Jönköping – From 24 to 27 January, the Labour Court of Appeal will hear the case of Swedish midwife, Ellinor Grimmark. Three different medical clinics in the district of Jönköping had refused to employ Mrs. Grimmark because she would not assist with abortions in light of her religious convictions. However in November 2015, a district court found that Ms. Grimmark’s right to freedom of conscience had not been violated and awarded substantial costs against her.
“Nobody should be forced to choose between following their conscience and pursuing their profession. Sweden is a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights and it should take its obligation to protect citizens’ freedom of conscience seriously. Citizens’ deeply held convictions should be accommodated by their employers,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International.
Respect for moral convictions of medical staff
ADF International filed an expert brief in support of the appeal, highlighting the protection for freedom of conscience that exists under international law. In particular, the brief referenced a resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which categorically states that “no person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia or any act which could cause the death of a human foetus or embryo, for any reason.”
“Being required to participate in abortions should not be a requirement for employment as a midwife,” added Clarke. “The desire to protect life is what leads many midwives and nurses to enter the medical profession in the first place. Employers should respect that desire and look to safeguard the moral convictions of their staff.”