Zika virus and contraception


Several governments in South America are recommending that women avoid pregnancy, due to the spread of the Zika virus, which can cause severe birth defects when a pregnant woman is infected. Here’s the news report.

The problem is that a large percentage of the population is Roman Catholic, and of course contraception is against Catholic teaching. They could avoid pregnancy by abstaining from sex or by using NFP (strictly). But many Catholics do not follow Church teaching on contraception. So this recommendation (to avoid pregnancy) implicitly suggests the use of contraception to Catholics.

It is a difficult issue for the Church. But since contraception is intrinsically evil, it cannot be justified by the good intention to avoid harm to the prenatal, nor by the difficult circumstance of the spread of this virus.


The use of contraception and abortion will spike in these areas and Catholics will be part of that spike.


I may be accused of heresy for this idea, but it is one I truly believe.

It is parents responsibility to care about the well-being of their children. If there is a high risk of a child being permanently damaged by the Zika virus, than they are under a duty to try and not procreate until this thing is reasonably under control. A duty of care so to speak.

And whether that end is accomplished by abstinence or contraceptive sex, I think either one is fine personally, as long as the end is achievd.blush: I am not speaking for the church at all, but I really can’t blame don’t think ill of couples who use contraceptive sex in this situation. I just don’t believe its wrong.

It’s really not my business to think about it anyway…:blush:


Commentators have already noted that in many countries where Zika is spreading, many young women will not have the choice of abstinence - they will simply not be in the kind of relationships where that would be “allowed”. The majority of pregnancies in this world are not planned in any way.

If a couple has an equal-partner marriage and can sit down and make a conscious choice to abstain, then that’s fine. But I agree with the comments I’ve read that many, many women will not be in that position.


How disturbing!:eek::frowning:


Well, I think it’s a realistic description of the situation, sadly. Millions of women in this world live as subordinates to men and lack education and money.


Yes indeed! What a scary virus this is and from what I’ve read in the last several days, we are at least a year away from the development of protocols to stop the virus in the mosquitos. I cannot imagine that any woman would want to risk having a child that would be sick or have the worst, most horrendous defect such as being born with only a brain stem. Sometimes modern medicine is an awesome gift. In this case, women should feel free to use reliable contraception without others trying to judge their actions. My daughter and her boyfriend are attending a wedding in Cancun next month. He is busily researching the best mosquito repellent. Luckily, dear daughter has the Merina device implanted because of Stage 4 Endometriosis so she is not worried about becoming pregnant. I’m praying that the USDA and other organizations, worldwide, work together to quickly find an answer to this awful virus.


Women should not feel free to contracept. How can you say that as a Catholic?


What’s disturbing is that any posters seem to think, in spite of clear and unequivocal doctrinal teaching on this topic, that there are still some (any) circumstances in which ABC for the purpose of preventing pregnancy is permissible.

There aren’t. Period. Full Stop. End of Story.

If you disagree, you need to work on better forming your conscience.

However, with respect to the OP, I think there is a pretty big leap being made to imply that the bishops are somehow supporting the use of ABC. A really big leap. A super humoungous leap.


Thank you, Deacon, for your clarity.

Have clergy ever discussed about what to do in situations such as what is being described here, where there is serious reason to avoid pregnancy, yet males in the culture refuse to accept abstinence?

I find this incredibly sad and I wonder what sort of pastoral counsel will be given to a woman in such a situation, and what outreach there might be at the level of the parish or diocese.

Thank you for your time.


I’d also like to know what practical assistance is going to be offered to help care for all these “blessings” who will be born microcephalic.


No, not the bishops. The **governments **of those nations are implying that women should use contraception.


Oh Ok. Sorry, I misunderstood.


This is a major public health issue whose effects are devastating to infants. United Airlines is giving full refunds for those afraid of traveling to South America and the Caribbean which is a huge indicator concerning this killer virus. Women must decide themselves and with their partners what protection they will use, or if they will use protection at all. I would think that this situation would be hard even for traditionalists.:shrug:


Both excellent questions and they deserve answers. First let me say generally that the attitude that we somehow need to allow women to use ABC to prevent pregnancy in these circumstances (not saying either of you are saying that - just addressing the point generally) seems to me to be defeatist. It seems to be come from an attitude of despair, which some would say is the only unforgivable sin. To try to articulate the position, if I may; "the culture is such that men use women at chattel, dominate women and frankly speaking, rape them to satisfy their baser urges without regard to the consequences of such conduct for the woman and any potential offspring. Accordingly, we must be practical and 1. allow women to protect themselves from these savages and 2. make accommodations to prevent the unplanned births of deformed children (horrors!!!).

I think, however, that this attitude neglects the primary mission of Church, which is to change culture, not accommodate it. It also neglects the call to hope that each of us must embrace as part of the Body of Christ.

Now, to the specific questions.

  1. I have not been part of any discussions among clergy about what to do in these situations. However, I strongly suspect discussions are taking place. This virus is a relatively new dilemma but these circumstance are somewhat analogous to the AIDS issue that arose several years ago with respect to allowing women to use ABC to protect themselves from infection. I suspect (with no specific knowledge) that the Church’s response here is likely to be similar.

  2. In terms of pastoral counsel, I believe it should not be limited to the woman, but should focus on the men in particular. Actions have consequences and to the extent a man is going to engage conduct, he should be counseled with respect to the consequences that flow from that conduct and the obligations that it gives rise to. Remember, the Church’s role is not primarily to relieve suffering but to change minds and hearts (culture).

  3. With respect to “practical assistance” to care for these -as you put it “blessings”- I am sure the Church will continue to offer medical care to those who need it as well as caring for the day to day needs of those who cannot care for themselves, as it has throughout its history. But I think I detect a bit of snarkiness in your questions, and let me say that as Catholics we are unique in that we are able to find a place for suffering within our spirituality, and often suffering brings us closer to God. The idea that we should make accommodations, even up to the point of looking the way or going so far as condoning behavior that constitutes grave matter and jeopardizes the very souls of those that have been entrusted to us, in order to avoid earthly suffering is antithetical to Catholic teaching. However I would like to point out that the incidence of microcephaly among those women in countries with a high incidence of Zika infections, although certainly troubling, is certainly not on the level that we should consider stopping all pregnancies until it is controlled. It is roughly 5.5 cases per 100,000 births.

Check that against the incidents of other types of birth defects in the United States: cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/data.html


I would think this issue would be easy for any orthodox (i.e. faithful) Catholic. “Traditionalism” is irrelevant.

See my post above.


I am not a Catholic who is strong in my faith really, and I would love a “True Catholic” to answer my stance on this/ correct me.

This seems like a no-brainer to me. I get that the Church teaches that contraceptive sex is a sin, but it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me.

Couples should do what they can to prevent conception in this circumstance including in my mind by using condoms etc, so they don’t end up conceiving a child and having it’s life be wrecked b Zika. Not to take such precautions seems a bit selfish to me.

Part of me almost things the Salvadorian govenrment should carpet the country in aerially dropped condoms:rolleyes:

Please tell me why I am wrong, from a Catholic standpoint, and from a moral standpoint.


ABC for the purpose of preventing pregnancy is in ALL circumstances gravelly immoral. As for the “why” I suggest you take a survey of the concept of “natural law”. See also my response in post number 15.


As I suspected


For the Church, the worst aspect of birth control pills is that many of them aren’t true contraceptives; they don’t prevent the sperm and egg from conceiving. Instead, they work as an *abortifacient, *causing the uterus to eject potentially fertilized eggs. Because Catholicism holds that life begins at conception, any fertilized egg is an embryo and a human person.
The Church also says that artificial contraception is morally wrong, because each and every sex act can occur only between husband and wife and must be directed toward two ends: love and life, that is, the intimate unity between the man and woman (love) and possibly procreating another human being (life). Conception and pregnancy don’t have to occur each time, but no man-made barriers should prevent what God may intend to happen.
When love and life — unity and procreation — are separated, then sex becomes an end in itself rather than a means to an end. Birth control makes sex recreational, and removing what may be perceived as the “danger” of pregnancy means that couples no longer need to communicate about when and when not to have sex and whether they want or can afford another child. Discussions on this topic can actually strengthen the marriage.

More: dummies.com/how-to/content/the-catholic-church-and-contraception.html

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.