In a puzzling twist of irony, a social worker was fired from a Catholic organization on International Women’s Day for her contributions to women’s rights advocacy.
Catholic Charities is a non-profit that works to “reduce poverty in America,” but on Wednesday they let Lori Gregory go from their Mississippi-based Hope Haven mental health facility for children, Raw Story reports. She had been with the organization since 2002.
According to her termination letter, Gregory was accused of violating the Church’s code of ethics due to her opposition to the state of Mississippi’s Personhood Amendment.
The 2011 legislation would have defined fertilized eggs as people, which would have led to a ban on abortion and stricter guidelines on birth control, in vitro fertilization, and medical research. Gregory took a pro-choice stance on the issue.
“As a church, we are a pro-life entity. When you work for the Catholic Church, you work for the church in all aspects,” said Maureen Smith, communications director for the Catholic diocese of Jackson. “There is a pro-life ethic in everything we do. I don’t 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 time.” “Why would you do that? If I was walking around saying things against church teachings, that’s hypocritical and that’s problematic.”
Gregory detailed her position on the measure in a piece titled “Stand Up, Be Heard” published by Find it in Fondren. The social worker said that she was inspired by her daughter.
“I want to teach her that even though you don’t always get what you want, you do not have to be a victim to the system. You can at least stand up and be heard,” she said.
Despite losing her job over her activism, Gregory said she holds true to her beliefs.
“If I’ve got to go down, I’d rather go down for something I really, really believe in,” Gregory told The Guardian. “Now the International Women’s Day thing is just the Band-Aid of irony on it.”
A “Band-Aid of irony” it is indeed, considering her termination occurred on a day when women throughout the nation were striking and marching to protect the very rights that the Personhood Amendment threatened.
This setback may put a financial strain on Gregory’s life, but it could also lead to an employment opportunity that allows her to freely express and advocate for her beliefs.
As the old saying goes: when one door closes, another opens.