Europe

Swedish anti-abortion midwife loses court case

Ellinor Grimmark - Tv4 screenshot Image copyright Tv4
Image caption Ellinor Grimmark's legal complaint has been repeatedly rejected

A Swedish court has ruled against a midwife in a dispute over her refusal to carry out abortions.

Ellinor Grimmark argued that her Christian beliefs made it impossible for her to carry out abortions and that it was unfair to be turned down for jobs in Joenkoeping because of that.

But the labour court ruled that she had not suffered discrimination. It said the authorities had not violated her "freedom of opinion and expression".

US Christians have backed Ms Grimmark.

The US Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) is a partner of her legal team - Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers.

The labour court ruling on Wednesday defended Joenkoeping region's right to require midwives to carry out abortions.

In 2015 a district court rejected Ms Grimmark's discrimination complaint. But she then decided to sue the regional health authority.

In the long-running case Sweden's discrimination ombudsman also ruled against her.

Hefty legal bill

Ms Grimmark says she will take her case to the European Court of Human Rights. It cannot overrule Sweden's courts, but if it finds a violation it can order a compensation payment.

The Svenska Dagbladet daily says she now has a legal bill of about 1.5m kronor (£136,000; $170,000).

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Swedish midwives are given more medical competence than in many other countries

Sweden's Health Professionals - an association of midwives and other medics - welcomed the court decision. Its vice-president Ann Johansson said "people seeking care should not have to think about your own opinions".

According to UN data, Sweden has one of the highest abortion rates in Europe - it was 20.8 per 1,000 women in 2011. The UK figure in 2012 was 16.6, and among the other figures for 2012 were: Norway (15.5), Russia (34.2), Estonia (23.7 - the highest rate in the EU) and Bulgaria (21.5).

Among the lowest in Europe in 2012 were Italy (9.4) and Portugal (9).

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