INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indiana teacher who says she was fired from a Roman Catholic school for using in vitro fertilization to try to get pregnant is suing in a case that could set up a legal showdown over reproductive and religious rights.
Emily Herx's lawsuit accuses the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and St. Vincent de Paul school in Fort Wayne of discrimination for her firing last June. Herx, 31, of Hoagland, Ind., says that the church pastor told her she was a "grave, immoral sinner" and that a scandal would erupt if anyone learned she had undergone in vitro fertilization, or IVF.
The Roman Catholic Church shuns IVF, which involves mixing egg and sperm in a laboratory dish and transferring a resulting embryo into the womb. Herx said she was fired despite exemplary performance reviews in her eight years as a language arts teacher.
Legal experts say Herx's case illustrates a murky area in the debate over separation of church and state that even the U.S. Supreme Court has failed to clearly address.
Diocese officials said in a statement issued to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the lawsuit challenges its rights as a religious institution "to make religious based decisions consistent with its religious standards on an impartial basis."
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in January that religious workers can't sue their employers for job discrimination because anti-discrimination laws allow for a "ministerial exception." But the justices failed to define who was and who wasn't a religious employee.
"The Supreme Court didn't give us a kind of neat little on-off test as to who's a minister and who isn't," said Rick Garnett, associate dean and professor of law at Notre Dame Law School.
In a similar case in Ohio, a federal judge last month gave the go-ahead for a trial in a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati by a parochial school teacher who was fired after she became pregnant through artificial insemination, which the church is also against. The archdiocese fired Christa Dias in 2010, saying the single woman violated church doctrine.
U.S. District Judge Arthur Spiegel said in his March 29 ruling that the ministerial exception did not apply because Dias was a non-Catholic computer teacher with no role in ministering or teaching Catholic doctrine.
However, Garnett said he believed the ministerial exception cited by the Supreme Court could be applied to most parochial school teachers.
"A lot of Catholic schools, including my own kids', every teacher brings the kids to Mass, is involved in sacramental activities. ... It's not just one teacher who teaches religion, religion is pervasively involved," Garnett said. "The key question is whether it would interfere with the religious institution's religious mission, its religious message, for the government to interfere in the hiring decision."
Herx's attorney, Kathleen Delaney of Indianapolis, disagreed.
"She was not a religion teacher. She was not ordained. She was not required to and didn't have any religion teaching. She wasn't even instructed about the doctrine that she violated," said Delaney, noting the ultimate decision would be up to the courts.
Read the rest here.
Not ordained, not a religion teacher, and yet she's supposed to conform to the church's doctrine anyway? WRONG!!! This case plus the one involving artificial insemination should be proper bellwethers regarding the degree of influence (or lack thereof!) a religious employer should be able to exercise on its employees.
The RC church has for too long been the bully on the playground, insisting that EVERYONE has to do as it says or else. It's past time that bully was cut down to size.
In a similar case in Ohio, a federal judge last month gave the go-ahead for a trial in a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati by a parochial school teacher who was fired after she became pregnant through artificial insemination, which the church is also against.
Wait, what? I can sort of see their stance against IVF. It's stupid, but it conforms to their stance against abortion, since you have several fetuses going to waste in the procedure. Artificial insemination doesn't conform to any church doctrine except for the one about generally treating women like shit.
Legally, they don't have a right to enforce the opposition to either, but morally (according to their fucked-up, stupid moral system), you can justify opposing IVF.
Basically, the church opposes ANY form of reproduction which isn't "natural." I suspect they'd mandate the missionary position, if they could. They're also opposed to any manner of aid which might help a couple who are trying to get pregnant, and any form of birth control which involves interference with "nature" (again). It wouldn't surprise me if they were opposed to in utero surgery.
I can't help but notice that they ignore all the problems associated with this supposedly perfect process, like the estimated two fertilized ova NOT implanting for every one that does, the considerable number of pregnancies which fail to make it through the first trimester, and the ghastly kinds of things that can go wrong, from fused or Siamese twins to anencephaly, and far more. Of course, their god meant for ALL of that to happen to jerk around challenge his children, so that they suffer the way he intended them to suffer.
[sigh] I really would like to know just WHEN we can relegate this anachronistic bullshit to File 13 and get on with our lives without their meddling.