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British Mental Health Worker Challenges her treatment after sharing concerns about post-abortion syndrome in lawsuit

by | Jun 6, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Margaret Forrester

It is important to keep NRL News Today readers abreast of international news, which carries an obligation, gladly assumed, to update stories as there are new developments.

Back in December 2010, we wrote about  British mental health worker Margaret Forrester who was sacked for “gross professional misconduct.” What had she done? Distributed a booklet titled “Forsaken–Women From Taunton Talk About Abortion,” composed of the stories of five women who experienced post-abortion syndrome. The material was informally shared with a colleague, not with patients. As we reported at the time Ms. Forrester was worried that women seeking medical advice were routinely offered abortions without fully considering alternatives.

Well, working with attorneys from the Thomas More Legal Centre, Forrester has now filed a lawsuit accusing her former employers, the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, of violating her freedom of religion and freedom of expression rights. According to the Christian Post Forrester, who is Roman Catholic and formerly served as a ‘psychological well-being practitioner’ for the trust, was allegedly called into a meeting with management about a week after handing her co-worker the booklet in early November 2010. She was then ‘interrogated in a demeaning manner about the booklet and her pro-life views,’ the lawsuit claims, and was suspended from her work.

“When she returned to work a week later, she was allegedly told to do ‘demeaning’ tasks and was not permitted to do any clinical work. She claims the stress she experienced ‘from the harassment she was subjected to’ even forced her to take some days off from work.

“In early December she was called into another meeting where she told management that, given the opportunity to do it again, she would still give her colleague the booklet. In late January she was found guilty of ‘gross misconduct’ for giving away the booklet and ‘gross insubordination’ for saying she would do it again.

“She was also accused of distributing information that ‘individuals may find offensive’ in an earlier meeting, the suit claims, and it was made clear during the disciplinary procedure that Forrester’s employers opposed the booklet because it was ‘religious in tone.””

According to the Thomas More Legal Centre, “At no point in the disciplinary process was it ever suggested that the person who was given the booklet or indeed anyone else had in fact found it offensive,” TMLC states in her defense.”

So why was she fired? Ultimately, the suit states, because she refused to accept her new position at work, which her attorneys describe as a “punishment posting” and a role that she felt was inappropriate for someone with her particular skills and training.

“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,” Thomas More Legal Centre argues. “If abortion is as problem free as the NHS claims then there should be no objection to the subject being discussed amongst Health Service professionals.”

A spokesman for the Thomas More Legal Center told The Telegraph newspaper,  “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.”

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Categories: post-abortion