EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS – Swedish midwives have lost: it’s finally over

We covered this case in 2017 through three courts in Swedenand their appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. It’s finally over. It’sworth repeating what happened from the beginning since the news outlets haven’tgot it quite right:

InSweden, conscientious objection to abortion is not recognised in law. A Swedishmidwife who refused to participate in abortions or prescribe contraceptives,which were part of the job description of a job she had applied for, was turneddown for the job in three clinics in the region of Joenkoeping in 2014. Hercase was tried by Sweden’s discrimination ombudsman and appealed to thedistrict court. Both ruled against her claims of discrimination in 2015. Theirrulings were because the contract for the job she wanted specified that abortioncare and provision of contraception was part of the work. She refused to acceptthese terms in the contract, and therefore was not given the job. The districtcourt ordered her to pay the authorities’ legal costs. She then appealed to theLabour Court, claiming she was being discriminated against because of herreligious faith. The Labour Court said it was not discrimination; she wasrefusing to carry out part of the job. Both she and a second midwife in thesame boat took an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), claimingtheir rights to freedom of religion and conscience under the EuropeanConvention on Human Rights were being violated, with the financial support of arich US-based anti-abortion group.

Afew days ago, the ECHR found that the Swedish government had acted lawfully,and refused to take up the case. Hans Linde of RFSU told the Guardian:“This is an important decision, that in the long term will help to protectwomen’s health, the right to good quality care and to be treated with respectwhen seeking an abortion.” Amen to that.

SEETHE FULL HISTORY AT: International Campaignnewsletter,17 March 2017; International Campaignnewsletter,19 April 2017 ; International Campaignnewsletter,31 May 2017 ; International Campaignnewsletter,8 August 2017 ; Guardian, by Reuters, 13 March 2020; PHOTO by Reuters in Guardian