Mississippi pro-choice activist fired on International Womens Day

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Lori Gregory lost her position at Hope Haven, a childrens crisis mental health facility: Id rather go down for something I believe in

Catholic Charities fired a Mississippi employee on International Womens Day for discussing her former pro-choice advocacy work in a recent publication article.

Lori Gregory is the former program administrator of Hope Haven, a childrens crisis mental health facility in Jackson, Mississippi. Hope Haven furnishes free counseling for at-risk teens without private insurance, many of whom are in foster care. Gregory had worked for Catholic Charities since 2002, beginning as a volunteer and working her behavior up to program administrator. She was fired accidentally Wednesday morning during a meeting with the local bishop, in reaction to a feature article in Find It Fondrens recent womens issue.

Entitled Stand up, Hear anything, the article lauded Gregorys social-advocacy work, her old op-ed editorial( penned under a pseudonym ), and her outspoken opposition to Missississippis 2011 anti-abortion legislation Proposition 26, which, the article claimed, threaten[ ed] Gregorys beliefs. The article then commended her volunteer work at the Jackson Womens Health Organization, a local abortion clinic.

Her employers at the Catholic diocese quoth the article as a violation of the churchs code of ethics in a termination letter that they presented her during this mornings meeting.

If Ive got to go down, Id rather go down for something I really, really believe in, Gregory mentioned. Now the International Womens Day thing is just the Band-Aid of irony on it.

Gregory had been warned about making pro-choice statements before. In 2013, she wrote an op-ed article for Slate about her work at the Jackson Womens Health Center. Her employers reprimanded her for the article and induced her promise to stop speaking out in favor of abortion rights and to objective her volunteer work at the abortion clinic. These words were presented as mandatory conditions of employment.

Gregory agreed to stop. It transgressed my nerve. It was one of my most favorite things to do, she mentioned. I spent two years of my life intensively to participate in social justice work with women here And it was a great exuberance of mine but I likewise knew that I needed to have a undertaking.

And at the time, I was having some health issues. I needed to have insurance. All the regular stuff that you need as an American. I was not in a position to give up my employment so I elected to no longer write or do the justice run or do my job. And I was very sad about it for a very long time. Which is why this time, Im not going to be quiet. Gregory also said Hope Haven was the only provider in Mississippi that offered crisis services to kids without private insurance.

The article in Find it Fondrens says that Gregory still escorts women at the abortion clinic, but she tells she stopped volunteering after her talk with her foremen in 2013, which Gregory imagines was a misunderstanding with the columnist. She believes its unjust that an article mentioning her previous pro-choice advocacy run could be grounds for termination.

Maureen Smith, the communications administrator for the Catholic diocese of Jackson, would not comment specifically on Gregorys termination. But she mentioned staff members of the Catholic Church were expected to follow the churchs core teachings.

As a faith, we are a pro-life entity. When you work for the Catholic Church, you work for the church in all aspects. There is a pro-life ethic in everything we do. I dont know how you can work for the Catholic Church and be a part of a pro-life ethic and be in conflict with it at the same period, Smith mentioned. Why would you do that? If I was walking around saying things against faith teaches, thats hypocritical and thats problematic.

Robert Tuttle, a law prof at George Washington University, mentioned federal anti-discrimination law allowed religion organizations to discriminate based on the results of belief. Courtrooms have had some uncertainties and the issue of what it means to discriminate based on the results of belief, but one of the things they have done is defer strongly to the core doctrines and beliefs of the organization, and if someone is not in compliance with them, then they may be terminated, he said.

Gregory is a single mother with a seven-year-old daughter. Shes not worried about telling her daughter about her firing.

I think that I will just tell her that I lost my job because I believed in something, Gregory mentioned. And there are a few things that I know that she believes in real strongly as well. First one is that girls are awesome. And I think that if she knows that about me, then thats a good thing. But I likewise had a mother that strolled out of a job in the 70 s due to a pay-gap issue. So I had a good model.

The Catholic diocese had reaffirmed that Hope Haven would continue to operate.

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