For an introduction to the Weekly Digest, read our first post here. To receive the Alliance Alert Daily Digest in your inbox every day, sign up here.
On to the news.
Swedish Midwife Blacklisted for Pro-Life Views
Today's story comes from Sweden: Three different medical clinics refused to employ Ellinor Grimmark as a midwife (essentially, Sweden’s version of a nurse) because of her request not to participate in abortions.
Surely there is a way to accommodate pro-life views for midwives, right? For Grimmark, the only solution so far has been to move to Norway.
The Wall Street Journal provides some context:
"Ms. Grimmark, a devout Christian, knew that some midwives participate in abortions, but she assumed that hospitals would offer conscience carve-outs for practitioners like her. 'There is so much to do as a midwife,' she says in an interview at her lawyer’s office. 'So I just thought, "OK, that’s one part, but I will do everything else."'"
"In one sense, her intuition was correct. A 2007 study from Umeå University found that 35% of Swedish midwives had never been involved with abortions during their careers, while another 23% hadn’t in the previous two years. Only late-term abortions are carried out in birth wards, where she wanted to work, and these are rare and always planned ahead.
"But Ms. Grimmark underestimated the authorities’ determination to root out antiabortion sentiment. In spring 2013, with one term left in her studies, she asked supervisors at the hospital where she planned to work to accommodate her conscience rights."
The story gets worse: Ms. Grimmark received a call from one of the managers, who screamed "How could you even think of becoming a midwife with these opinions?"
The message was clear: Pro-life views were not acceptable, even though some of Sweden’s neighboring countries manage to respect the conscience rights of midwives. In fact, Ms. Grimmark moved to work as a midwife in Norway, where her conscience rights would be protected.
Rod Dreher of The American Conservative expresses concern this way:
"Grimmark was denounced by Sweden’s former antiterrorism chief as being like Islamic extremists — this, for holding pro-life views. A show on national television characterized her as part of a global war on women. This is all being sorted out by the courts now. A Swedish lower court ruled against her, but this week, an appellate court will have its say. And it could end up in the European Court of Human Rights.
"The Journal piece points out that both Norway and Denmark protect abortion rights and freedom of conscience, with no problem. Sweden is doing what it’s doing out of spite: to shut down any and all opposition to abortion."
Robert Clarke, director of European advocacy for ADF International agreed:
"Some have attempted to frame this case as one that pits one human right against another. However, the only person whose rights have been violated is Ellinor Grimmark. The fact that midwives in other countries are able to work in accordance with their consciences should be proof enough that Sweden stands without an excuse."
Before you write this off as a story that does not matter here in the U.S., the phenomenon of rooting out conscience rights in the medical field is not isolated. Just last week, a court in Vermont allowed a law to stand that forces doctors to "offer doctor-prescribed death as an 'option' for their patients." These stories are prevalent; just look at the "life-related" section on our freedom of conscience page.
A midwife should not be forced to move to another country because she is pro-life. Freedom of conscience ensures that people with varying viewpoints on divisive issues like abortion can peacefully and respectfully coexist.
As always, you can receive the Alliance Alert Daily Digest right in your inbox. Subscribe by clicking here.