In recent months, much light has been shed on the Zika virus crisis in Brazil. Transmitted by the Aedes aegypt mosquito, the same that transmits dengue fever (which this writer was unfortunate enough to have as a child in Brazil), the Zika virus is believed to cause babies in the womb to develop abnormally small skulls and brains. This abnormality, or microcephaly as it is called, results in mental retardation and many life-long complications for children.
It did not take very long for certain individuals to announce abortion as the way to solve the problem. While it would certainly make more sense and be more humane to handle the root causes of the problem (sanitation, prevention, etc…), many resort once again to this Band-aid solution to the problem, which although practical, always harms the most vulnerable. To this Pope Francis was emphatic: “Abortion isn’t a lesser evil, it’s a crime.”
In the midst of this sad discussion over hypothetical situations (“Is it better for these children to be born?”) appears a young woman named Ana Carolina Caceres, a recent journalism graduate from Campo Grande, Brazil. While doctors first believed she would not survive after being diagnosed with microcephaly, she has gone on to beat all odds and become a voice for those whose lives’ worth are being put into question. Ana Carolina says that when she heard the proposals for allowing abortion (illegal in Brazil) in cases of babies that may be born with microcephaly, she felt deeply and personally attacked.
While many babies with microcephaly may not be able to achieve all that Ana Carolina has, their lives have incalculable value. Let us hope and pray that Brazil will not fall into the trap of regulating births in order to assure that only the fit and perfect have a shot at life.