To the Shock of No One, Catholic Church Says Contraception Still Banned Amid Zika Outbreak

A Catholic cardinal waving incense.
A Catholic cardinal waving incense. Photo: Adreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

While the Zika virus continues to spread through Latin America and doctors investigate the link between the infection and a birth defect known as microcephaly, some countries have advised that women put off getting pregnant for the time being. It can be hard enough to get some of the most effective types of birth control in places like El Salvador, and now some women might end up feeling shamed by the Catholic Church for wanting to prevent pregnancy.

Church representatives in Brazil, the country that’s been hit hardest with the virus, recently reiterated that the group’s long-standing position on abortion and the use of contraception has not changed. The secretary general of the National Council of Bishops of Brazil said in an interview, “Contraceptives are not a solution. There is not a single change in the church’s position.” He suggested practicing abstinence or natural family planning, a.k.a. the rhythm method. The Vatican has not spoken on the matter.

These views don’t seem to mirror those of modern Catholics in the region, whose numbers have been on the decline. More than 90 percent of Latin American Catholics supported the use of birth control in a 2014 Univision poll, and no doubt many of them are face-palming after this news.

Contraception Still Banned, Says Catholic Church