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Lori Gregory and her daughter in 2012 (Twitter)

Unfair dismissal?

Former pro-choice activist fired by Catholic charity — on International Women’s Day

March 9, 2017

While Women around the world were celebrating International Women’s Day on Wednesday, Lori Gregory was being fired from her job as program director of Hope Haven, a Catholic-run children’s crisis mental health facility in Jackson, Mississippi. The reason for her dismissal? She used to volunteer at an abortion clinic and speak publicly about her support for the pro-choice agenda. The unexpected news came after Gregory’s previous justice work was cited in a magazine article for Find It Fondren’s recent women’s issue.

The article, titled “Stand Up, Be Heard,” praised Gregory for her ongoing social-advocacy work, the Op-Ed columns she used to write under a pseudonym and her vocal opposition to Mississippi’s 2011 anti-abortion law known as the “personhood” amendment, alongside her volunteer work at the Jackson Women’s Health Organization. For Gregory’s employers at the Catholic diocese, her work around abortion was unacceptable and violated the Church’s code of ethics.

Gregory had formerly been warned about her pro-choice advocacy work in 2013, following an Op-Ed she wrote for Slate about her experience as an escort at Mississippi’s last abortion clinic. As part of the mandatory conditions of her employment, she was asked to stop speaking out in favor of abortion rights and to end her volunteer work at the clinic. Having spent two years involved directly with social justice work with women, Gregory was devastated at having to terminate her volunteering work, but desperately needed the job and its accompanying health care provisions, so she quit immediately.

It is for this reason that Gregory now refuses to be dismissed from her job silently. Having given up the justice work she loved in order to work for Hope Haven, Gregory believes her dismissal is unfair and the result of a confusion with the Find It Fondren journalist, who seemed to believe her pro-choice advocacy work was ongoing. Unfortunately for Gregory, federal anti-discrimination law permits religious organizations to discriminate on religious grounds. If someone fails to comply with core Church doctrines, then they may legitimately be terminated, according to the law.

Speaking to The Guardian, Gregory, a single mother, said she would explain the news to her 7-year-old daughter by telling her “I lost my job because I believed in something.”

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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