Court Rules Nurse Fired for Refusing to Assist Abortions Must Do Abortions to Keep Her Job

International   Steven Ertelt   Apr 12, 2017   |   12:27PM    Washington, DC

Ellinor Grimmark is a nurse in Sweden who filed a claim that the hospital where she worked discriminated against her because she refused to participate in abortions.

Newly-graduated, Grimmark was fired from her position because she refused to assist abortions. Even though there was a shortage of midwives at the time she was fired and even though she is willing to take on double shifts, she has been denied a job ever since. One employer had first agreed to hire her in spite of the “complication”, but withdrew the offer when her story began to spread in media.

Grimmark says in a statement to the newspaper Aftonbladet: ”As a midwife, I want to exercise a profession which defends life and saves lives at all cost. Are healthcare practitioners in Sweden to be forced to take part in procedures that extinguish life, at its beginning or final stages? Somebody has to take the little children’s side, somebody has to fight for their right to life. A midwife described to me how she had held an aborted baby in her arms, still alive, and cried desperately for an hour while the baby struggled to breathe. These children do not even have a right to pain relief. I cannot take part in this.”

But a Swedish court ruled today that Grimmark has no choice but to participate in abortions if she wants to keep her job.

The Swedish Appeals Court decided Wednesday that the government can force medical professionals to perform abortions, or else be forced out of their profession. Because the ruling in Grimmark v. Landstinget i Jönköpings Län contradicts international law protecting conscientious objection, Grimmark is now considering whether to take her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

Three different medical clinics unjustly denied Grimmark employment because she will not assist with abortions. In Sweden, midwives are essentially nurses who specialize in pregnancy and child birth.

“Participation in abortions should not be a requirement for employment as a medical professional. In accordance with international law, the court should have protected Ellinor’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience,” said ADF International Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke in a statement to LifeNews after the ruling. “For that reason, Ellinor is considering an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.”

SUPPORT PRO-LIFE NEWS! Please help LifeNews.com with a donation during our Spring fundraising campaign

Three different medical clinics in the district of Jönköping refused to employ Grimmark because she would not assist with abortions in light of her convictions about the dignity of all human life. Despite this, in November 2015, a district court found that her right to freedom of conscience had not been violated. That court required her to pay the local government’s legal costs, amounting to 100,000 euros (the equivalent of nearly $106,000). ADF International filed an expert brief in support of her case, highlighting international protections for freedom of conscience.

“The desire to protect life is what leads many midwives and nurses to enter the medical profession in the first place,” Clarke said. “Instead of forcing desperately needed midwives out of their profession, governments should safeguard the moral convictions of medical staff. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has affirmed that ‘no person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable, or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist, or submit to an abortion.’ As a member state, Sweden must be held to its obligation to respect this freedom.”

In November 2013, Höglandssjukhuset women’s clinic rescinded a job offer as a midwife from Grimmark after she explained that she could not perform abortions because of her conscientious objection and her Christian faith. The head of the maternity ward said that “she was no longer welcome to work with them” and questioned “whether a person with such views actually can become a midwife.” A few months later, Grimmark tried to obtain employment with Ryhovs women’s clinic, which told her that a person who refuses to perform abortions does not belong at a women’s clinic.

In January, Värnamo Hospital’s women’s clinic offered Grimmark a job but then withdrew employment because of the complaint she filed against Höglandssjukhuset in April. The head of the hospital told Grimmark that no employee was allowed to publicly take a stand against abortion. The group Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers represents Grimmark in court.

The ADF International brief filed in the case explained that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has affirmed that “no person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia or any act which could cause the death of a human foetus or embryo, for any reason.”

“Being pro-abortion should not be a requirement for employment as a midwife,” added ADF International Legal Counsel Robert Clarke. “The desire to protect life is what leads many midwives and nurses to enter the medical profession in the first place. Medical centers should respect that desire and conviction.”

ellinorgrimmark2