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Some diocesan records sealed in Indiana IVF-dismissal case

CWN - June 03, 2013

A federal judge has allowed the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, to seal some personnel records in the process leading up to a court trial in a case involving a woman who was dismissed from her teaching post in a Catholic school after undergoing in vitro fertilization.

Personnel records are ordinarily kept confidential, but lawyers for the plaintiff, Emily Herx, said that the judge’s order will make it difficult to argue her case. Herx charges that she was the victim of discrimination, because she was unable to conceive without medical intervention. The diocese counters that she had violated the terms of her contract, which required her to abide by Catholic moral teachings. The Church condemns in vitro fertilization, while approving treatments that address the causes of infertility.

The Herx case will test the “ministerial exception,” under which American courts have generally refused to become involved in arguments over how religious bodies choose their ministers and other religious personnel. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled last year that Herx had been the victim of illegal discrimination.

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