INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A former Roman Catholic schoolteacher who sued a
northern Indiana diocese after being fired nearly three years ago for
having in vitro fertilization says in court documents that church doctrine
on the procedure should not be presented to the jury.
filed last week in federal court in Fort Wayne, church attorneys said they
want Bishop Kevin Rhoades and other officials in the Diocese of Fort
Wayne-South Bend to testify and explain the doctrine in Emily Herx's sex
discrimination lawsuit against the diocese and St. Vincent De Paul School
in Fort Wayne.
attorneys said in documents the doctrine is irrelevant and that the church
has flipped its former position.
argued repeatedly that their religious teachings should not be hashed out
before a secular court, and now they seek to bring religious teachings
front and center," Herx's lawyers wrote.
Catholic Church shuns in vitro fertilization, or IVF, which involves
mixing egg and sperm in a laboratory dish and transferring a resulting
embryo into the womb.
Herx sued the
diocese in April 2012, alleging the diocese violated the Civil Rights Act
and the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against her
based on gender and on infertility, which is considered a disability.
In a letter Herx
wrote to St. Vincent officials shortly after she was informed of her
dismissal, she said it was terrible to be forced to choose between trying
to have children and keeping her job as a language arts teacher. Herx, who
is not Catholic, said in the letter that she miscarried the embryo at the
end of April 2011, shortly after learning her contract would not be
covers roughly the northeastern quarter of Indiana. It has said that
teachers, even those who aren't Catholic, are required by their contracts
to abide by Catholic tenets and "serve as moral exemplars."
Herx, 34, said
that the church pastor told her she was a "grave, immoral sinner."
Shaela Evenson, an unmarried teacher at a Roman Catholic middle school in
Butte, Mont., was fired after getting pregnant. The Diocese of Montana
said she violated the terms of her contract, which requires her to respect
the moral and religious teachings of the Catholic Church in both her
professional and personal life. The church believes that procreation
should be limited to marital sex. Evenson said she is pursuing legal
In Herx's case,
diocese officials have said the lawsuit challenges its freedom to make
decisions based on religious belief.
violates the teachings of the Catholic Church is not a fact at issue in
this case," Herx's attorneys said. The American Civil Liberties Union and
the American Society for Reproductive Medicine have filed briefs in
support of Herx.
both sides did not have additional comment Thursday. No date for the trial
has been set.