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Margaret Forrester was fired by the NHS for giving a booklet on the effects of abortion to a colleague who made no complaint: how deep will this purge go?

Anti-abortion doctors are threatened with being struck off: now this totalitarian sacking. What’s next?

By on Monday, 4 June 2012

Margaret Forrester has launched a human rights challenge against the NHS at the High Court (PA photo)

Margaret Forrester has launched a human rights challenge against the NHS at the High Court (PA photo)

Is there an NHS policy – secret or simply implicit — of purging health care in this country, not simply of Catholics who will not carry out abortions (see my last post) or refer pregnant women to colleagues who will abort their children, but even of health care professionals who do no more than discuss their objections to abortion, not with “patients” (ie pregnant women, who have nothing wrong with them, so are not actually patients at all) but with colleagues?

Consider, if you have not already done so, the case of Mrs Margaret Forrester, who was a “psychological wellbeing practitioner” before being fired, who has launched a human rights challenge against the NHS at the High Court. She accuses the Central and North West London NHS Trust of breaching her freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

She was “disciplined” (an interesting euphemism, in the circumstances) after discussing her views on abortion with a colleague who worked as a receptionist organising, inter alia, abortion appointments. Her concern was that women seeking medical advice were being routinely offered abortions without fully considering other options. In the course of this conversation, she gave her colleague a copy of a pamphlet entitled Forsaken, in which five women who have had abortions tell their stories, and discuss how abortion has affected them.

A week later Mrs Forrester was summoned for a meeting in which she was interrogated over her views before being suspended. She was moved to other duties in what her lawyers say was a “punishment posting”. When she was questioned during these “disciplinary proceedings” she said she did not regret giving her colleague the leaflet: she was then accused of insubordination. During these proceedings she was told, it seems, that part of the problem with the booklet was that it was “religious in tone”. She was subsequently fired for her reluctance to be shifted to a job which was unrelated to her area of expertise.

It is important to note that she did not give the booklet to an NHS “patient”, nor did Mrs Forrester ever suggest that it should be (though why it shouldn’t be offered to a woman uncertain about whether to proceed with the killing of her own child, I really don’t understand). The conversation between Mrs Forrester and her colleague was friendly and the receptionist did not object to being given the booklet.

According to the Thomas More Legal Centre, which is representing Mrs Forrester, the human rights aspects of the case have been clear from the outset. “Even those who disagree with Margaret Forrester’s views on abortion should support her in this claim,” it says. “If employees of the NHS cannot even discuss the subject of abortion with their colleagues then the NHS has become a dangerously totalitarian organisation with no regard for freedom or diversity.”

“The NHS is harming the interests of patients by attempting to crack down on free discussion,” the centre continues, “If abortion is as problem-free as the NHS claims then there should be no objection to the subject being discussed among health service professionals.”

Mrs Forrester has now lodged a case at the High Court, suing the Central and North West London NHS Trust for breaches of Articles 9, 10 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The articles, enshrined in the 1998 Human Rights Act, respectively protect the human rights to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; freedom of expression, and protection from unjust discrimination.

You would have thought, wouldn’t you, that she has an open and shut case? But it’s not just the NHS that doesn’t believe in the human rights of Christians to express their views on such questions. As Deacon Nick points out on Protect the Pope, “based on past cases brought by Christians the likelihood is that the UK judiciary will continue to perpetrate the lie that Christians’ human rights are not being violated in the UK.”

According to Lord Carey, who after a difficult decade as a sometimes uncertain Archbishop of Canterbury (though I was always rather fond of him) is really coming into his own,

Courts in Britain have “consistently applied equality law to discriminate against Christians”.

They show a “crude” misunderstanding of the faith by treating some believers as “bigots”. He writes: “In a country where Christians can be sacked for manifesting their faith, are vilified by state bodies, are in fear of reprisal or even arrest for expressing their views on sexual ethics, something is very wrong.

“It affects the moral and ethical compass of the United Kingdom. Christians are excluded from many sectors of employment simply because of their beliefs; beliefs which are not contrary to the public good.”

He outlines a string of cases in which he argues that British judges have used a strict reading of equality law to strip the legally established right to freedom of religion of “any substantive effect”.

“It is now Christians who are persecuted; often sought out and framed by homosexual activists,” he says. “Christians are driven underground. There appears to be a clear animus to the Christian faith and to Judaeo-Christian values. Clearly the courts of the United Kingdom require guidance.”

Lord Carey is now appealing to the ECHR, from which, ironically, Christians currently seem to be getting more recognition of their rights than they do here. His case will be heard in Strasbourg on September 4, and will deal with the case of two workers forced out of their jobs over the wearing of crosses as a visible manifestation of their faith. It will also include the cases of Gary McFarlane, a counsellor sacked for refusing to give sex therapy to homosexual couples, and also the Christian registrar who wishes not to conduct civil partnership ceremonies.

I don’t know whether Margaret Forrester’s case will have gone through the courts here by then; but it could well be another one for Lord Carey. Truly, we have come to a desperate pass in this country: the Pope’s warnings about the “dictatorship” of Erelativism are being borne out more dramatically than, 10 years ago, I would have thought possible. These are strange and sinister times: how will it all look in another 10 years’ time?

  • JByrne24

    Well I shall not presume to guessing your political opinions.

  • JByrne24

    Yes indeed. I agree.

  • JByrne24

    At my age I never look.

  • JByrne24

    Well they have simply decided that I have no wife or grand-children etc, and am a ratty old woman (ex-nun atheist of course, and GAY tut-tut) planted here to get up their morally superior noses.
    Their opinions are their definition of truth (you often get a lot of this with SOME Catholics).

  • JByrne24

    That is really a profound question.
    I can’t answer “exactly when, at what point do they become Human?” because I don’t know.
    BUT I do know that at some stages it is absurd to claim that a foetus is a Human Being.
    Your claim about “nothing added” and “food and oxygen” is, I believe, ridiculous. Much is added – and as regards the spiritual dimension: well that is something that theologians argue about and have always argued about and discussed – and always will.

  • JByrne24

    Actually they often used to be. The election of a Pope is a remnant of those times.

  • JByrne24

    That is true.

  • JByrne24

    No. But I don’t like abusive language, either spoken or written, and I don’t use it.

  • teigitur

    Its not that profound. Its logical that you are a human being from the beginning.Everything starts at the beginning, no other time.
     Fact, not claim, you are completely there when sperm meets ovum, nothing is added but food and oxygen. You really should look into this, as you are in error. As for “spiritual  consideration, ie soul , well thats another days work.

  • teigitur

    You don t get up my nose. But your many errors and falsehoods need to be rebuffed. It does not really matter who, or what you are. But claiming to be a Catholic whilst supporting abortion, is a very strange position indeed.

  • Fides_et_Ratio

    > “My analogy was not exact, that’s the nature of analogies”

    No, some analogies are much better than yours.

    > “But you admit that an
    organisation can fire someone who acts against it’s ethos.”

    If it is a private organization, and if their main mission is teaching – such as Greenpeace or the Church.

    > “The NHS is hardly private, but Ms. Forrester’s chances of regaining
    employment would have been far better than those of a nun or priest.”

    Not at all. The nun/priest can easily get a teaching position, or join The Episcopal Church or other liberal protestant church, for example.

    > “The nuns are far more worried though.”

    Because of alarmism. The Holy See is only going to gently reform their statues.

    > “Perhaps a better analogy is needed. If an employee at a catholic
    hospital in the US, one of the many who never carry out terminations,
    was seen to hand a receptionist an unbalanced pro-abortion leaflet,
    would that person be fired?”

    With 99.999% of likelihood, he would not be fired. The Church tolerates even public heresy from priests, let alone an employee who handed one pamphlet.

  • Fides_et_Ratio

    > “What, you think it’s moral to tell lies?”

    Straw man, bald-faced lie. You have no reason to believe
    that the woman in question didn’t believe what she was saying.

    > “which the prolife
    movement invariably legislate against, if they can


    > Ad hominem abuse, and straw man.

    False. You do support censorship. For example, you support a woman to be fired because she handled one pamphlet to a _colleague_, a _receptionist_, who _didn’t complain_. That is ideological censorship.

  • Fides_et_Ratio

    > Yet you advocate hurting women.


    > “You advocated forcing a raped
    nine-year-old girl through pregnancy and childbirth on the grounds that
    she might survive.”

    False. Your “might” is simply trolling.
    And you advocate two completely innocent unborn babies to be dismembered alive, then thrown away as medical trash, because of the crime of their father. 

  • Fides_et_Ratio

    > “The NHS is a non-governmental organisation”


    From Wikipedia:

    “The National Health Service (NHS) is the shared name of three of the four publicly funded healthcare systems in the United Kingdom. They are primarily funded through general taxation rather than requiring insurance payments.”

  • Fides_et_Ratio

    > “You have made an assertion, that the Catholic Church considers it OK to perform an abortion if doing so saves the woman’s life.”

    Straw man. You put words in my mouth. The Church teaches that _all_ direct abortions are unacceptable enormously evil, no exception.

    I said that it is permissible, under certain extreme situations, to induce early labor, with all care to try saving both patients. That is not an abortion.

  • Fides_et_Ratio

     False. You consistently put words in my mouth and attack that, instead of replying to what I have actually said.

    For example, you invented that I support mutilating healthy women. You made that up because you could not answer my point.

  • Jae

    By your assertion as “continued good health of individual” do you mean killing and terminating the Life of scientifically proven another human being in the womb of another human being?

  • Jae

    The first stage of genocide is stripping the person of his dignity according to the manual of the Nazis. In order to justify their lust for blood, they stripped the Jewish people of their dignity by calling them sub-humans, the pro abortion people like this guy, stripped the scientifically proven another human being in the womb of another, calling it as a clump of cells, not a human being.

    When is the last time you saw a pregnant relative and asked her, “How is your clump of cells? Or your fetus?”

  • Jae

    Just a mere 4 days late of the mother’s last menstrual cycle, the baby ( sorry to offend you by calling it a baby not a clump of cells) has a heart. Scientifically and medically proven to be another distinct human being, NOT just a part or clump of cells but with separate heart, kidneys, lungs etc. When is the last time you saw a person with 2 hearts and 4 eyes?

    Nazis stripped the Jewish people of their dignity by calling them first sub-humans in order to justify their lust for blood thus genocide of 6 million, pro abortion like you, stripped the baby in the womb as a person with dignity calling it as clump of cells thus the genocide to the tune of 40 million deaths a year, making the jewish holocaust a walk in the park.

  • Jae

    Beside the fact that most probably you were once a fetus (baby) yourself, how would you like to be strangled slowly, shredded to pieces then suck by a vacuum cleaner and disposed off to the common garbage bin, Mr. Edinburgh?

    Medically proven that the fetus you are calling,that they respond and listen to their mother’s voice, touch even external music, experience pain and suffering to any form of outside stimuli. Why don’t you watch the “silent scream” or any YouTube video about the horrors of abortion?

  • EdinburghEye

    The first stage of genocide is stripping the person of his dignity according to the manual of the Nazis

    Are we to assume that since pro-lifers strip women of their dignity, that is the first step in committing misogynist genocide?

    The Nazis believed, as rigidly as a prolifer could desire, that a woman’s body was the property of the state: Nazi legislation denied German citizens access to abortion and contraception. They were, in the sense used in the past 30 years, “Pro-life”.

  • Jae

    When is it called a health care by killing and terminating medically proven of another person? By medical morality and standard of Dr. Mengele, yes Jewish people are not humans but sub-humans thus alright to experiment, abort and kill them to the tune of 6 million Jews. By the medical standard of pro abortion like Dr. Edinburgh here, the person in the womb is just called a clump of cells or sub-humans, so terminate it to the tune of 45million deaths a year. No difference in their justification and lust of blood. Whatever you do evil (negative) you will pay for it one way or the other (positive) in this life or the atheistic life you are in. Even in the physical realm you atheists believed, there is always positive and negative, and you Dr. Mengele and Dr. Edinburgh will see the day of your negativity and justice. The difference Dr. Edinburgh, you still have time and have the chance to spend it wisely for it won’t last long!

  • EdinburghEye

    I mean performing abortion so that a scientifically-proven human being, with a heart-beat and fingernails and everything, shall remain alive and well.

    I mean concern for the woman: not reducing her to an object containing a uterus.

  • EdinburghEye

      I didn’t say ‘women’ were murdering their babies; I said the NHS were.

    *raises eyebrow*

    So a woman who goes to her GP, says “I’m pregnant and I need an abortion,” is promptly referred to the local specialist, and has her pregnancy aborted – that woman, in your eyes, is not “murdering her baby” as so many prolifers say it – the entire guilt is transferred, in your view, to the doctor who refers and the specialist who carried out the abortion?


    And no, I’m not homosexual. I like women very much.

    I find that gay men tend not to be, as a group, nearly as misogynistic as pro-lifers.

  • EdinburghEye

      However as far as I know abortion is never needed to save a mother’s life.

    Well, now you know better.

    there is always the choice of a caesarean.

    So you don’t see it as evil to force a raped child to carry to term – or to insist that instead of an abortion, she undergoes a major operation?

  • EdinburghEye

     The Church teaches that _all_ direct abortions are unacceptable enormously evil, no exception.

    That’s what I thought, and that’s what I’ve always said.

    I said that it is permissible, under certain extreme situations, to
    induce early labor, with all care to try saving both patients. That is
    not an abortion.

    Interesting. So in efffect, the Catholic “pro-life” position is indeed pro-death – it doesn’t matter if the pregnant woman dies.

  • Jae

    Your logical reasoning is astounding, how in the world is it consider stripping of women’s dignity when we are defending the basic of basic human rights? Defending life itself! Life by itself is dignity, the supreme dignity of every man, without life there is no women rights, no dignity to talk about, do you get the drip, Dr. Edinburgh?

    Beside the fact you analogy is greatly flawed, the Nazis see the stripping as an end to end life itself, we see your so called “stripping” as to save a life itself? Do you get the difference between savagery and mercy?

  • EdinburghEye
  • Jae

    By “health and well being of women” you mean the great majority are not prepared as being parents or burdensome to one’s lifestyle, right? This is an old tired argument used to justify the killing plain and simple. In fact Dr. Edinburg that is exactly the reason for 99% of abortions NOT the health of the women. You just easily believed in the lies and brainwashing by the liberal media is feeding you.

  • Jae

    So you also agree that the “clump of cells” is medically and scientifically proven as another human being? If we both agree that the mother and the person she is carrying in her womb as medically and scientifically proven 2 distinct human beings, then killing the other in order for the other to live in to live in lifestyle of her choosing (great majority of the reason why they abort anyways).

    The End does NOT justify the Means.

  • Fides_et_Ratio

     Bald faced straw-man again.

  • theroadmaster

    Your answer is an unfunny parody of what real healthcare should be.  Yeah”legal, safe and accessible” for those who want it, but not so “safe” for  the unborn child, is it?

  • theroadmaster

    A foetus is still human life at an early development stage, and if allowed to develop without being bludgeoned or dismembered, a human with potential and not a potential human, can live the life God has given to him or her.

  • Sweetjae

    It’s not opinion, yours is, JB24, ours is the Teachings of the Church.  But yours,  well, you just follow whatever you think is right  that will fit your idea of what the Church and God is.

  • Sweetjae

    This idea that abortion and killing the unborn is women’s right is so twisted
    and diabolical! So defending the basic of the basic human rights, which is
    defending the very essence of Life itself is considered “stripping” of women’s

    Life itself is the most supreme of rights and

    Hello, without the right to life, there is no women’s rights, no
    talk about rights and dignity itself, do you get the drip, Mr. Edinburgh?

  • theroadmaster

    With the right professional counselling, a pregnant woman can overcome mental trepidation or depression concerning the carrying of a child in her womb.  If she does not desire the child, adoption is an agreeable option.  Abortion is not a moral answer to failed contraception which is one of the major global reasons for women resorting to abortion.  Radical lobbyists in the US want to classify the Obama healthcare mandate covering insurance policies for “reproductive” procedures, as a “health” issue.  The majority of right-thinking people recognize this for the ruse that it is, as fertility is one of the surest signs of vigorous health in relation to her reproductive state.

  • Sweetjae

    There is really NO difference between our atheistic friend, EdinburghEye and JByrnes24. Well at least EdinburghEye is being true to his word however, JByrnes24 is claiming to be Catholic yet he willfully and knowingly reject basic Catholic Teaching, very illogical and dishonest. 

    It just boogles one’s mind on why he’s staying as Catholic and not to the Anglicans, Lutherans, Congregationalists etc, who would gladly accept his idea which they also similarly espoused…hmmm.

  • bernadette

    How long before teachers get sacked for teaching what marriage means ? 

  • Jae

    Right on the mark! I don’t understand these people of JByrnes type. If you wanted to join any country club or group you have to abide by their rules and bylaws. If you reject one then the group has the right to reject you. Similarly, If Mr. JByrne24 claiming to be catholic, he should abide by its rules and teachings, if not he is just being illogical and dishonest to himself. At the end of the day, God with His Church will reject him too! Sad believing just in himself.

  • theroadmaster

    I wish you and your wife the best of health and happiness but take issue with a lot of your interpretations of Catholic doctrine and moral stances.  Advocates of one side or another should be able to argue without resorting to insulting, ad hominem attacks on one another.

  • Let it be…..

    This is only going to get worse. I’ve come to realise after reading the bible one night, let these non- believers ride in their fast cars. They can’t see the huge brick wall that they are heading for! They travel in darkness and until THEY accept Christ as their saviour that wide unlit road will destroy and send them to the heart of their evil acts and evil beliefs …..Satan. These people include pro-killers, woman who kill their unborn innocent little children if they do not repent and change their ways. Also gays who commit the dirty vile acts, who defile marraige and fight for it and believe its for them. Atheists, homosexual activists who are litterally forcing their vile ways of life on us Christians and the agressivness of pro killers within the nhs and government forcing us to hide our crosses, deny our core beliefs, take part in killing a life and now sack professionals for handing a leaflet entailing the harsh truth of reality were abortion is concerned. The grief and guilt that will engulf the oh so poor woman who killed her child. They and so many sadly of humanity will gravely on their deathbed regret their ways for when their eyes close for the final time, the lord will appear and he will cast his judgement on their soul. Let us Christians not hate the sinners but pray for them, let them shout to the sky but let us pray in silence, pray for their forgiveness let us rise above their evil ways and not argue or try change their mind …god would never force then to belief and change and sadly as so many ask ‘ why is there suffering’ well it’s because the lord needs to reap the good from the harvest of humanity…..and because we have free will. Let them have their so called marraige, it’s like buying a replica designer handbag, I could pretend to everyone is the real deal there is no flaw in it look, but I deep down Would know its fake, it’s cheap and tacky and that I’m lying. Well just as I would know, we Christians know that ssm is fake, tacky and false and more importantly gid will know. Let these women who in 90% of cases are promiscus or uneducated or just careless and fall pregnant with no regard for that life they created in the act, no regard for the dads feelings of course they don’t even get a look in! They kill this life they carelessly created! And they never repent to god for killing the soul he blessed that child with and for sending that child to the furnace in a hospital it’s sick! But let them at their own souls peril! For the lord will be the last person they see……let us Pray they change. Let us pray these people who are faithless and come on a catholic website to wind us up find true faith. Let us take our sufferings and our cross and walk with Christ. Let us pray for the unborn children to forgive their mothers and for their mothers to hold them in heaven. Christ told us the path with him is narrow and persecution we will face. He told us that like he was persecuted so would we, for there is evill on earth and we don’t have that power to change that sadly. I love Jesus and I know he will forgive all the above people’s if they truly turn to him, accept him and walk with him. God bless.

  • JabbaPapa

    I didn’t “pretend”. I really thought that he meant “gal” for girl.


  • JabbaPapa

    These are uncatholic opinions.

    Shame !!!!

  • JabbaPapa

    Your entire position constitutes intellectual abuse.

  • JabbaPapa

    Do you understand the difference between a statement of general truth, and such statements of gross hypocrisy that you are wont to provide ?

  • EdinburghEye

    (Responding further up to avoid narrowed thread)

    When you make a pregnant woman’s body the property of the state, and legislate that she has no right to decide for herself whether to terminate or continue the pregnancy – no matter what risk it presents to her health or her life – then you strip away her dignity and her human rights.

    And women die, as a direct result.

  • EdinburghEye

     Chile has one of the strongest anti-abortion legislations of Latin America


    I presume you are basing your conclusion that the drop in maternal mortality in Chile was in any way related to making women have illegal abortions, on the seriously flawed Koch report. Analysis here:

    Note that the key reason for the drop in the number of abortions in Chile is the promotion of family planning – more and more women in Chile have access to contraception, so fewer unplanned pregnancies occur, so fewer illegal abortions need happen.

  • EdinburghEye

    Scientifically and medically a woman is proven to be another distinct human being, NOT just a part or clump of cells with a uterus but with separate heart, kidneys,

    Why then are you so unconcerned about the woman?

  • EdinburghEye

     Ms Edinburgh, please.

    Jae, if my mum had decided to have an abortion when she realised she was pregnant with me, I would never have known about it – there would never have been an “I” to know.

    Because my mum is prochoice, I know I was a wanted baby.

    Why is it that prolifers believe women have to be forced – that if women are given the choice, women won’t choose to have wanted babies?

  • EdinburghEye

     Much safer for children to be born to women who wanted and chose to have a baby.

    Or does your concern for children stop once they’re born?