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Punishing 1 Side Means Speech Not Free

by | May 29, 2012

By Wesley J. Smith

There is an astonishing intolerance of pro life speech among those who rule in the power structure.  I think of Paster Walter Hoye, arrested in Oakland for merely passing out anti abortion material and conversing with women.  But at least we (still) have the First Amendment in the USA, and Hoye’s conviction was overturned on appeal because the City of Oakland allowed the same kinds of communications to be made by pro choicers for which Hoye was jailed.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a similar paradigm appears to be at work. Last year, a Christian mental health worker was demoted because she expressed pro life views to a colleague, and then fired when she refused to assume the new duties.  Now, she’s suing the NHS for violating her human rights.  From the Telegraph story:

“Margaret Forrester was dismissed for “gross professional misconduct” after giving a colleague a booklet highlighting potential physical and psychological damage some women suffer after an abortion. She was told that the booklet, in which women who had terminated pregnancies in the past spoke of their regrets, could amount to ‘offensive’ material. Yesterday the 40 year-old, from Battersea, south London, launched a human rights challenge against her former employer at the High Court. She accuses the Central and North West London NHS Trust of breaching her freedom of religion and freedom of speech in its treatment of her…

“A spokesman for the Thomas More Legal Centre, the religious freedom charity representing her, said: ‘The attitude of the NHS in the Margaret Forrester case is not only harmful to its employees. By limiting free discussion of the experiences of patients who have had abortions or any other type of medical treatment the NHS is harming the interests of patients…If the NHS is not willing to allow the effects of Abortion to be discussed by NHS staff it raises a real question as to what the NHS is afraid of.’ He added: ‘If employees of the NHS cannot even discuss the subject of abortion with their colleagues then this means that the NHS has become a dangerously totalitarian organisation with no regard for freedom or diversity.’”

There’s a lot of that going around. Just as in the Hoye case, had Forrester expressed a pro choice view to a pro life colleague, you know the offended complainer would have been told to suck it up, if not told that if she didn’t like it, she could quit.

But here’s the real deal.  If Forrester’s version of the facts is accurate, it is an abuse of human rights. Free speech isn’t free when only one side is allowed to express their opinions without consequence.

Editor’s note. This appears on Wesley’s great blog.

Categories: Free Speech