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Argument: Condoms are needed where abstinence is not an option for women

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Marcella Alsan. "Catholic Church condom prohibition comes face to face with reality of AIDS in Africa". Catholic.com. 24 April 2006 - Of course, never having sex will significantly reduce the risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease. (It will not, though, completely eliminate the risk of contracting HIV, since the virus is also transmitted via blood products, birthing, and breastfeeding.) But the Vatican must be made aware that abstaining from sex is not a choice that many women living in the developing world have. To preach fidelity and abstinence assumes that a woman can determine with whom she sleeps and when – a grave misunderstanding of the relations between the sexes in places where women are sometimes betrothed at birth or sold for cattle. How can the Vatican continue to prohibit the use of a life-saving intervention amid a pandemic of unprecedented proportions? By reflexively invoking Humane vitae whenever the condom issue arises, the church has tragically misdiagnosed the moral problem at hand.

...What has been called the “feminization of poverty” is a particularly lethal phenomenon in conjunction with AIDS. Gender discrimination in much of the world prohibits women from owning property or earning a living wage. To survive these harsh economic realities, many women are forced into prostitution. Paul Farmer, the Harvard physician and anthropologist, has noted that the women he interviewed in Haiti “were straightforward about the nonvoluntary aspect of their sexual activity: in their opinions, poverty had forced them into unfavorable unions. Under such conditions, one wonders what to make of the notion of ‘consensual sex.’”

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