Swedish court rules Pro-Life midwife can be denied a job for refusing to commit abortions

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Last week, the Swedish Labour Court issued a devastating anti-Life ruling.  The court stated that Pro-Life midwife Ellinor Grimmark was not discriminated against when she was denied work for refusing to participate in abortions.  Grimmark’s case has been years in the making.  She was first denied employment in 2014 when she stated that she could not participate in abortions because of her Christian faith, and several hospitals rescinded employment offers.

Grimmark lost the initial court case and appealed the decision, ultimately to the Swedish Labour Court.  In an anti-Life ruling, the court decided that her freedom of religion and freedom of expression had not been denied when hospitals refused to hire her for the sole reason that she would not assist in committing abortions.  The ruling sets a dangerous precedent for Pro-Lifers in Sweden.  Abortion expressly goes against Grimmark’s religious beliefs, and the hospitals violated her rights in making employment contingent on the controversial issue of taking the Life of a preborn child.  Grimmark’s Pro-Life position is also not strictly religious.  Science demonstrates that Life begins at conception, which inspires secular Pro-Life advocates to oppose abortion.  For the court to say that abortion, which many people recognize as the taking of an innocent Life, is merely “part of the job description” of a medical professional trained to care for women and babies is a threat to all Pro-Lifers in Sweden.

Although the court’s ruling is a disappointing result after the years of legal battles, Grimmark told The Local in a phone interview, “Obviously I’m disappointed about the ruling.  It was expected so it’s something we prepared for.”  She also said, “I’ve spoken about it with my lawyers and I’m going to take it further to the European Court of Human Rights.”

If Grimmark’s case is appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, the decision of the Swedish courts would remain, because the European Court does not have the power to overturn the ruling.  However, the appeal could win compensation for Grimmark.  Currently, she is being ordered to pay some $100,000 in legal fees.

Disturbingly, government officials have voiced tacit approval of the ruling.  According to The Local, Sweden’s Health Minister Gabriel Wikström did not want to comment on the specific case, but offered a general comment, stating to news agency TT, “Refusal to carry out abortions, give out contraception and the like is a refusal to care.”  According to the Health Minister, refusing to cooperate in taking the Life of a preborn child is “a refusal to care.”  Such uncompromising anti-Life rhetoric from a top health official does not bode well for Sweden.

Anti-Life groups are celebrating the court decision.  The head of the anti-Life Swedish sexual education campaign organization RFSU said in a statement, “It’s very important that the Labour Court establishes that abortion is included in midwifery.  A patient’s care needs and wishes should not be steered by medical staff’s refusal to perform certain tasks.”  Once again, abortion is portrayed as simply “part of the job description,” like checking a patient’s blood pressure or following sanitation protocols.  Far from this simplistic description, abortion is unlike any other procedure in a women’s health clinic.  Grimmark did not object to any other job requirement, because abortion is unique.  Abortion ends a Life.  The failure of the court to recognize this basic distinction is a grave miscarriage of justice.

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