In the wake of the spread of Zika virus across Latin America and the Caribbean, PopeFrancis has hinted that the use of contraceptives by women could be permissible.
That’s big news since the Roman Catholic Church has considered abortion or the use of contraceptives a big sin for centuries.
The pontiff, during a news conference aboard his flight from Mexico to Rome, suggested women at risk of contracting the Zika virus can be allowed to delay pregnancy. However, he made it clear the church’s position on abortion would never change.
Emphasizing the difference between the two “sins,” he said, "Abortion is not a lesser evil — it's a crime. It's an absolute evil."
"Don't confuse avoiding pregnancy with abortion,” the pope added, according to the Catholic News Service.
In the face of a health care crisis, even the pope has been forced to accept that changes must be introduced to fight the threat posed by the Zika outbreak. But, unfortunately, U.S. Republicans are still inflexible on the issue of contraceptives.
Just last week, House Republicans running the Zika virus hearing avoided the issue of contraception and family planning access for women in endemic countries.
The World Health Organization recently declared the Zika epidemic a "public health emergency of international concern." The agency this week asked nations around the world for $56 million to fight Zika through the end of June. The virus has been reported in at least 34 countries, many of them in Central and Latin America.
Health officials have urged women to postpone their pregnancies for two years, because the Zika virus has been linked to microcephaly, a rare condition that causes smaller heads in newborns.
The Catholic Church, since time immemorial, has opposed artificial birth control, but promotes natural family planning to space births.
However, if the pope and the church can budge on the issue in order to protect the health of women in affected countries, why can’t the GOP?