A Swedish nurse is suing after a women’s center rescinded its job offer to her because she said her faith prevented her from performing abortions.
In Spring 2013, Ellinor Grimmark completed a successful midwifery internship at Höglandssjukhuset women’s center, where she had already worked as a nurse. The center offered her a job upon graduation, but then rescinded it when she told them of her pro-life views. Grimmark received her midwifery degree in January 2014.
Grimmark told a Swedish newswire service that being able to act upon her beliefs is “part and parcel of human rights, and that one should have freedom of conscience also in Sweden.” According to Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the head of that center’s maternity ward told Grimmark that “she was no longer welcome to work with them” and questioned “whether a person with such views actually can become a midwife.”
After she filed a religious discrimination complaint, two other employers also refused to hire her because of her pro-life stance. Värnamo Hospital said it would hire Grimmark on a temporary basis beginning in May 2014, but withdrew the offer after learning of the complaint.
On April 10, a court ruled that the offer from Höglandssjukhuset was rescinded “not because of her religion, but because she was not prepared to perform duties that were part of the job description,” according to BosNewsLife.
The group Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers is helping Grimmark appeal the ruling. In July, ADF filed an amicus brief arguing Sweden is “out of step with the rest of Europe” and has committed to international treaties that affirm rights of conscience. In neighboring Norway, for example, laws protect medical workers’ rights of conscience, according to Life Site News.
“ADF stands by Mrs. Grimmark … precisely because rights of conscience are explicitly recognized in international law, and among the commitments Sweden has accepted through the treaty and convention ratification process,” the brief said.
The brief also pointed out that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe states, “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 fetus or embryo for any reason.”
Sweden leads Nordic countries in abortion rates because the government provides free abortions up until 18 weeks of pregnancy, according to Life Site News. Due to the high number of abortions, midwives often assist.
“No one deserves to be denied a job simply because she is pro-life,” ADF senior legal counsel Roger Kiska said in a statement. “International laws to which Sweden is obligated recognize freedom of conscience and make clear that being pro-abortion cannot be a requirement for employment, nor can medical facilities force nurses and midwives with a conscience objection to assist with practices that can lead to an abortion.”