Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Midwife lodges legal challenge against a Swedish County Council for denial of her right to freedom of conscience and religion on abortion.

Ruth Nordstrom of Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers, reports that a lawsuit has been filed against the Swedish Government on the right to freedom of conscience and religion for a midwife who has been refused employment because of her conscientious objection to abortion.
Jönköping County Council's decisions constitute an interference with the exercise of Mrs Ellinor Grimmarks right to freedom of conscience and religion under the European Convention on Human Rights, says Ruth Nordstrom, Legal Counsel and President of Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers. – The County Council has supported the withdrawals of offered job positions as a midwife at three different hospitals, and set up an obligation to perform abortions as a condition for employment as a midwife. This is a requirement that puts persons of a certain religion or other beliefs in a discriminatory position. The filed lawsuit argues in favour of midwife Ellinor Grimmark and claims that the District Court determines that the County Council acted wrongly by refusing Mrs Grimmark the promised jobs and claims compensation for damages by 80 000 SEK and compensation for discrimination by 60 000 SEK.

Emeritus Professor of Labour Law at Lund University, Mr. Reinhold Fahlbeck, Senior Legal Counsel at Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers, points out that “if this case is brought to the European Court of Human Rights, Sweden will lose. There is a proper consensus among the Council of Europe Member States to allow freedom of conscience for health care workers regarding abortion and euthanasia and the scope for national deviations is very small in this case.

Roger Kiska, Senior Legal Counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom Europe, says "in a civil society, in this day and age, it is shocking that we are denying one of the most fundamental of human rights, the right to conscience. A society has truly lost its way when it excludes someone from the healthcare profession merely because they want to bring human life into the world rather than destroying it. We are confident that the Swedish courts will rule in Mrs. Grimmark's favour, in favour of decency, and in favour of human rights."

For more information, please contact:
Legal Counsel Ruth Nordstrom
President, Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers.