Labour Court clarifies freedoms of religion and conscience in healthcare sector

Wistrand International Law Office

Jörgen Larsson

Introduction

Sweden is one of the most secular countries in the world with full freedom of religion. Further, freedom of conscience is a right protected by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). However, domestic law recognises no right to conscientious objection. In this respect, Sweden differs from most other European countries.

In 2017 the Labour Court clarified from an employment law perspective whether freedom of conscience gives healthcare professionals a right to conscientious objection.

Facts

A midwife expressed that her religious beliefs forbid her from performing abortion services. When she expressed her opinion, three different healthcare regions in Sweden refused to employ her. The midwife brought the case to the Equality Ombudsman, which found that her refusal to perform abortion services was a manifestation of her religious beliefs and was thus protected by Article 9 of the ECHR. The Equality Ombudsman also found that the healthcare regions’ requirement that the midwife perform abortion services was reasonable and motivated by social interests in order to secure women’s effective access to abortion services. Therefore, the midwife’s freedom of religion had not been violated. . . . Full Text

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]