Couples who have undergone sterilization procedures an then ask to adopt a child are being refused by Catholic adoption officials here.

"We are sympathetic to their second guessing, but we cannot relieve the guilt by having the couple adopt a child," explained Cathy Weber, adoption supervisor for Catholic charities, Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Weber said that "it is astronomical the number of men who have had vasectomies. I suspect there are as many men having vasectomies as there are women who have had abortions."

The issue is that of adhering to Church doctrine, she said. "We simply won't accept somebody who has had a vasectomy and then wants to adopt. We are a Catholic agency and we abide by the laws of the church, and the laws of the church say you do not have sterility operations," she said.

Consequently, all couples applying to adopt children must undergo sterility tests. "These tests are also valuable in determining how the couples feel about the inability to conceive children," she said.

"If it is one person's problem, the the other person has to be able to accept it without giving a lot of sorrow to the partner. And the person who has the problem must be able to accept it without feeling terribly guilty. Catholic Charities believes the couple had to truly accept the shared problem to successfuly parent the adopted child," Weber said.