The Zika virus has been making headlines since the beginning of 2016 and is fast becoming a new front in the international war against unborn life.
Until recently, the Zika virus was little-known, although it was discovered in the 1940s. Symptoms were previously mild, including headache, mild fever, conjunctivitis, rash and sore joints, usually disappearing after a few days. However, a massive recent outbreak in Brazil has affected more than a million people. As the virus extends its reach to other countries in Latin America, Africa and even Europe, scientists are discovering that it is more dangerous than previously thought.
Brazilian scientists have observed a link between people being infected with the virus and Guillain-Barré, a neurological condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly damages its own nerve cells.
More troublingly, there is mounting evidence that Zika may cause microcephaly, which affects brain development in unborn babies, resulting in mild to severe neurological damage. In 2014, Brazil had fewer than 150 cases of microcephaly. However, since October 2015, over 4700 cases have been reported. Although the link between Zika and microcephaly has yet to been confirmed, the World Health organisation declared a global public health emergency on 1 February.
UN pressure for abortion
Latin American countries are now under pressure from pro-abortion activists to liberalise their pro-life laws to permit abortions for pregnant women who have contracted the virus. The UN has increased the pressure, with the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein declaring that “laws and policies that restrict (women’s) access to these services must be urgently reviewed in line with human rights obligations in order to ensure the right to health for all in practice.”
The Brazilian Bishops’ Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement about the health crisis triggered by the Zika virus. They stress that there is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion”, but that the issue “deserves special attention”. The bishops exhort politicians to “secure medical assistance to the persons affected by the disease, especially babies with microcephaly and their families”, highlighting that “health is a right that must be guaranteed. Without a comprehensive and effective national health policy, all efforts to fight the disease will be compromised”.
In the midst of the macabre and all-too-familiar pro-abortion clamour, there are, however, some inspiring pro-life witnesses.
Brazilian Viviane Lima (35) has two daughters, Maria Luisa (16) and Ana Victoria (14), who have microcephaly. She confesses that, when they were younger, she often “wept with despair”, never knowing what tomorrow would bring. When Ana Victoria was born, doctors expected her to live for just 24 hours. "I refused to accept that," said Lima. She has dedicated her life to her daughters, learning how best to care for children with the condition. Now teenagers, the girls can dance and skate ,and they sing in their church choir.
Viviane’s life has been transformed by her daughters. “I believe that I’ve become a different person, and the family has also been transformed”, she explains in a news report on BBC.
Viviane’s youngest daughter shares her experience of having two sisters with microcephaly. “I love to be around them in the happy moments. Microcephaly just creates a difference between their physical and mental ages”, she explains. “No doctor is able to predict how my sisters’ lives are going to turn out. Only God can tell.”
Reacting to the spike in microcephaly, Lima set up a support group, sharing everything she has learned with parents with children affected by the condition.
Ana Carolina Caceres
Ana Carolina Caceres, 24, was born with microcephaly. Doctors told her parents that she had no chance of survival. But Ana Carolina defied the odds. After school and university, she became a journalist to give a voice to people who are under-represented. Careres describes herself as a fulfilled and happy woman. She has written a book about living with the syndrome.
Caceres highlights the range in severity of microcephaly, describing it as “a box of surprises. You may suffer from serious problems or you may not…those who have abortions are not giving their children a chance to succeed.”
Ana Carolina warns that abortion is not the solution; “I believe that abortion is a short-sighted attempt to tackle the problem. The most important thing is access to treatment: counselling for parents and older sufferers, and physiotherapy and neurological treatment for those born with microcephaly.”
Tragically, the forces of Big Abortion continue to display a callous eagerness in exploiting human misery to advance their own agenda but, as always, such cynicism is countered by the joyful and indominatable hope of ordinary people witnessing to the extraordinary beauty of every human life.