People Are Outraged at Pope Francis Over His Zika Virus Comments

February 18th 2016

Kyle Jaeger

Pope Francis' comments on birth control were met with mixture of anger and applause on Thursday after he said that women could use contraceptives to avoid becoming pregnant with fetuses infected with the Zika virus, which is apparently linked to birth defects.


While the Catholic church has traditionally opposed birth control, the pope suggested that the use of contraceptives was permissible in certain circumstances, especially as health officials warn that pregnant women exposed to Zika virus risk having children born with microcephaly, a rare condition that affects the size of newborns' heads and brains.


The pope was asked whether birth control represented the "lesser of two evils," in contrast to the prospect of women aborting fetuses infected with the incurable virus, CNN reported. He emphasized that the church regarded abortion an "absolute evil" and "crime," but also said that "avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil."

The pope's comment comes at a time when public health officials are advising women to avoid getting pregnant in countries where the Zika virus has spread. (More than 20 countries, including the U.S., have seen Zika outbreaks in recent months).

However, not everyone embraced the pope's remarks. Conservatives on Twitter called the pope a "hypocrite" for hinting that he might support birth control under special circumstances.

Liberal commenters, though, noted that the pope is still far from embracing a woman's right to choose.

ATTN: recently reported on how certain recommendations from public health agencies have bordered on sexist, including a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that advised women of childbearing age to use condoms or abstain from sex entirely if they lived in countries impacted by the Zika virus. The idea that the onus of Zika transmission prevention should fall exclusively on women has also been a subject of controversy.