Amid the Vatican's belated -- to say the least -- deliberation on the use of condoms to battle the AIDS epidemic in Africa comes another sign of archaic thinking. In an Associated Press article, Kelly Romenesko alleges that she was fired from her job teaching French at two Roman Catholic schools after she conceived using in vitro fertilization. Catholic teaching holds in vitro fertilization to be immoral. Romenesko's lawyer, James C. Jones, said that she was fired based on claims that she had violated her contract by failing to follow Catholic doctrine.
The definitive source on Catholic teachings on in vitro fertilization is a 1987 decree by Pope Benedict XVI, then Joseph Ratzinger. He wrote, "These procedures are contrary to the human dignity proper to the embryo, and at the same time they are contrary to the right of every person to be conceived and to be born within marriage and from marriage." Romenesko claims that no embryos were harmed in the process, and that she used her own eggs and her husband's sperm. According to her, though, that wasn't enough to allay the administration's concerns, and she was fired soon after announcing her pregnancy.
Jones said administrators knew about Romenesko's plan to attempt in vitro fertilization beforehand. "It was only after she was pregnant that she was terminated," Jones said. Let me get this straight: Administrators would have found a failed attempt acceptable? How does that negate the potential harm to embryos? (It's painful and futile, though, to attempt to follow the church's thinking on this issue as though it actually followed a coherent line of reasoning.)
Romenesko filed a discrimination claim that was turned down; she has appealed, but the hearing has been postponed until September. In the meantime, she is attempting to raise some noise via her Web site, which details her story and includes photos of her twin baby girls. Let's hope that the Vatican's reconsideration of its position on contraception use in Africa is a sign of change.