No room in Sweden for a pro-life midwife

A Swedish midwife vows to continue her battle for the right to refuse to participate in abortion.

OneNewsNow

Charlie Butts

Elinor Grimmark, a midwife,  has stated that she chose the profession to help bring life into the world.

Sweden slammed the door on her career when Grimmark, a Christian, refused to participate in abortion on moral and ethical grounds. . . [Full text]

 

Doctors who conscientiously object to providing euthanasia referrals should not be forced to do so

National Post

Barbara Kay

From June 12 to 15, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice heard legal arguments relating to conscience rights for doctors in Ontario. Five doctors and three physicians’ organizations want the court to declare portions of policies created by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) a violation of doctors’ rights enshrined in the Charter. A decision is expected later this year.

CPSO, the respondent in the case, has stated they may suspend or sanction a doctor that refuses to participate in an assisted suicide, which they — duplicitously in my opinion — call “medical aid in dying” (MAID). Euthanasiasts prefer the euphemism because “aid in dying” sounds softer and gentler than “kill.” But the true definition of MAID is palliative care, whose future as a medical discipline has been thrown into uncertainty by the CPSO’s bullish stance on assisted suicide.

The CPSO’s conscience-hostile position is both unnecessary and unjust. . .  [Full text]

 

Swedish midwife turns to European Court of Human Rights

News Release

Alliance Defending Freedom

STRASBOURG, France – A Christian midwife filed her application with the European Court of Human Rights Wednesday against Sweden. Elinor Grimmark had to seek work in another country because she refused to participate in abortions. Because the Swedish courts have failed to recognize her freedom of conscientious objection, she is asking the European court to hear her case, Grimmark v. Sweden.

“The desire to help bring life into this world is what leads many midwives and nurses to enter the medical profession in the first place. Instead of forcing desperately needed midwives out of a profession, governments should look to safeguard the moral convictions of medical staff,” said ADF International Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke. “Ellinor’s case could determine whether people who value life at all stages of development will be able to pursue a medical career in the future. Sweden has failed to protect this midwife’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience guaranteed by international law.”

Three different medical clinics had refused to employ Grimmark because she would not assist with abortions in light of her convictions about the dignity of all human life. On April 12, the Swedish Labour Court of Appeal refused to protect her freedom of conscience and instead found that Grimmark’s rights had not been violated.

The court required her to pay the local government’s legal costs, amounting to more than 150,000 euros. ADF International filed an expert brief in support of her case with the Swedish court, highlighting the protection for freedom of conscience that exists under international law.

“I chose the midwifery profession because I wanted to help bring life into this world,” explained Grimmark during a media background briefing in Strasbourg Wednesday. “I cannot understand why the Swedish government refuses to accommodate my conscientious convictions. I am now working in Norway, where my conscience is respected, but no one can explain why Sweden cannot do the same.”


ADF International is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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Midwife loses freedom of conscience case, will appeal Swedish law to not be forced to perform abortions

Global Dispatch

Butter Braco

A Christian midwife is appealing her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) after she was denied employment opportunities due to her views regarding abortion.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is supporting Ellinor Grimmark of Sweden, arguing that various places of employment infringed on her freedom of conscience in their refusal to hire her due to her views on abortion.

In November 2013, a job offer Grimmark received from a women’s clinic was withdrawn after it became known that she opposed abortion. A similar scenario occurred in 2014.

Grimmark took her case to court in 2015, but the District Court of Jönköping ruled that freedom of conscience could only be invoked when a person is not religious. . . [Full text]

 

Swedish midwife opposed to abortion appeals to European Court of Human Rights

Michael Cook*

Swedish midwife Ellinor Grimmark has decided to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights over Sweden’s hard line on conscientious objection.  The Swedish Appeals Court decided earlier this month that the government can force medical professionals to perform and cooperate in abortions, or else be forced out of their profession. Because the ruling in Grimmark v. Landstinget i Jönköpings Län appears to contradict international law protecting conscientious objection, Grimmark wants to appeal to Strasbourg. . . .
Full Text

Swedish midwife to take abortion beliefs fight to higher European Court

Fox News

Perry Chiaramonte

The Swedish midwife who lost her legal battle to be exempt from assisting in abortions—an act she has said violates her religious freedom—has decided to push her case to the European Court of Human Rights even though she likely will not return to Sweden.

“In the beginning, I was hoping to stay in Sweden,” Grimmark said in a phone interview with Fox News from her new home in Norway, where she moved two and a half years ago after she was let go from three different hospitals in Sweden. “But we have now made Norway home. I have a job here where they are not concerned with my beliefs.” . . . [Full text]

 

Court Rules Nurse Fired for Refusing to Assist Abortions Must Do Abortions to Keep Her Job

Lifenews

Steve Ertelt

Ellinor Grimmark is a nurse in Sweden who filed a claim that the hospital where she worked discriminated against her because she refused to participate in abortions.

Newly-graduated, Grimmark was fired from her position because she refused to assist abortions. Even though there was a shortage of midwives at the time she was fired and even though she is willing to take on double shifts, she has been denied a job ever since. One employer had first agreed to hire her in spite of the “complication”, but withdrew the offer when her story began to spread in media. . . But a Swedish court ruled today that Grimmark has no choice but to participate in abortions if she wants to keep her job. . . [Full text]

 

Swedish anti-abortion midwife sues officials in job claim

BBC News

A Swedish midwife who refuses to carry out abortions is appealing to a labour tribunal after being turned down for jobs at local clinics three times.

Ellinor Grimmark objects to abortions because of her Christian beliefs. It is seen as a test case, partly because a big US Christian group is backing her.

The US Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a partner of her legal team – Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers.

In 2015 a district court rejected her discrimination complaint.

Ms Grimmark is suing the Joenkoeping regional health authority. The appeal hearing is still under way, and the verdict is expected in a few weeks’ time.

Under the 2015 court ruling, she was ordered to pay the authorities’ legal costs.

Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman also ruled against her. . . [Full text]

 

Growing Intolerance Threatens Rights of Conscience of Health Care Workers

cnsnews.com

Lynn Wardle*

Around the world, policies and actions of many governments and governmental agencies are threatening rights of conscience of health care providers and employees.  These challenges and dangers seem to be increasing.

Recent times have seen numerous high-profile incidents in which nurses, doctors, hospital staff, government employees, and other health care workers are being pressured, required and forced to provide morally-controversial elective procedures (such as non-therapeutic abortions) despite their expressed moral objections to participating in such services. [Full text]

 

Sweden has it all – except freedom of conscience

A court has ruled that abortion rights leave no room for a midwife to be exempted.

Mercatornet

Carolyn Moynihan*

Because of its welfare state and gender equity policies Sweden has become a beacon of progressiveness in everything that affects women. But there is one kind of woman the Scandinavian state seems to have no time for: a health professional who objects to abortion.

Two years ago Ellinor Grimmark completed a midwifery internship at Hoglandssjukhuset women’s clinic in southern Sweden, but because she told the management that she had a conscientious objection to performing abortions, she was denied further employment there.

A voicemail message from the head of the maternity ward informed her that she was “no longer welcome to work with them”, and she was challenged about “whether a person with such views actually can become a midwife.” Her student funding was also cancelled.

Mrs Grimmark was subsequently turned down for employment at another clinic, where she was told that a “person who refuses to perform abortions does not belong at a women’s clinic”.

Finally she was offered a job at the Varnamo Hospital women’s clinic. But by then she had filed a civil rights complaint against the Hoglandssjukhuset clinic with the local Equality Ombudsman, and when the media got wind of it Varnamo withdrew its offer.

These days Mrs Grimmark practices her profession in Norway, where her conscience rights are respected, but her case is by no means closed.

The Ombudsman’s ruling held that she was not being discriminated against for her pro-life views but for not being available to fulfil the job description, thus threatening the “availability of abortion care” and the “protection of health” of patients requiring an abortion in Sweden.

Represented by the organisation Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers, she then took her case against the county where the Hoglandssjukhuset clinic is located to the Jonkoping District Court, at the same time seeking compensation for damages and discrimination – a total of 140,000 Swedish kronas (around $20,000 USD).

Last week that court acknowledged that Mrs Grimmark’s rights had been infringed, but it still ruled against her, saying that maternity centres have the right to define job descriptions and a “duty to ensure that women have effective access to abortion.” The court also ruled that she is liable to pay for the other party’s legal costs, which will amount to more than USD $109,000.

The US-based Alliance Defending Freedom, which filed an amicus brief on behalf of Mrs Grimmark, regards this order as calculated to scare others who might follow her example. Her wages as a midwife are unlikely to measure up to such punishing costs. Her husband has launched an appeal for funds on Facebook.

Strong grounds for appeal

There are, however, solid grounds for an appeal, as her senior counsel, Ruth Nordstrom, has indicated. She said it was disappointing that the lower court had “decided not to examine the right of freedom of conscience according to international law and the European Convention on human rights, at all.”

The fact is that freedom of conscience is a fundamental human right protected by the 1950 European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), signed by Sweden in 1993. Article 9 (2) states:

“Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and, in a democratic society, are necessary with regard to the general public safety or the protection of public order, health or morals or for the protection of other rights and freedoms.”

Is Sweden’s democracy and public health so fragile that it cannot stand the odd health worker being exempted from the grisly business of killing unborn babies?

It’s true that the country seems to have a pressing need for abortion – one in every two women who get pregnant during their lifetime has a termination. This gives Sweden the highest rate in Scandinavia and one of the highest rates in the world – especially among teenagers, who are schooled in birth control rather than abstinence.

Perhaps it is Sweden’s famously liberal sexual culture that makes it so defensive of abortion rights. Writing in National Review in May, Jacob Rudolfsson of the Swedish Evangelical Alliance noted:

* The Swedish Association of Health Professionals has offered no support for Ellinor Grimmark, since it is committed to abortion.

* “Only one hospital has offered her ‘assistance’, and it was for a counsellor to help her ‘overcome her aversion to abortion’ …”

* One local health administrator has declared that he “would gladly stand in the front with a baseball bat to prevent” conscientious objectors working in his hospital.

* Mona Sahlin, the national coordinator against violent extremism, has declared that “one who refuses to participate in abortions is an extreme religious practitioner,” one who is simply “on a different level from the Islamic State”.

Did you get that? A pro-life Swede is just a few notches down from jihadi terrorists, on the same scale.

And yet, says Rudolfsson, when the current Abortion Act was drafted in 1974, assurances were given that medical workers would, for ethical or religious reasons, be able to opt out of participating in abortions. “Forty years later, the consensus has changed.”

‘Consensus’ may carry the day, but whose consensus?

But this freedom-stifling “consensus” actually puts Sweden out of step with a 2010 resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe that states:

“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 would cause the death of a human fetus or embryo, for any reason.”

Clear enough, surely, but Sweden has wriggled around resolution 1763 by arguing that it is “soft law” and that it interferes with its own laws guaranteeing abortion within certain limits. At the same time it argues that a midwife’s participation in abortion is required by the (older) ECHR provision that “the interests and rights of individuals seeking legal medical services are respected, protected and fulfilled.”

Legal battles have also been waged in Scotland, Poland, Croatia and Norway, but according to ADF, even last week’s Swedish court acknowledged that the majority of European states allow for rights of conscience for doctors and nurses.

And according to Swedish legal scholar Reinhold Fahlbeck, the stronger the European consensus, the less wriggle room there is for Sweden — or other holdout states.

That consensus just got stronger with a ruling from Poland’s highest court, the Constitutional Tribunal, last month recognising the rights of all medical staff to not perform abortions, based on their conscience. It further ruled that neither would they be required to refer women seeking abortions to physicians who would perform them.

ADF notes that the Polish ruling “significantly raises the stakes in Ellinor’s case, as a victory could define conscience rights for all European medical workers.”

It would also allow some fresh air to blow through the stifling conformity of Sweden’s sexual culture which depends so heavily – and thoughtlessly, it seems – on extinguishing human life. Even for women’s equality, this is too high a price.


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