Abortion,  Bioethics,  Contraception,  Culture of Death,  pregnancy,  Pro Life

Zika, abortion, and contraceptive imperialism

You knew I was going to write about this, right?

I can’t help myself. My newsfeed is filling up with blustering outrage and hand wringing over the Zika virus – a heinous incurable disease with dire consequences for the most defenseless innocents – and the talking heads of the West are trotting out the same tired standard schtick about “protection” and “family planning services.”

To briefly summarize: there is a hideous mosquito-transmitted (and less frequently, sexually-transmitted) blood borne virus that has the potential to cause profound birth defects in babies who are exposed in utero. There is no known treatment or inoculation, and the recommendation for travelers abroad is to avoid conception for 30-120 (or more, sources vary) days after potential exposure.

The news for the unfortunate inhabitants of the infected lands is much more grim: 2 or 3 years of postponing baby making. A harrowing prognosis for couples and families, many of whom, unlike many of their wealthier global neighbors, take great joy in welcoming new life into their homes.

Many poverty stricken societies, in a posture which is startlingly alien to the affluent and individualistic West, are far more welcoming to and desirous of children. (And when their children – no less loved or valuable than our own – do fall ill? We throw condoms at them, more often than not, failing to address the dignity of the human person.)

A Facebook friend pointed out the hypocrisy of holding developing countries to higher standards than our own, suggesting that allowing them to use DDT, an insecticide problematic in it’s own right, but for sure a lesser of two evils, could go a long way towards eradicating the virus itself.

The problem is, we’ve become so inoculated by the drumbeat of the catastrophic (and deeply xenophobic) myth of overpopulation, the actual lives of the persons affected are often second or even third fiddle to the Very Important Goal of getting condoms in the hands of every poor indigenous savage who couldn’t possibly be capable of abstinence in the face of lethal risks. Or clandestinely spaying women in hospitals and field clinics without knowledge or consent when they are at their most vulnerable, giving birth.

If I sound angry, it’s because I am angry.

We treat our brothers and sisters in the hotter, poorer parts of the world like the animals we believe them to be, and increasingly like the animals we ourselves behave as. 

And when a gruesome virus builds to a pandemic level, we start moaning about the grim prognosis for those unfortunate, backwards countries without sufficient access to contraception and abortion.

Not about how to cure the virus. 

Not about how to stop the spread of the disease.

Not about how to kill off the particular species of mosquito transmitting it.

No, we jump straight to the real enemy: the deformed, microcephalic baby. And that must be avoided at all costs.

But if that were really true, surely the prevailing message would be a universal plea for abstinence and respect for the human body – particularly for the female body. Surely a couple wanting to avoid parenting a child with profound special needs in an impoverished environment would be advised to avoid sexual contact at all costs, lest the inevitable method failure or human error in contraceptive use result in conception.

But no. We can solve that little problem with abortion, can’t we?

Better to have dead babies in stricken wombs then living, suffering babies whose parents were not properly vetted on the risks the virus posed to their prospective progeny. 

I wish this story had a happier ending, but it doesn’t. Because at the end of the day, we’re exporting more than food and medicine to the developing world: we’re exporting an ideology. And our ideology here in the West is fundamentally rooted in the view of child-as-burden, and pregnancy as disaster.

Zika just allows us to draw clearer enemy lines.

St. Rose of Lima, Nossa Senhora Aparecida, Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

And Lord, have mercy.



    • Robert

      I read your article.

      Here are a few questions..

      1) In light of your article, what do you think about the Pope permitting contraception for people in danger of Zika?

      2) AIDS is far more deadly than Zika (which is not even deadly). Why did the Pope not promote contraception for African countries being devastated by AIDS?

      3) On a another note, why is the Pope saying that building a wall is “un-Christian”? Many of the cities of the Bible are walled. Jesus lived in a walled city. The Vatican itself is walled. Israel has staved off many tourist attacks via walled borders…

      Thank you in advance for your response.

  • Denise

    So funny, because I was just thinking YOU ARE AWESOME and went to comment and saw Michelle’s comment. So true. Love your spirit and openness to the miracle of life.

  • Patty

    Great post! Whenever I hear of this type of thing, it just blows my mind! Condoms don’t fix the situation. If I ever had a chance to talk with Melinda Gates… 😉

  • Becky

    Women cannot be “spayed.” Dogs are spayed. Animals are spayed. If you want to respect the dignity of all people–and I do believe that’s your sincere intent–please don’t refer to women who have been srerilized, either willingly or unwillingly, in a way that likens them to animals.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      Apologies for giving offense, Becky. It was meant to be hyperbolic to underscore the lack of respect/acknowledgement of women’s dignity in the third world. Women who are forcibly sterilized are treated as animals.

      • Becky

        I’m not offended, and that wasn’t the point I’m trying to make. Apologies for belaboring the point, but I actually think this is important in the context of evangelization. I know your intent isn’t to diminish women (or men) who are sterilized, but by using that language, you are making an implicit comparison to animals, i.e., dehumanizing them. However, I’ve seen you throw around this terminology on your blog before, and not in reference to people living in the third world. To take a more extreme example that’s not from your blog (but I think illustrates the point a bit better), I once saw a comment on an article about the Evils of Birth Control that likened women who use contraception to “holes” who are perpetually available to their husbands. That doesn’t strike me as the kind of rhetoric that’s going to Win Hearts and Minds and inspire women to chuck that last box of condoms, KWIM?

        Occasional infelicitous use of language hardly makes you a bad person; it makes you human. But just as we are more scandalized by sexual abuse in the Church because we hold the Church to a higher standard–we should hold ourselves to higher standards. If we are going to decry our opponents for dehumanizing people, we should strive not to do it ourselves, even in seemingly trivial ways.

        Apologies for the extended narrative–it apparently took a lot of words to more accurately convey what I meant (if in fact I’ve succeeded). 🙂

    • Susana Koffer

      After getting pregnant with IUD (kept the baby, although doctor insisted not to since it wasn’t planned anyway. And a healthy gorgeous baby we got now). After that we decided we would not use birth control anymore, because God was obviously trying to tell us something, the doctor still suggested sterilization and I felt like animal, exactly like of that dog. Most doctors and even very close relatives just can’t understand why should we torture ourselves having so many babies 🙁 this is a heartbreaking reality of the world.
      So I don’t think Jenny’s exaggerating or insulting someone, she’s just not being “politically correct” as Western society is used to be and that’s why this blog is a tiny light of our dark age.

    • se

      Rather than telling women not to get pregnant for 2 years, how about telling MEN to take the LEAD in this matter, as God intends for them to do, and control their sexual impulses for the good of future generations? Listen up, ladies! Do not let men off the hook once again! They need to be held accountable before God and men in this matter.

      • Jim and Emily

        Hello Se. It’s Jim replying first…. I couldn’t agree more that men need to be held accountable. Let me tell you a short story: When I was a 16-year-old teenager with raging hormones, we boys worried about the girl becoming pregnant. If it happened, we felt we had one of four choices; 1) A shotgun wedding/marriage; 2) Marry the girl; 3) Don’t marry the girl but support their child until he/she turned 21; 4) Run…. A couple of years later, a wonderful Woman named Emily, came into my life. By the Grace of God, we celebrated 48 years of Marriage last September 28th. Our four sons are planning our 50th Anniversary next year(2017). Today, there is little or no sense of morality among men(boys), or women(girls), and everything is relative. As I said at the beginning of this reply, I agree that men(boys) need to be held accountable. Hello Se. It’s Emily replying next. I agree with My Jim! However, what I see today, so many women(girls) are just as irresponsible. I keep hearing this same phrase: “Why are good men so hard to find?” If you women want to find a good man, “Do not go where the boys are”. We are Jim and Emily

  • AnitaNC

    This is a change of subject somewhat… My mother was given a tubal ligation – WITHOUT HER CONSENT – during her third C-section. This was in the 1970s and was perfectly permissible in the government run healthcare of the UK.

    Just want to throw that out there for anyone that thinks the government should run healthcare here…

    • Jean

      Anitanc, in the 70’s we were told “Once a c-section always a c-section and two is the limit”. No hope of a trial at VBAC. We who had natural births delivered through a window of sterile drapes, forbidden to touch them and if we did our wrists tied down. How time have changed. Your mother would not have even been asked for permission, her tubal ligation would have been performed “for her own good”, as if she would not have understood the risk of another pregnancy. Where I grew up, before universal healthcare, that “doctor knows best” attitude prevailed, so I don’t think it had as much to do with government run healthcare as it did with the mindset of the time, that being we women were imbeciles in a man’s world.

  • Martha

    I second the first commenter. Well done! So much of the poor in spirit from which we all could learn resides in those societies where they have not yet put secular materialism over God. We are so used to being validated in our selfish desires and attachments (including to intellectual elitism) which tell us we don’t need God–it’s very easy to see why we have so many non-believers in the West. I pray for all of these people that they may continue to seek God and seek to live the Gospels, and perhaps someday the West in its darkness will come to see the wisdom of God’s light shining through the “least of our brothers and sisters.”

  • Jean

    I’m sorry, Jenny, but I have to disagree with several of your statements. To begin with your last, I don’t think the west is exporting ideology so much as attempting an inadequate bandaid fix in the short term, namely birth control. Not that birth control has ever been 100% effective, but the reality is that the majority of couples will not remain abstinent for a period of 2 to 3 years. Not that they would choose to risk bringing harm to their unborn children, but the simple fact is that husbands and wives will turn to teach other for comfort in the most dire of situations.

    As an example I recall a conversation my mother and a friend were having when I was a little kid, her friend having survived starvation in the Netherlands during WW2. My mother asked why she and her husband had continued to have children during the war and the German occupation, and the turning to each other for comfort in the face of day to day threat of death was the answer. It happened over and over and still does.

    As for other cultures more welcoming of children, yes, that’s true, but having grown up in a culture where birth control was not considered an option, where babies were welcomed in growing a family, I also recall mothers crying for days knowing that another mouth to feed meant lowering the heat during the winter to save a little money, families where some of the kids were sent to live with other relatives because the mom & dad simply could not afford to keep them. I’m talking about Canada, not Latin America, not Africa. And why did the husbands and wives continue to procreate? Because rhythm didn’t work, or they couldn’t abide by it, but ultimately loving each other was pretty much all that they had left to give each other living in a shack of a home, no car, no tv, living hand to mouth paycheck to paycheck.

    As for trying to develop a vaccine, trying to eradicate the virus, all these things are in process, so yes, there are many concerned with more than just throwing condoms at the population please don’t trivialize the efforts of dedicated researchers. I also don’t agree that the microcephalic baby is being painted as the enemy, rather the horror of this virus’ damage is something we haven’t experienced since the thalidomide tragedy decades ago so there’s a lot of shock value when we see these tiny people afflicted by zika virus. These women face not just one pregnancy but theoretically successive pregnancies which could result in microcephalic babies. Just look at your own beautiful family and imagine what it would be like to walk in those women’s shoes?

    I feel you’re painting this very horrific situation in black and white and making NFP a moral high ground from a privileged vantage point while demonizing those who are offering what little they have to contribute, and I do agree that what they have to contribute, namely contraception and abortion is pathetically little help in the face of this unfolding disaster. While any of us in the west are not going to bed hungry, not having to give away our children in order that they might be clothed and housed, not faced with the heartbreak of bringing a microcephalic newborn into our family we don’t have the right to judge others’ actions through the filter of our own comfortable lifestyle.

    Lastly, the comment about spaying women – way off the mark. I get what you were attempting, but it was unnecessarily crude.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      I certainly appreciate that I am writing from a position of privilege, and I don’t want to downplay that. I’m sorry if that was not adequately conveyed. And nowhere did I trivialize the work being done by scientists and medical researchers seeking a vaccine. What I’m seeing in my newsfeed and across all my social media accounts, however, here in white, privileged America, is piece after piece after nauseating piece bemoaning the “backwards practices” and “anti-woman policies” of the countries under siege by this plague: namely, the inaccessibility of “safe, legal abortion.” That was the heart of this post. That abortion can never be – and never is – the solution to any of the myriad evils life on this earth can dish up.

      As far as couples continuing to procreate under heroic difficulties, you’re right. You’re absolutely right. There are couples who can and do feel called to continue welcoming children even when faced with war, poverty, disease, and starvation. And even for those of us who suffer lesser hardships, there are few women on this earth who can confess to never crying over a positive pregnancy test. Even the privileged ones who have little reason to materially fear another mouth to feed.

      But can contraception and it’s inevitable sibling, abortion, ever be the solution for any of these mother’s problems? And can the first world possibly understand the complexities and the sufferings of the third world when the first (and often only) solution we offer them is a packet of material aid tied to contraceptive use and, yes, forced sterilization. Like we do to animals.

      I’m not sure how anyone could disagree that the west is importing ideology, straight up colonial style, when the biggest players in the NGO game – Soros Foundation, Gates Foundation, etc. – tie their aid to compulsory adherence to “family planning services,” and hardly a mention of the developing world can be made without a chorus of complaints rising up about the lack of access to abortion and contraception. Maybe we’re reading different news sources?

      I found this piece immensely helpful in trying to emphasize with the situation of women in the developing world: https://www.wcl.american.edu/hrbrief/v2i1/alhibr21.htm

      • Jenny Uebbing

        And Jean, I value your contributions to the discussions here, and I do sincerely apologize for having offended you with the crude wording. I also want to stress that my anger here is over the mistreatment of these people, and for their dignity being violated and their suffering being trivialized. It is certainly not my intent to further trivialize it by saying “oh, just use NFP, you’ll be fine!” But I am reaching to find any other acceptable solution in a situation like this than prolonged, and yes, painful abstinence. If the virus makes its way into our hemisphere, I’d say no different. How could the risk be justified?

        • Jean

          I’ve been following the news stories ever since they began and I have yet to see one where either birth control or abortion were offered as solutions. I don’t watch American tv so we may well be hearing different approaches. I’m not sure about this, but didn’t the Vatican come out with permission for people with known HIV/AIDS to use condoms in Africa? This would have been a couple of years ago. Do you think in this case there might be a similar dispensation given the increasing spread of zika virus? Again, not that artificial contraception is ever 100% effective. Sadly, I do believe the virus will move into our hemisphere, though we’ve been told the mosquitoes cannot survive a Canadian winter. Canadian Blood Services is currently suspending donations from anyone who has traveled to the affected regions. As for searching for a solution, I think we’d all better get down on our knees and storm heaven with our prayers for those affected.

          • Clare Krishan

            Jean I watch BBC news online and they interviewed a female professor in tropical medicine who seemed reasonable in her measured rational tone on how we need to know more about the virus and its role in microcephaly before we can say what means of remedy ought be pursued, but…

            she expanded on that line of thought thusly ( I paraphrase): f or example we need to know is it 90% or 10% of Zika infections that lead to deformity… for women’s choice, to make informed decisions’ in case you didn’t know “women’s choice” is code for abortion, and she obviously inferred that under her ethics she could condone a link between infection and ‘culling’ (to use another animal husbandry-eugenicisit turn of phrase) when deformity at birth was certain (90%) but not if it was as uncertain as 10%.


      • Jim and Emily

        Anita; I understand completely what you said with regard to your mother’s tubal ligation, or, if I might say, her sterilization. Oliver Wendell Holmes, the “Progressive hero” and social Darwinist, bought into Francis Galton’s bogus eugenics theory, and wrote the 1927 Supreme Court Opinion in the Buck vs Bell decision, legalizing sterilization without consent of both men and women. The same thing happened to our sister after her 2nd child was born. She was never told of the salpingectomy performed on her in Iowa in the 1970’s. After years of trying to have another child, she discovered why she couldn’t conceive. EUGENICS IS STILL ALIVE AND WELL in England, America, and many other 1st world countries, mainly under the guise of abortion, the falsehood fantasy of over-population, etc! Whomever does not believe this, well, they need a good education!! We are, Jim and Emily……

      • Martha

        I concur with Jenny, particularly about the export of ideology. Those foundations absolutely engage in ideological export in the area of “population control,” as well as other areas of policy around reproduction, families, etc. For example, look at the Wikipedia pages of the founders of Population Services International, one of the largest global health “non profits” that is in this business. Their one founder also operated in the world of sex toys; the other began his work in “family planning” after working in Africa and deciding that “I began to realise that preventing a birth could be as important as saving a life.”

        This is absolutely about a pro-choice, limiting family size agenda. Frankly, I think it’s made to appear as a practical or “life saving” matter in order to sell it to the public; similar to how Nestle got in a lot of legal trouble for its operations with formula feeding in third world countries. This isn’t a diss to doctors or clinicians who want to prevent or find results to a disease; rarely are those individuals on the ground the problem. More so, it’s a question of who is paying for and actually running the show in these organizations, and what is their intent/agenda. For all of those mentioned herein, including those mentioned above by Jenny, they absolutely have a family planning, pro-birth control, pro-abortion stance. It’s not really something they hide, either, so a bit of research about the organizations and their leadership will reveal it.

        Finally, there are a lot of questions about Zika (a) having anything to do with microcephaly and (b) other “stuff in the water” so to speak, such as what big companies (agribusiness, big pharma) will use third world areas to “test” their products before they release/use them in the U.S. and other parts of the privileged West. Another commenter mentioned the GMO issue, and in late 2014, Brazil mandated all pregnant women there to receive a Tdap shot (which may have been a different dosage than the one “recommended” here in the U.S.), particularly in the exact part of the country that is ground zero for these microcephalic babies and the Zika “issue.” Jumping to suggest or even force people not to have babies in the next 2-3 years without ANY research to show causation between the supposed Zika virus and the microcephalic births is absurd; and it suggests that these organizations and governments consider the lives of those babies with microcephaly to be unworthy.

  • Rebecca M

    Hi Jenny,
    I thoroughly enjoy your blog-your sarcasm, writing style- perfect! After this piece I felt a little as though it was coming from the pure fire and emotion that we Catholic women/mothers often feel on subjects that we are passionate about (i.e. the sanctity of life) but without the much also needed counterbalance from the rational side that also exists once our emotions have cooled. I found myself unsure of what point you were trying to make until I read more of your thoughts in the comments. Also, I understand where you were coming from in saying how the American ideology about children is that they are a burden, ugh how I hate when this is the attitude friends with children take, but I also agree that children are burdens. Paradoxically they are wanted burdens (at least to us) and the joy they bring far outweighs the hardships that naturally come along in rearing them, but they are still burdens. One of the other Catholic bloggers I enjoy reading puts it this way. (On the topic of children who resist helping with chores) “But our kids should also understand that I don’t cook them dinner because it’s the thing I’d most like to be doing at that moment, and Daddy doesn’t drive off to work each morning because it’s his favorite place to be. I want my kids to understand that we do those things as a result of a conscious decision to love God and the people around us by our actions, not just our words or our feelings. I want my kids to understand that they are a burden, but one for which I am grateful. We are all made better by doing things for others even when we don’t feel like it. Especially when we don’t feel like it.” (Catholic all year, Kendra Tierney). I’m not sure if any of my two cents there made sense (ha! no pun intended), but I felt compelled to chime in. God bless you, your growing family, and the work that you do to explain, evangelize, and inform the masses on the beauty of the Catholic faith!

    • Clare Krishan

      and Jenny, be careful re: DDT as remedy. It too is teratogenic (causes genetic mutationsin utereo) AND carcinogenic. Indeed perhaps Zika is no the agent causing the harm, but the bacteria in the guts of the dead mosquitos in the water supply thus treated, other microbes that breed well under such extreme conditions (see earlier post on genetically-modified mosquitos, on which no studies were performed before mass release) ?

      A HUGE embarrassment for us in affluenza-land must be: our encouragement of profligate expenditures by local elites on OLYMPIC venues (and WYD altars etc) in a country where many poor citizens are conceived in homes without fresh running running water… ie nothing hi-tech just simple hygenic plumbing that most of us take for granted. It is we who need to pray for mercy on our souls, that we have the means but choose to squander them…

      • Jenny Uebbing

        Clare, I can’t agree more. It’s an astonishing human rights violation, truly, to be pouring money into essentially disposable venues and ignoring the slums and shantytowns 2 miles away from the stadium or event sites. And that’s a fascinating point about the bacteria, I really want to read more about that. And of course you’re right about DDT too, definitely would be a weighing of one evil vs. another possibly greater evil.

        • Sheila

          It’s funny the way some Americans seem to think that “we” (who exactly?) are stopping Third World nations from using DDT. Sure, it’s illegal here, but it’s not illegal there. The reason those nations don’t use it is because mosquitoes have developed a resistance to it. There are newer pesticides which work better — and which ARE being used. DDT is not a magic cure for anything.

    • Jenny Uebbing

      You’re right, I wrote this one in a hot temper, for sure. I’ll try to follow up with another piece in a day or two when I’m cooler and more rational and tease out some of the follow up points discussed in the comments. Thank you for reading, and for your kind words and prayers!

  • Ann Bryson

    My question is: How many of the mothers who’ve had babies born with the “Zika” birth defect/s had vaccines given to them from the Bill Gates Foundation through his Alliance to Advance Innovation in Global Health. He is partnering with Brazil’s Ministry of Health since 2012.

  • Michael

    What do you mean ideology?
    This is no different than the 80’s and 90’s when HIV/AIDS was ravaging the gay community and everyone proclaimed that gays should stop sodomizing each other for 2-3 years.
    Oh, wait, that never happened…

  • Cat

    Jenny, I live in one of those poor tropical countries where Zika has just exploded on the scene. It’s interesting for me to hear your views. I’ve actually been surprised at how much international coverage Zika has been receiving, and I feel like the reason it is receiving the coverage is because of the threat to unborn children, specifically the threat to US citizen’s unborn children, as the virus is spreading rapidly North. If it has stayed in the tropics, I don’t think anyone (in the developed world) would have cared. According to the WHO, Malaria kills 1/2 a million people a year. Chikungunya (which is new to this part of the world in the last 2 years) and Dengue make many, many people severely ill, and all 3 of these are carried by the same mosquito that carries Zika. Yet have you heard any news reports about those diseases recently? Any talk of vaccines being developed? To me, advising women not to get pregnant for a few years is just the government’s way of CYA (in medical speak…. cover your a** 🙂 That way when babies are born with microcephaly, they will just blame the irresponsible women and say there is nothing they can do to help, when they never had the resources or intent to help anyways. Developed countries pouring millions of dollars into the country to be spent on condoms, women given long term birth control methods without understanding it, women sterilized without consent after c-sections…. that is NOTHING new. The west’s contraception mentality has been here for a long, long time. Hopefully the threat by Zika to developed nations will result in a vaccine or better treatment, because that is the only way those of us living in undeveloped countries will see any help. And hopefully, (but not very likely), some off the attention being given to these poorest of the poor will open eyes and hearts to the reality of life that people live outside the US.

  • Marcos

    Facts: brazilian society is as promiscuous as it could be. Brazilian church is quite modernist and filled to the brim with the liberal liberation theology. The only articulate conservative power in the country are the pentecostals. Brazilians today already have less kids per family than Americans. The country has poor areas in the north but the south is quite rich. Plenty of money to deal with an epidemics. Plenty of condoms and abortion clinics and liberal ideology of our own. No need to import money or ideology. There is really nothing you can do for us brazilians besides what we, the few conservative catholics remaining here, already do. Pray. Just pray. Everyday. And again. Nossa Senhora da Imaculada Conceição Aparecida, ora pro nobis.

  • Ann Bryson

    More food for thought.
    Bill Gates is a huge investor in Monsanto. His is a proponent of GMO’s. (says we need it to feed the starving children)

    Would you like a little birth control/abortifacient in your corn my dear.

    • Professor

      If you are suggesting that GMO food could be engineered to lower fertility in human females…not yet. That degree of sophistication requires multiple facets. First knowing what makes a female (or a male, I guess that would work too) infertile. Then figuring out a means to have the plant generate that bioproduct. So Im not saying no, but based on where we are with genetic engineering right now…not yet. I think pollution and contamination pose a vastly greater threat to fertility right now. But the more we know, the more it will be used against us to push someones agenda…

  • Rebekah

    This Zika story has really been in my mind. What must it be like to be pregnant and worried about every mosquito bite, wondering if you’ve already had the virus, or will get it, and if your child will suffer because of it? It seems like you might have some connections through your work to different charities or relief efforts…do you know of any ways we can help? I’ve done cursory research into ways to assist moms facing this threat to their babies, but it seems like the info is so new and the aid infrastructure is not yet in place. If you have any leads or ideas please share!

  • Rae

    Fear is powerful. We all need to take a deep breath.

    First of all, the Zika virus was reported to have caused a little over 4,000 cases of microcephaly, or about 1 in 1000 births in Brazil. It turns out that the Brazilian government asked the doctors to report all cases of infants with a head circumference under 33 cm. The Washington Post quoted one specialist as saying that the number of cases would most likely drop by 1/3.

    Does it make any sense that a government would advise a whole country of women to not become pregnant due to a 3 in 10,000 chance of having a baby with microcephaly?

    Granted, there are areas that are harder hit than others. It is uncertain what will happen in the future. There are some concerns that babies with normal head sizes may have delays, too. But there my hunch is that we’re finding things simply because we’re looking for them. And if we have correctly identified the problem, presumably we can take precautionary steps.

    There is also the fact that this seems to be a transitory problem – right now there is no immunity to the virus among women of child bearing age. That won’t be the case in a few years.

    (I’m not saying that Zika is not a public health concern, or that we shouldn’t devote time and resources to helping. I am questioning whether we have the right to make decisions for women, and how we convey potential risk.)

    If we truly support women’s rights, where is the backlash against directing women to not have children? Even in our contraceptive culture, shouldn’t such a statement sound paternalistic and over-bearing?

    It is interesting that ‘reproductive rights’ really means the right to not reproduce as in this quote from NPR. “Reproductive rights activists are outraged that the Salvadoran government would make this recommendation in country where women have no legal options to terminate a pregnancy if they are concerned about birth defects.”

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