A Christian midwife who was denied employment because she would not perform abortions, is taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Ellinor Grimmark’s legal action began in 2015 when the District Court of Jönköping stated that the issue of freedom of conscience should only be looked at when a person is not religious.
Earlier this month, her appeal against the decision was rejected by the labour court in Sweden.
Religious liberty organisation ADF International are part of Grimmark’s legal team.
“People should not be punished for making decisions in line with their conscience”, Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke said.
He added that the group “will stand with her until her right to freedom of conscience is properly protected, in accordance with both Swedish and international law”.
Freedom of conscience
Grimmark’s legal team believe that taking the case to the ECHR could set a “huge precedent for freedom of conscience”.
The ECHR cannot overrule the Swedish courts, but it can order compensation to be paid.
The midwife took legal action after three separate medical clinics refused her work because of her conscientious objection to carrying out abortions.
In November 2013, a job offer from a women’s clinic was withdrawn after she told them her views, and the head of the maternity ward questioned “whether a person with such views actually can become a midwife”.
A few months later a similar incident occurred at a different clinic, and in 2014 a job offer at another hospital was withdrawn because Grimmark had filed a complaint against the first clinic.
The head of this hospital said that no employee was allowed to publicly stand against abortion.
In the UK, the Abortion Act 1967 includes a conscientious objection clause allowing doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in abortions.
In 2013, The Court of Session in Edinburgh ruled that two Roman Catholic midwives conscientious objection to abortions meant they had the right to refuse to delegate, supervise or support staff involved in abortions.
But after an appeal by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the UK Supreme Court overturned the decision the following year.