Midwife Battles for Conscience Rights in Court


The Swedish Labour Court of Appeal has heard the case of a midwife who was sacked because she refused to participate in abortions. Ellinor Grimmark has been refused employment at several hospitals in the Jönköping region because she has declared that abortion is against her conscience and her religious convictions.


Grimmark sued to defend her rights, but in 2015 a district court found that assisting with abortions was part of her job, that her freedom of conscience had not been violated and that she should pay costs of €96,000.


According to Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers and the Alliance Defending Freedom, which are jointly handling Ms Grimmark’s case, Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is Swedish law since 1995, gives everyone the right to freedom of conscience. In a democratic society this is a right which may only be restricted by necessity. But, say her lawyers, no necessity exists: abortions form a very small part of her job, other midwives are available and there are precedents for accommodating Swedish conscientious objectors.


Mia Ahlberg, president of the Swedish Association of Midwives told the BBC that making an exception for Ms Grimmark would destroy the integrity of midwifery and violate women’s rights.


Ms Grimmark has been harshly treated in the media. One politician has called her a religious extremist; another compared her to the footsoldiers of the Islamic State. To keep working she has to cross the border to Norway, spending several days away from her family at a time.

BioEdge. January 28.

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