WASHINGTON — A proposed document from the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities looks at the relationship between sex and procreation and the moral issues surrounding various technologies for treating infertility, including in vitro fertilization, embryo adoption and surrogacy. The document,"Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology," will be debated and voted on by the full body of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at their November 16-19 meeting in Baltimore.
“The Church has compassion for couples suffering from infertility and wants to be of real help to them," explains the draft document."At the same time, some ‘reproductive technologies’ are not legitimate ways to solve those problems. We bishops of the United States offer this reflection to explain why. We also offer it to provide hope — real hope that couples can fulfill their procreative potential and build a family while fully respecting God’s design for their marriage and for the gift of children."
“Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology" draws on Church teaching, including Vatican documents Donum Vitae (1987), Evangelium Vitae (1995) and Dignitas Personae (2008), the last of which was released during the development of the bishops’ document. It includes questions and answers on the issue and testimony from couples who followed the Church’s teaching, and offers pastoral guidance and encouragement for couples who struggle with infertility.
The document reaffirms Catholic teaching against in vitro fertilization, egg and sperm donation, surrogacy, cloning and embryo donation. It also explains that Catholic couples may pursue a wide variety of ethical treatments, including hormonal treatment and other medications, surgery to repair damaged fallopian tubes, natural family planning, and means for alleviating male infertility factors.
Says the document:"These avenues do not substitute for the married couple’s act of loving union; rather, they assist this act in reaching its potential for giving rise to a new human life."
After being debated by the U.S. bishops in Baltimore, "Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology" will require a vote of approval by two-thirds of the membership of the USCCB. This educational resource was prepared by the Pro-Life Committee as a companion to the document "Married Love and the Gift of Life," explaining the Church's teaching on contraception. Intended especially for engaged and married couples, that document was approved by the bishops in 2007 and has been distributed through many Catholic marriage preparation programs in the United States.