A Christian midwife filed her application with the European Court of Human Rights Wednesday against Sweden. Elinor Grimmark had to seek work in another country because she refused to participate in abortions. Because the Swedish courts have failed to recognize her freedom of conscientious objection, she is asking the European court to hear her case, Grimmark v. Sweden.
“The desire to help bring life into this world is what leads many midwives and nurses to enter the medical profession in the first place. Instead of forcing desperately needed midwives out of a profession, governments should look to safeguard the moral convictions of medical staff,” said ADF International Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke. “Ellinor’s case could determine whether people who value life at all stages of development will be able to pursue a medical career in the future. Sweden has failed to protect this midwife’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience guaranteed by international law.”
Three different medical clinics had refused to employ Grimmark because she would not assist with abortions in light of her convictions about the dignity of all human life. On April 12, the Swedish Labour Court of Appeal refused to protect her freedom of conscience and instead found that Grimmark’s rights had not been violated.
The court required her to pay the local government’s legal costs, amounting to more than 150,000 euros. ADF International filed an expert brief in support of her case with the Swedish court, highlighting the protection for freedom of conscience that exists under international law.
“I chose the midwifery profession because I wanted to help bring life into this world,” explained Grimmark during a media background briefing in Strasbourg Wednesday. “I cannot understand why the Swedish government refuses to accommodate my conscientious convictions. I am now working in Norway, where my conscience is respected, but no one can explain why Sweden cannot do the same.”
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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 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.