A Swedish appeals court ruled Wednesday against a Christian midwife who was forced by the government to choose between performing abortions and her job.
Ellinor Grimmark was blacklisted by the medical community because of her pro-life convictions, despite longstanding Swedish law protecting the conscience rights of medical professionals.
Robert Clarke, director of European advocacy for the Alliance Defending Freedom International, which filed an expert brief in support of Ms. Grimmark, said the Swedish Labour Court of Appeals got this one wrong.
“The Court has failed to protect Ellinor Grimmark’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience despite the clear legal protections that exist in international law,” Mr. Clarke said in a statement. “Some have attempted to frame this case as one that pits one human right against another. However, the only person whose rights have been violated is Ellinor Grimmark.”
Ms. Grimmark is a devout Christian who quit her job as a caterer at age 40 to become a midwife and help bring new life into the world.
She received a stipend from a local Swedish government while completing her studies. As her education was coming to an end in 2013, she informed the hospital where she planned to work of her pro-life views.
A manager responded furiously and said she was no longer welcome at the hospital, Ms. Grimmark said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. He said her stipend would be cut off.
Ms. Grimmark searched for work at other hospitals, but was met with the same response wherever she went. One hospital finally offered her a job, only to rescind it upon learning of her dispute with the first clinic.
She eventually found work in neighboring Norway, where the conscience rights of medical professionals are accommodated. After relocating there permanently with her family to avoid the four-hour commute, Ms. Grimmark has delivered nearly 200 babies so far.
The midwife is now considering whether to appeal the Swedish court’s decision to the European Court of Human Rights, her lawyers said. A decision there would have major implications for conscience rights across the continent.
Mr. Clarke said protecting the moral convictions of medical professionals is imperative.
“The desire to protect life is what leads many midwives and nurses to enter the medical profession in the first place,” he said. “Instead of forcing desperately needed midwives out of a profession, states should look to safeguard the moral convictions of their staff.”
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