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Catholic Leaders Not For Abortion In Face Of Zika

Update Date: Feb 15, 2016 02:06 AM EST

Zika virus outbreak has reignited debate on contraception and abortion, prohibited in many countries where the disease is a cause of alarm.

Abortion among Catholic religious heads is viewed as killing life of an innocent and hence morally unacceptable. While some countries allow abortion when the mother's life has to be saved, in other countries it is illegal. Access to contraception is also limited, as the Catholic Church opposes all methods of contraception including withdrawal.

More than a year after epidemic and a few countries asking women to delay pregnancy, religious leaders in South and Central American countries have started speaking out about therapeutic abortion. They argue that a couple should abstain from sex when the woman is fertile, according to The New York Times.

The leaders have also called for greater support for couples delivering children with microcephaly, a congenital condition that causes babies to be born with small heads. The Zika virus is strongly associated with the condition. Cadinal Odilo P. Scherer, Archbishop of Sao Paulo said efforts to fight the virus should be aimed at curbing the spread of the vector and not to legalize abortion. He stated that the act was contrary to mercy.

The debate comes during a significant time for the Vatican which is overseeing the visit of Pope Francis to Mexico. It is however not known if he will speak about Zika during his visit, which is scheduled to end on Thursday.

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