Zika Virus: Can Artificial Contraception Be Condoned?

Internet Journal of Infectious Diseases 15 (1) (2016)
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As the Zika virus pandemic continues to bring worry and fear to health officials and medical scientists, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have recommended that residents of the Zika-infected countries, e.g., Brazil, and those who have traveled to the area should delay having babies which may involve artificial contraceptive, particularly condom. This preventive policy, however, is seemingly at odds with the Roman Catholic Church’s position on the contraceptive. As least since the promulgation of Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, the Church has explicitly condemned artificial birth control as intrinsic evil. However, the current pontiff, Pope Francis, during his recent visit to Latin America, remarked that the use of artificial contraception may not be in contradiction to the teaching of Humanae Vitae while drawing a parallel between the current Zika Crisis and the 1960’s Belgian Congo Nun Controversy. The pope mentioned that the traditional ethical principle of the lesser of two evils may be the doctrine that justified the exceptions. The authors of this paper attempt to expand the theological rationale of the pope’s suggestion. In so doing, the authors rely on casuistical reasoning as an analytic tool that compares the Belgian Congo Nun case and the given Zika case, and suggest that the former is highly similar to, if not the same as, the latter in terms of normative moral feature. That is, in both cases the use of artificial contraception is theologically justified in reference to the criteria that the doctrine of the lesser of two evils requires. The authors wish that the paper would provide a solid theological-ethical ground based on which condom-use as the most immediate and effective preventive measure can be recommended in numerous Catholic hospitals as well as among Catholic communities in the world, particularly the most Zika-affected and largest Catholic community in the world, Brazil – 123 million present Brazilian citizens are reported to be Roman Catholic.

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