Catholic School Teacher Fired for Having In Vitro

ByABC News via logo
May 11, 2006, 8:18 AM

May 11, 2006 — -- After five years trying to conceive, Kelly and Eric Romenesko decided to try in vitro fertilization.

Their twins, Alexandria and Allison, were born last year. It was a joyous event in the couple's life.

"They're miracles. They're precious," Kelly Romenesko said.

The couple were not prepared for what came next. When Kelly, a teacher at two Catholic schools in Wisconsin, told her bosses she had gotten pregnant through in vitro, they handed her a pink slip.

"I was in tears," she said. "I remember asking, 'Is this the only reason why I'm being fired?' They stated, 'Yes.'"

The schools say Romenesko agreed to follow church teachings when she was hired. One of those teachings was that the in vitro technique was morally wrong because it replaced natural conception.

"I did not know what the Catholic doctrine stated against in vitro fertilization. Yes, I signed a contract, but the contract was vague in my opinion. I didn't know what I was doing as far as in vitro goes that that went against doctrine. My understanding was it was the Ten Commandments."

People like Joseph Capizzi of the Culture of Life Foundation said that in vitro fertilization ran counter to Catholic teachings, which stress that a child should be conceived through sex between a husband and wife.

"It's not so much that it's artificial that's the problem, instead it's removing the sexual act and procreative act from the context of marriage," he said.

The church also takes issue with in vitro because embryos are sometimes destroyed, but Romenesko said there were other teachers who had in vitro in the school. She said she did not go public with her announcement but "stated it to a principal behind closed doors that we were going through this process."

Romenesko appealed to the school board, but it would not reinstate her. Now a state agency is looking into the case. Meanwhile, the Romeneskos have stopped practicing Catholicism.

"I think the issue here is the fact that Kelly was released from her job for being pregnant, not the in vitro fertilization itself," Eric said. "Our daughters have been baptized Lutheran at this point in time. Kelly and I haven't converted yet."

"It wouldn't change my ability to teach in any way," she said. "It's a shame. This shouldn't have happened."