Antigua: Catholic Church rules out abortion for Zika cases

Antigua Observer – The Catholic Church has made it clear that abortion in the case of Zika would not be an option for the institution.

Bishop of St John’s Basseterre Kenneth Richards said the church does not believe in attacking innocent lives regardless of the circumstances.

“What would be advisable is that persons take the necessary precautions, because sometimes we can be less than prudent and vigilant with respect to how we conduct ourselves, especially in the face of danger,” Bishop Richards told OBSERVER media.

He suggested that women and men should instead follow the message of prevention and precaution as has been preached by the health authorities.

The view of the Catholic bishop was supported by the Executive Director of the Antigua Planned Parenthood Association Lyndale Weaver Greenaway.

She said while abortion is a personal choice, it is not a decision her department would support.

“I think legalising abortion will not make a significant impact, because it is sort of impossible to determine whether every unborn child will be affected by microcephaly,” Greenaway said.

The US Centre for disease control recently concluded that Zika virus infection in pregnant women can stunt neonatal brain development, leading to babies born with abnormally small heads, a condition known as microcephaly.

Global health officials had already assumed the virus was to blame for the problems being seen in various countries.

And, since January, many have advised women who were pregnant or hoping to become so to avoid travel to Zika-affected areas or to take steps to avoid Zika infection.

That medical advice also extends to Antigua which recorded its first ZIKA case last week.