Can midwives be pro-life? Apparently not in Sweden.
Catholic News Agency Apr 19, 2017
Stockholm, Sweden, Apr 18, 2017 / 02:28 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Swedish midwife who refused to perform abortions has lost another court decision, but her supporters say the court neglected her freedom of conscience.
“The desire to protect life is what leads many midwives and nurses to enter the medical profession in the first place,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International. “Instead of forcing desperately needed midwives out of their profession, governments should safeguard the moral convictions of medical staff.”
Religious freedom advocates argue that midwives – who specialize in pregnancy and childbirth – often choose their profession because they want to bring new life into the world, and they should not be forced to end life against their beliefs. Midwife Ellinor Grimmark charged that three different medical clinics in Sweden’s southern Joenkoeping County unjustly denied her employment because of her objections to assisting in abortions.
In November 2015, a district court said her right to freedom of opinion and expression was not violated. She was required to pay the local government’s legal costs, nearly $106,000. A labor court sided with the district court and against the midwife on April 12. Grimmark is considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. ADF International has filed a brief in support of her case.
Clarke said that Sweden, as a member state of the Council of Europe, is obliged to respect the council’s Parliamentary Assembly. The assembly has said that no person shall be coerced or discriminated against “in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist, or submit to an abortion.”
“Participation in abortions should not be a requirement for employment as a medical professional,” added Clarke. “In accordance with international law, the court should have protected Ellinor’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience.”
BBC News, citing United Nations data, says that Sweden has one of the highest abortion rates in Europe, with 20.8 per 1,000 women in 2011.