Last week Pope Francis implied at a press conference that it would not be an “absolute evil” if women at risk of being infected with the Zika virus used contraception to avoid having babies with a serious, brain-damaging birth defect called microcephaly.
Francis’ comments were more nuanced, and less permissive, than many early reports made it seem. But they suffer from another problem: If it’s OK for women to use birth control to prevent birth defects, why isn’t it OK to use contraception in family planning? Because the scientific evidence suggests, strongly, that contraception saves the lives of hundreds of thousands of women every year. There’s also good evidence contraception reduces the risk of death for infants and children, and improves their lives.
That’s not counting the vast toll that the Catholic Church’s opposition to contraception has taken by slowing the use of condoms as a means for preventing thetransmission of HIV and other diseases–just the benefits of giving women control over when and how often they give birth