Fight Over Fertility: Catholic school teacher fired for wanting baby?

April 26, 2012 2:11:33 PM PDT
A 31-year-old Indiana Catholic school teacher never dreamed her desire to add to her family might be against church teachings.

St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne described Emily Herx as an "immoral sinner" after she revealed she needed medical help to get pregnant. They fired her.

"It's just been a very hard thing to come to grips to, because I did love my job so much and did love teaching so much," said Herx. "To have that stripped away from me--but the outpouring of support has been wonderful."

Herx taught language arts at the Catholic school for eight years but was fired last June. She had told school administrators she was using sick days to go for IVF fertility treatments.

Emily and her husband Brian have a 7-year-old, but when they tried to add to their family they discovered she has a medical condition that causes infertility.

Like all employees of the Fort Wayne , Indiana, diocese, Emily had signed a contract to respect the Catholic faith. That doctrine includes the belief that procreation is limited to marital sex.

The diocese issued a statement that went further: "There are other infertility treatments, such as in vitro fertilization, which are not morally licit according to Catholic teaching."

In her lawsuit, Herx also recounts how her pastor told her she was a "grave, immoral sinner," and that her actions would cause a "scandal" if anyone found out.

Herx has already filed a complaint with the EEOC and won. But some legal experts believe a Supreme Court decision earlier this year will hurt her chances.

"If you're a religious school, you can now terminate any employee you want for any reason you want, even if it's for a discriminatory purpose," said attorney John Singer.

Herx has also pointed out that other employees at the school have taken actions that might be against Catholic doctrine, including being divorced or used contraceptives. She also reveals the IVF procedures have so far not been successful.