Salvadoran priests defiant over government pregnancy edict

Warning over pregnancy

Salvadoran bishops have made no comment on a government recommendation to women to delay pregnancy because of the Zika virus, and priests contacted by Catholic News Service gave varied responses on their reaction.

- CNS/Catholic Weekly

The recommendation to not get pregnant “is illusory, [as] the state doesn’t have a say regarding the private matters of the citizens, especially in regard to the procreation of children,” Fr Jose Antonio Ventura, pastor of St John the Evangelist Parish in San Juan Opico, told CNS.

He added that the Salvadoran state has unsuccessfully tried to eradicate the mosquito, and their efforts should continue to focus on that direction.

“If someone asks me for advice, I would say that the important thing is to get rid of the larvae, but I can’t say do not get pregnant,” he added.

Health officials have urged women to postpone their pregnancies for two years, because the Zika virus can produce microcephaly, a rare neurological condition that causes smaller heads in newborns, affecting the normal development of their brain.

“So far, we have not been given any guidance by the bishops on how to deal with this situation,” said Fr Simeon Reyes, vicar of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in San Salvador.

“One of the first tasks is to go to the cause, to combat the mosquito, but I would say a recommendation to postpone the pregnancies may also be appropriate,” Fr Reyes told Catholic News Service. He said he sees no malice or misconduct in advising all women not to get pregnant until 2018.

“The government just wants to prevent skyrocketing cases of microcephaly, once detected,” he added.

He said the suggestion of the health authorities is just that, a suggestion, not an obligation, and it is for the people to decide to take it into account or not.

Photo: A pregnant woman waits to be seen at the Women’s National Hospital in San Salvador (CNS)

FULL STORY Zika virus: Salvadorean bishops silent as government warns women to delay pregnancy

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