Emily Herx, a Fort Wayne, Indiana school teacher, was fired from a Roman Catholic school for undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures.
Herx’s lawsuit accuses the Diocese in Fort Wayne, as well as the St. Vincent de Paul school for firing her last June because she underwent IVF, which the church pastor informed her she was a “grave, immoral sinner” and that she would cause a scandal if anyone found out about the procedure.
In vitro vertilization is a procedure that mixes and egg and sperm in a laboratory dish, and then transfers the embryo to the patient’s womb. The Roman Catholic church is against any unnatural form of fertilization, including IVF, because they believe it is not sacred, and is not what God intended.
They also denounce the procedure, because clinics usually fertilize more eggs than are implanted, and these extra embryos are sometimes destroyed. Dr. John Haas, director of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia states:
“To have a child by in vitro almost invariably results in the death of a number of embryos as one works to bring one to term.”
Diocese officials informed the AP on Wednesday that the lawsuit challenges its rights to, “to make religious based decisions consistent with its religious standards on an impartial basis.” The case is a sensitive topic, as it is on the border of crossing the separation of church and state.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in January that religious workers may not sue their employers for job discrimination, as the anti-discrimination law allows for a “ministerial exception.”
Rick Garnett, associate dean and professor of law at Notre Dame Law School, states that, “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.” He goes on to explain that this exception, however, could be applied to positions like the one that Emily Herx held. He states:
“It’s not just one teacher who teaches religion, religion is pervasively involved. 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 lawyer, Kathleen Delaney disagrees completely. Delaney states:
“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.”
A similar case in Ohio recently went before U.S. District Judge Arthur Spiegel, who ruled that the woman, Christa Dias, who used artificial insemination to get pregnant, would be allowed to sue Archdiocese of Cincinnati for firing her because of the procedure.
For more information on In Vitro Fertilization, check out the video below: