Patti Armstrong is an award-winning author and was the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. She has a B.A. in social work and an M.A. in public administration and worked in both those fields before staying home to work as a freelance writer. Patti and her husband live in North Dakota, where they are still raising the tail end of their 10 children.
The moment the media began reporting on the Zika virus in Brazil, a mosquito-caused illness blamed on an outbreak in microcephaly in unborn babies, everyone knew where it was headed. Abortion.
But while the pro-life and pro-death sides debate, there is a new wrinkle. It could be that the usually mild Zika virus is not to blame at all. The microcephaly outbreak may have only coincidentally coincided with the spread of the Zika virus. According to Tech Times, a group of Argentine physicians suspects that the blame lies with a toxic larvicide injected into Brazil's water supplies in 2014.
The chemical pyriproxyfen causes malformations in mosquitoes. It was put into Brazil's water supplies to stop the development of mosquito larvae in the drinking water tanks to reduce the mosquitos. Could it also cause malformation in the unborn? Suspicion is strong.
The Brazilian Health Ministry injected the chemical into reservoirs in the state of Pernambuco where the mosquito population was high. That state now has 35 percent of the microcephaly cases. “The group of Argentine doctors points out that during past Zika epidemics, there have not been any cases of microcephaly linked with the virus,” Tech Times reported. The group reported that in countries such as Colombia where there are plenty of Zika cases, there are no records of microcephaly linked to Zika. In fact, the Columbian president announced that although many people there were infected with Zika, there has not been a single case of microcephaly.
Pyriproxyfen is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a company associated with Monsanto. On its website, Sumitomo Chemical says pyriproxyfen poses minimal risk to birds, fish and mammals. Still, the local government of Grande do Sul in the southern portion of Brazil has stopped suspended the use of the chemical.
Abortion Activists Find a Foothold
Regardless of what is causing the spike in microcephaly, Abortion advocates have charged in, hoping to break the prolife forces that have thus far refused them entry into Latin America. In Brazil, women can face three years in jail if convicted of having had and abortion. Exceptions apply in cases of rape; where the pregnancy poses a risk to the mother’s life; or, under a 2012 ruling, if a fetus has anencephaly, in which a major part of the brain and skull is missing. Abortion activists blame two powerful forces as having foiled them thus far. The Catholic Church and the United States.
It seems ironic to blame the United States for the Latin America’s prolife government, since abortion is legal here. But over forty years ago, Congress enacted the Helms amendment to restrict U.S. foreign aid from going toward abortion. It went into effect in 1973 and prohibits foreign assistance from paying for the “performance of abortion as a method of family planning” or to “motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.” Abortion forces resent that the United States is not doing more for their cause by funding agencies that would push for the right to abortion in pro-life countries.
Blaming the Catholic Church for Brazils prolife stance is more obvious. Brazil is 65 percent Catholic. The Church’s unmovable prolife stance and teachings against contraception is reflected in the population. Seventy-nine percent of the Brazilians are against legalizing abortion according to a 2014 Ibope Institute poll.
Catholic teaching on abortion will never change. Nor will the Church back down on contraception as an intrinsic evil that has taken a toll on society. "Contraceptives are not a solution," Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner of the National Council of Bishops in Brazil told The New York Times. “There is not a single change in the Church's position."
But some people blindly push forward, fighting the Church and demanding that Latin America join their death march. Five of the seven countries in the world that largely bans abortions are in Latin America: Chile, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic. Only the Vatican City and Malta are outside the region.
Abortion leaders are hoping this recent crises can counter years of setbacks for them in that part of the world. Public Radio International reported that the rise of microcephaly represents an opportunity to expand abortion. They quoted Debora Diniz, vice chair of the International Women’s Health Coalition and a professor at the University of Brasilia: “I’m preparing, I’m studying, I’m organizing arguments analyzing the Supreme Court climate to propose a case,” said Diniz. “We have everything on hand — we have an epidemic, we have the historical negligence of the Ministry of Health, and we have women’s needs on the table.”
Leaders in Latin American countries have recommended that women hold off on getting pregnant until the outbreak is under control. This recommendation is also is being used to mock Church teaching on the harm of abortions, the morning-after pill and contraception. The United Nations added fuel to the fire earlier this month by calling for women to have access to contraception and abortion in countries hit by the Zika virus.
Those stirring up the abortion and contraception frenzy, fail to acknowledge there is a means for avoiding pregnancy in union with Church teaching. They also ignore stories such as a mother of two girls with microcephaly attesting to the beauty of their lives. There is also Ana Carolina Caceres, a Brazilian journalist with microcephaly. She is telling her story and condemning abortion. Caceres graduated from university, wrote a book, plays the violin and maintains a blog to attest that the life of everyone with microcephaly has value.
The Catholic Church teaches that all life has value. Not just for each individual, but for those around them who are touched by their lives. Abortion proponents have never understood this. Pray for their understanding and that Latin America will remain strong.