JÖNKÖPING COUNTY, Sweden (BP) — A district court in Sweden recently ruled against midwife Ellinor Grimmark, who was denied employment at four hospitals because she refuses to participate in abortions.
In November 2013, Höglandssjukhuset Women’s Clinic in Jönköping County rescinded its job offer to Grimmark after she said she could not perform abortions because of her conscientious objection and her Christian faith.
The head of the maternity ward left a voicemail saying “she was no longer welcome to work with them.” Grimmark filed a religious discrimination complaint with Sweden’s Equality Ombudsman. While waiting for a ruling, two other employers also refused to hire her because of her pro-life stance. A fourth potential employer offered to hire Grimmark as a temporary employee, but withdrew the offer after her complaint went public.
“As a midwife, I want to exercise a profession which defends life and saves lives at all cost,” Grimmark said in a statement printed in the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet. “Somebody has to take the little children’s side, somebody has to fight for their right to life.”
In April 2014, the Equality Ombudsman ruled Grimmark did not have a case because the hospital refused her the position “not because of her religion, but because she was not prepared to perform duties that were part of the job description,” bosnewslife.com reported at the time.
Grimmark appealed the ruling but on Nov. 12, the court ruled against Grimmark, stating employers have the right to define job descriptions and expect applicants to be willing to fulfill all the duties listed. It also found it was appropriate and necessary to require midwives to perform abortions because “the region has an obligation to ensure that women have effective access to abortion.”
Grimmark will appeal the decision to Sweden’s Göta Court of Appeal.
“Freedom of conscience is a fundamental human right,” said Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers attorney Jörgen Olson. “To deny freedom of conscience to all health care workers in Sweden cannot be considered a measure necessary in a democratic society.”