Emma Saloranta commenting on the cruel irony of the instructions issued by leaders of Latin American countries in which the Zika virus is now spreading rapidly, not to get pregnant while the virus is spreading:
Not only do women in Latin America lack access to sexual and reproductive health and family planning services and often have no access to contraceptives, many of them also lack the necessary knowledge to be able to control if and when they get pregnant. Latin America and Caribbean has an estimated 1. 2 million unintended pregnancies just among adolescents every year. Nearly half of sexually active young women in the region have an unmet need for contraception -- making it near impossible for them to control their reproductive choices and reliably avoid an unwanted pregnancy. As the region is predominately Roman Catholic, the church's condemnation of contraceptives seems to be quite a contradiction to the recommendation for women to delay pregnancy. So far, the statements made by government officials have also categorically ignored the role and responsibility of men in all of this -- after all, it usually takes two people for a woman to get pregnant. As long as women cannot conceive a baby alone, they should not be expected to bear the responsibility of avoiding unwanted pregnancies alone either.
What's making the situation even worse is the fact that in most of these countries, abortion is either fully illegal or very hard to obtain -- leading women's rights groups to call for changes to existing abortion laws and bans, particularly in the extreme case of El Salvador where abortion is banned even in a case of fetal deformation.
There's recently been much moaning and groaning at Catholic sites online about the lack of media coverage for this year's March for Life. As I hear the complaints, I want to ask the moaners and groaners why they don't consider the possibility that they and other "pro-life" Catholics or evangelicals have so badly represented an ethic of life that the media (and many others) feel little attraction at all to the "pro-life" movement and its message.
To put the point bluntly, many "pro-life" Catholics whose work I read at "liberal" Catholic blog sites like National Catholic Reporter or Commonweal strike me as outright, belligerent bullies. What they proclaim as a "pro-life" message sounds to me like a bullying attempt to make the rest of society dance to their dogmatic tune or else.
They remain totally unwilling to engage in respectful conversation with people — fellow Catholics included — who maintain that the question of when a human person is fully present in the process of fetal development remains open, and that dogmatic pronouncements that a person is fully present from the moment of conception simply don't close that discussion. They also refuse to discuss how their cheerleading for fascist actions like the production of entrapment videos to tell lies about Planned Parenthood undercuts their Catholic moral values, and suggesst to many of us that the moral basis for their "pro-life" cause is weak, since it must resort to lies and bullying tactics to make its case.
They have no time at all to talk about how their alliance with people who oppose rights for LGBT human beings negatively affects the quality of lives of LGBT people, and places LGBT youth, in particular, at risk. They won't discuss how the opposition of many "pro-lifers" to healthcare coverage for all citizens militates against an ethic of respect for life, nor will they talk about how opposing access to contraception places many women in situations in which abortion becomes an attractive option.
I've long since concluded that if "pro-life" is what these folks are about, then I want nothing to do with the so-called pro-life movement. Precisely because I do respect life . . . .