Yet another provocative Catholic story

Dateline: Thu 26 Apr 2012

From Wednesday's News-Sentinel in Fort Wayne, by reporter Sarah Janssen, a story about a Catholic schoolteacher who was fired because she was trying to get pregnant via in vitro fertilization:

"The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend released a statement Wednesday asserting its right as a religious employer 'to make religious based decisions consistent with its religious standards on an impartial basis' in light of a discrimination lawsuit filed against the diocese by a former teacher.

"Emily Herx had taught literature and language arts at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School since 2003. She alleges the diocese discriminated against her and violated her civil rights when she was fired because of her decision to undergo in vitro fertilization (IVF), according to the lawsuit filed in federal court April 19."

Indianapolis attorney Kathleen DeLaney -- who recently helped secure a settlement for former Star reporter Susan Guyett in an age-discrimination lawsuit against the paper -- is representing Herx. They will hold a press conference Friday at DeLaney's offices.

This is a disturbing story that seems to trap the Catholic church (my church) in a Catch-22: male Catholic schoolteachers who have vasectomies or practice birth control with condoms -- or women Catholic teachers practicing birth control -- are given a pass if they keep their mouths shut about their activities. But a teacher who was straight forward gets canned.

From Janssen's story:

"According to the lawsuit, Herx had always been up-front and honest with the school's principal, Sandra Guffey, about her procedures. Herx suffers from a diagnosed medical condition that causes infertility. In 2008, Herx informed Guffey that she and her husband were considering fertility treatment, to which Guffey replied, “You are in my prayers,” according to the lawsuit.

"Infertility is considered a disability under the American Disabilities Act, according to the lawsuit."

Apparently, all would have been well had not Guffey mentioned the IVF treatments to Rev. John Kuzmich, pastor of the St. Vincent DePaul Church that runs the school.  That's when Guffey was ultimately told she was a "grave immoral sinner" whose treatments would cause a scandal if word got out, reports Janssen.

But, as Herx points out in the lawsuit, she was "treated differently" from other teachers, including Guffey, who is divorced, and male teachers who have had vasectomies.

Even more ironic: the "diocese's self-funded health insurance plan also covered Herx's visits to the fertility doctor and anesthesia services associated with IVF procedures, according to the lawsuit."

To quote John Mitchell, or rather to paraphrase, I would say the church just got its tit in a big fat wringer over this issue. DeLaney is not to be trifled with; the inconsistencies, at least as alleged by the lawsuit, are off the charts -- what's good for the goose is not for the gander.

Incidentally, the problem for many Catholics is that IVF is not evil, as the church believes and teaches. But the exercise of conscience is not permitted (although apparently it is when it comes to various forms of birth control).

This will be one to watch, from many perspectives.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

hendy [Member] said:

Faith. Conscience. Galileo. Forgiveness. Martin Luther. John XXIII. John Paul II. The Bishop of Peoria. Empty churches. Meaningful acts. Social Justice. Boniface Hardin. Women Priests. Chastity. Avignon. Henry VIII.

By many people's reckoning, he's right. By other's reckoning, he's intolerant, unforgiving, and/or just wrong.

I admire your faith in these times, Ruth. Each of us has to decide whether to raise an eyebrow. Some will. Some won't.

2012-04-26 15:24:28

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

This made the Today show this morning.
Sigh!
Yet another Indiana rube story.

2012-04-26 19:59:31

Tell The Truth [Member] said:

I have to confess I'm confused over this....and perhaps ignorant. Isn't the IVF procedure described, a mix of the wife's and husband's natural reproductive materials? In a lab setting, because her body won't tolerate it "naturally" ?

I could mildly--VERY mildly--understand the consistency of the Bishop opposing the introduction of a non-husband's sperm into the woman.

We Methodists have our own crosses to bear--Annual Conference is this summer, and the issues are overwhelming.

But if the church's own health plan covered these procedures, what in the Sam Hell are they worried about now?

Selective indignation is never pretty. And Ms. Delaney hits another home run. She's become a superb moral barometer. Wonder if something's baseline-fair? Ask her. She was well-raised for this task, but I wish she didn't have to do it so damned often.

I admire the plaintiff's honesty. Her job action basically forces couples to remain mum if they want to stay employed by the archdiocese.

Which is dishonest, right?

Silly as incense.

Can the church afford many more of these basic civil rights lawsuits? I mean, is their treasury endless?

I'm betting the archdiocese's health plan is strikingly similar to most other areas of Catholic America. And if so, this case cannot be isolated--IVF is a recognized, safe and common procedure.

Anyone else struck by the irony of "chaste" single men making these kinds of decisions for women? And their public statements afterward are always so full of angry, vile adjectives.

If you've got to oppose the woman, how about something like:

"We regret this decision was necessary, but we need to remain true to our core beliefs, and we wish her well."

Fiery rhetoric in the name of God. And My God Weeps every time.

Oy vey.

2012-04-27 07:29:17

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

It would seem to me that this should raise more issues about the new state voucher system - which supplies public funds to religious-based schools.

I am awaiting a case where an openly homosexual teacher is fired from a teaching job in a private religious school and challenges the firing by pointing out that the school receives voucher (public) funds.

I am not in favor of any public monies of any kind going to any religious school or institution.

And I am someone who has a strong belief in God.

2012-04-27 11:55:15

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Just realized that, without perspective, someone reading my post above might think that I was "gay bashing" in the second graph of my message.

That's absolutely not the case. If I remember my college French class lessons correctly after all of these decades....."au contraire." What someone does in their personal life is none of my business.

One's sexual preference is irrelevant to his/her teaching ability. But it probably is not irrelevant to many religious school administrators.

2012-04-27 12:34:36

hendy [Member] said:

That the ACLU hasn't challenged voucher funding for religious schools just stymies me. This is public school funding, not parochial school funding. The Separation Doctrine ought to halt it like a ton of bricks, but I haven't seen a peep. Goodbye, public schools. You did a great job when I was around.

2012-04-27 12:39:13

zulgblwqax [unverified] said:

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2012-04-28 10:12:36

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Very well stated, zulgblwqax. But I think you might want to cut back a little bit on your scotch and soda.

2012-04-28 14:34:23

Packer [unverified] said:

I've spent decades trying to fertilize Catholic schoolteachers in vivo, and I tell you it simply doesn't work. Some sort of appliance is always needed.

2012-05-01 20:58:40

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