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Swedish midwife turns to Human Rights Court

Midwife Ellinor Grimmark files case in Strasbourg today seeking right ot conscientious objection to abortion for healthcare providers

Today, on 14 June, Christian midwife Ellinor Grimmark filed her application with the European Court of Human Rights against Sweden. Mrs. Grimmark had to seek work in another country because she refused to participate in abortions. The Swedish courts have failed to recognize her right to conscientious objection. She is the only midwife who has suffered at the hands of the Swedish authorities. Linda Steen was also denied a job as a midwife because she refused to participate in abortions.

“I chose the midwifery profession because I wanted to help bring life into this world. 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,” explained Ellinor Grimmark during a media background briefing in Strasbourg today.

A high price to pay

Three different medical clinics had refused to employ Mrs. Grimmark because she would not assist with abortions in light of her convictions about the dignity of all human life. On 12 April 2017, the Swedish Labour Court of Appeal refused to protect freedom of conscience and found that Mrs. Grimmark’s rights had not been violated.

It required her to pay the local government’s legal costs, amounting to more than EUR 150,000. ADF International filed an expert brief in support of her case, highlighting the protection for freedom of conscience that exists under international law.

Precedent-setting case

“Ellinor Grimmark’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,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International.

“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, states should look to safeguard the moral convictions of medical staff.”

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