LONDON, January 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A 39-year-old British Christian mental health worker is facing the sack for expressing her opinions in a private conversation with colleagues about the mental health problems faced by women who have had abortions.
Margaret Forrester, who works for Central North West London Mental Health Trust, has since been suspended from her position.
Forrester told colleagues that she was concerned that women are not being given adequate information on the dangers of abortion to their long-term mental health. She showed co-workers a booklet on post-abortion syndrome that featured the personal testimonies of women who have suffered from it.
After this conversation, Forrester was called into a meeting with her manager and questioned about her views. At first she was suspended from her job, but then the Trust changed her status to a special leave with pay, during which she was required to sit in an office and not work.
At a disciplinary hearing on December 22, Forrester was told that she could continue to work only if she never spoke of her beliefs about abortion again. She was told never to “give materials like this to colleagues at work.”
But Forrester has not taken these strictures lying down. “They asked me the question about whether I would do it again. I said I had not done anything unprofessional or unethical, so yes I would,” she said.
Forrester is scheduled to appear today at a second hearing.
“The fact that you cannot have an informal discussion with a colleague in the interests of patient care seems unbelievable,” she said. “I think it is likely that I will be fired.”
Andrea Minichiello Williams, CEO of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Margaret Forrester, said it is “staggering” that Forrester is being persecuted for her attempts to help patients.
“The level of intolerance in the public sphere, particularly in public sector employment, is deeply worrying and suggests that we are living in less and less of a free society,” Williams said.
Williams commented that women must be given full information on the possible threats to health of abortion “as the decision to have an abortion will impact their lives forever.”
“As well as being bad medical practice, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech are being dramatically curtailed in this case,” she said. “‘Forsaken’ is a moderate and simple booklet detailing the personal testimonies of women from Taunton who have attempted to come to terms with their own abortions. We cannot let this kind of intolerance go unchallenged.”
The booklet came from a group called “Forsaken in Taunton,” which is dedicated to educating the public about post-abortion syndrome. The group produced the booklet, they said, because “women who suffer in this way tend to feel forsaken, unable to express what they are suffering.” Women, they say, are “forced into silence” because of a strong taboo against talking about abortion in British society.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists released a statement in March 2008 admitting that abortion may damage a woman’s mental health and recommending that women not be allowed to have an abortion until they are counseled on the risks.
The British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology has also issued a report that showed that women with a history of multiple abortions may have an increased risk of low birth weight and preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies. The study found that the risk increased as the number of terminations increased.