Midwife must assist abortionists, Swedish court rules

by Kelly Ledbetter |

(Google Maps / SCREEN SHOT)Jönköpings Tingsrätt, Sweden

JONKOPING, Sweden (Christian Examiner) – A Swedish district court ruled on Nov. 11 against midwife Ellinor Grimmark's request not to be forced to assist in abortions in her workplace.

Grimmark was unjustly denied employment at three medical facilities because she could not assist in abortions according to her Christian faith and conscience, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) explained in a press release.

"We are disappointed the court did not affirm Swedish law and international law to which Sweden is obligated and that both recognize freedom of conscience in the workplace. Medical facilities should not force midwives to violate their conscience by requiring them to assist in abortion."
- Roger Kiska, Senior Legal Counsel, ADF International

ADF International filed an expert brief with the district court to argue in Grimmark's support; while the court agreed that Grimmark's right to follow her religious conscience had been infringed, it "erroneously concluded that forcing her to participate in abortions that others demand is more important," ADF said.

Roger Kiska, senior counsel and deputy director of ADF International in Vienna, filed the brief, in which he called Grimmark's dismissal "a troubling development" that was "out of step with the rest of Europe" in failing to accommodate her conscientious objections.

"Such a blatant disregard for rights of conscience cannot be allowed to stand in Sweden," Kiska wrote.

Regarding the district court's decision, Kiska said, "No one deserves to suffer discrimination and be denied employment because their conscience does not allow them to perform abortions."

Grimmark was offered a job as a midwife at Höglandssjukhuset women's clinic in November 2013, but the offer was withdrawn when she said she would not perform abortions because of her faith.

After being denied employment at one clinic, Grimmark was also denied at Ryhovs women's clinic, which told her someone with her objections to abortion does not belong at such a place. Then, Värnamo Hospital's women's clinic rescinded an employment offer, saying its employees were not allowed to be antiabortion.

Kiska added, "We are disappointed the court did not affirm Swedish law and international law to which Sweden is obligated and that both recognize freedom of conscience in the workplace. Medical facilities should not force midwives to violate their conscience by requiring them to assist in abortion."

Grimmark, who is working at a clinic in Norway where her conscientious objection to perform abortions is respected, is represented by the group Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers, ADF said.

The expert brief concluded: "[A] State must seek to accommodate religious and moral beliefs no matter how irksome it finds them. This notion stems from the reluctance of European civilization – born of decency, forbearance, and tolerance – to compel our fellow citizens to humiliate themselves by betraying their own consciences."

ADF International Legal Counsel Robert Clarke said, "Being pro-abortion should not be a requirement for employment as a midwife. The desire to protect life is what leads many midwives and nurses to enter the medical profession in the first place. Medical centers should respect that desire and conviction."

Grimmark intends to appeal the district court's decision.