Pope suggests women who are threatened by Zika virus could use artificial contraception

Posted at 2:54 PM, Feb 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 14:55:02-05

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) — Pope Francis has suggested that women threatened with the Zika virus could use artificial contraception but not abort their fetus, saying there’s a clear moral difference between aborting a fetus and preventing a pregnancy.

Francis was asked Wednesday en route home from Mexico if abortion or birth control could be considered a “lesser evil,” when faced with the Zika-linked cases of rare birth defects such those faced in Brazil, where babies have been born with abnormally small heads.

The explosion of Zika cases has prompted some governments in Latin America to urge women to avoid getting pregnant and has fueled calls from abortion rights groups to loosen the strict anti-abortion laws in the overwhelmingly Catholic region.

Francis excluded abortion absolutely from the debate.