‘Humanae Vitae’ 50 years later: a doctor’s reflections

July 25 marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of Blessed Pope Paul VI’s landmark encyclical, “Humanae Vitae” (“On Human Life”), which re-explored and re-affirmed the Catholic Church’s long-standing opposition to artificial contraception and its teachings on sexual morality.
It also anticipated cultural evils that would result from the use of contraceptives, such as marital infidelity, the devaluation of women, a decline in moral standards, potential for abuse by governmental authority and desire for unlimited power over one’s own body.
The encyclical had a profound impact on Omaha physician Dr. Thomas Hilgers, who, as a medical student, read the document. He has since committed his obstetrics and gynecology practice to developing and promoting an effective natural family planning model that responds to the church’s holistic vision of human sexuality and respects the dignity of spouses.
As founder in 1985, with his wife, Susan, of the Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha, Hilgers conducted groundbreaking research leading to the development of the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, which provides a reliable natural family planning technique. The institute also developed NaPro Technology (Natural Procreative Technology), which offers hope to couples experiencing infertility.
The institute has trained thousands of teachers and hundreds of doctors in the Creighton Model FertilityCare System. And its fellowship program is training young obstetrician-gynecologists in the medical and surgical aspects of NaPro Technology.
The Catholic Voice spoke with Hilgers about the impact of artificial contraception on human sexuality and today’s culture, and what his research and practice offers to people committed to following God’s plan for family and fertility, as set forth in Humanae Vitae.
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