Because of its welfare state and gender equity policies Sweden has become a beacon of progressiveness in everything that affects women. But there is one kind of woman the Scandinavian state seems to have no time for: a health professional who objects to abortion.
Two years ago Ellinor Grimmark completed a midwifery internship at Hoglandssjukhuset women’s clinic in southern Sweden, but because she told the management that she had a conscientious objection to performing abortions, she was denied further employment there.
A voicemail message from the head of the maternity ward informed her that she was “no longer welcome to work with them”, and she was challenged about “whether a person with such views actually can become a midwife.” Her student funding was also cancelled.
Mrs Grimmark was subsequently turned down for employment at another clinic, where she was told that a “person who refuses to perform abortions does not belong at a women’s clinic”.
Finally she was offered a job at the Varnamo Hospital women’s clinic. But by then she had filed a civil rights complaint against the Hoglandssjukhuset clinic with the local Equality Ombudsman, and when the media got wind of it Varnamo withdrew its offer.
These days Mrs Grimmark practices her profession in Norway, where her conscience rights are respected, but her case is by no means closed.
The Ombudsman’s ruling held that she was not being discriminated against for her pro-life views but for not being available to fulfil the job description, thus threatening the “availability of abortion care” and the “protection of health” of patients requiring an abortion in Sweden.
Represented by the organisation Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers, she then took her case against the county where the Hoglandssjukhuset clinic is located to the Jonkoping District Court, at the same time seeking compensation for damages and discrimin