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Sweden fails to protect rights of Christian medical staff

Campaigners say the judgment against Ellinor Grimmark contradicts international law protecting conscientious objection.

Three different medical clinics in the district of Jönköping had refused to employ Ms. Grimmark because she would not assist with abortions in light of her convictions about the dignity of all human life.

However, in November 2015, a district court found that Ms. Grimmark's right to freedom of conscience had not been violated.

It required her to pay the local government's legal costs, amounting to 100,000 EUR.

Lorcan Price is a lawyer for the human rights group ADF International.

He tells Premier it goes against a law passed after the Second World War:

"The whole point of the European Convention on Human Rights and conscientous objection was to be able to allow people to object to things they think of as fundamentally wrong.

"I don't think one could say for a single moment that if you oblige people to engage in things they believe to be fundamentally wrong you are giving any consideration to the rights put in that convention in the first place."

He went on to criticise the Swedish health bosses and judges for acting in what he says is an extraordinary manner:

"In the case of this midwife [Ms. Grimmark] there would be nothing more wrong than the taking of human life. And if that isnt something that falls under the convention I dont know what is. I am disappointed the Swedish courts ignored this."

Mr Price went on to say the situation is ludicrous:

"What you have is a situation where an otherwise qualified midwife, able and willing to offer all the services a midwife traditionally offers in a hospital cannot be involved in abortion, as she sees it as the taking of human life.
"Rather than attempting to accomodate her, to work around that one objection, or working in any positive way, she was simply sacked.

"She was told flat out that until she agreed to be involved in the performing of abortions she would not be employed in any hospital in the Swedish health system.

"That is really extraordinary behaviour by the Swedish health authorities and it's flabbergasting that the court backed that up."

Her supporters say that Ms Grimmark faces a huge legal bill and no other option than to appeal. It's believed her lawyers are looking at taking the case to a higher court in Sweden. It is also possible that she will appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, if any appeal in her homeland is unsuccessful.

Mr Price told Premier:

"It is the result of Sweden ignoring their responsibilities under Euopean law.

"We have seen a trend in recent years in other countries, particularly in healthcare, where the rights of doctors or nurses are being eroded.

"What it means is that these individuals, who are pefectly qualified to do this work are being forced to choose between their livelihoods or the taking of life."

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