The very public, very Hollywood battle for life

Every once in a while, I will read an item in the news and it will hit me as clear as day: The Church is right, and if more people understood that, we surely could avoid a lot of heartbreak.

Such was the case when I read the story about Sophia Vergara and Nick Loeb, or what I’ve given the working title, “The actress, the ex-fiancé and the embryos.”

In 2013, Loeb, a businessman, and Vergara, an actress on ABC’s “Modern Family,” were engaged. They wanted children. According to a New York Times opinion piece by Loeb that ran April 29, Vergara insisted on using in vitro fertilization and a surrogate to have a child rather than the natural route.

So the couple created four female embryos and signed some paperwork: to wit, a contract with a clause saying that the embryos could only be brought to term with the consent of both parents. After two unsuccessful tries at pregnancy, two embryos remain on ice.

Vergara and Loeb split in 2014. A few months later, Loeb sued. He wants his kids.

A few days after Loeb’s opinion piece ran, Vergara, who is now engaged to another man, responded during a talk radio interview with Howard Stern saying the couple had signed a contract and that she is well within her rights to deny Loeb custody of the embryos.

“Fortunately or unfortunately, there is law,” she said. “You signed legal papers. If it was serious for him, this issue — which I totally respect is for someone — he should have taken it more seriously. There is a contract.”

When asked whether she thought the embryos were living, Vergara, who attended Catholic school, said: “Even if it’s life or not life, that’s not what he signed!”

The lives of the couple’s two daughters are now subject to a legal battle that should never have had to take place.

I don’t think I could have crafted a more compelling tale that so clearly reflects the truth of the Church and its teachings when it comes to family and reproductive morality. It checks all the boxes: life created outside of marriage; life created on a whim and under terms of convenience; life set aside when it no longer served its perceived purpose, i.e., the fulfillment of the parents.

The Church in its wisdom seeks to avoid such scenarios by teaching that only a married man and woman should bring life into the world, and that it is “gravely immoral” for third-party techniques to be used. It’s not to punish couples; it’s to safeguard the lives of their children. As the Catechism states: “A child is not something owed to one, but is a gift. ... A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged ‘right to a child’ would lead” (No. 2378).

No one can fault this or any couple for wanting children. Many struggle daily with infertility or the desire to have a family, and they need our prayers. But this simply isn’t the way.