to any possible health risks to unborn children from the Zika virus, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, said, “Abortion doesn’t cure anything, it takes innocent lives away.”

Predictably, the pro-abortion group that calls itself “Catholics for Choice” has seized on the health crisis to promote abortion, with the group’s president John O’Brien saying “abortion, like contraception, is part of the continuum of women’s health care.” This equivalency of abortion as “health care” reveals the group’s devaluation of human life.

On the flight from Mexico, Pope Francis drew a distinct moral difference between abortion and contraception, saying avoiding pregnancy is “not an absolute evil,” and urged that doctors “do their utmost” to develop vaccines against the Zika virus.

In his encyclical on ecology, Laudato Sí’ (“On Care for Our Common Home”), our Holy Father underscored how all of us on Earth are interconnected, and how we must improve opportunities for the poor, who are disproportionately affected by illnesses and epidemics. This is the real answer to problems like this disease and its possible effect. The spread of the Zika virus should be a clarion call, not only for developing a vaccine that might prevent illnesses associated with it and for safe measures to eradicate breeding grounds for the mosquitos that carry it, but also for a global effort at providing safe drinking water and proper medical care for all the world’s people.

A recent photograph in the secular press showed a young Brazilian mother, Pamela De Araujo, smiling and lovingly cradling in her arms, her 8-week-old daughter Catarina, who has microcephaly, while three other adult family members and a young girl tenderly looked on.

Rather than resorting to the solution promoted by abortion advocates, we as people of faith must in the face of the Zika virus and its possible health risks, seek to build what Saint John Paul II called “a civilization of life and love.” That can be our spiritual vaccine against the culture of death that some seek to expand in our nation and world.