By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
STOCKHOLM/WARSAW (BosNewsLife)-- A Christian nurse is taking legal action against the Swedish government after she was fired for refusing to perform abortions. A doctor in Poland, who was dismissed on similar grounds, is considering an appeal.
Ellinor Grimmark said an employment offer at a hospital in Eksjö, southern Sweden, was suddenly scrapped though she had successfully completed an internship.
Grimmark, 37, linked the dismissal to her refusal to perform abortions on grounds of her Christian faith. She complaint with Sweden's Equality Ombudsman, but in April the ombudsman judged that the nurse had not been discriminated against.
The DO claimed the county council had refused her the position "not because of her religion, but because she was not prepared to perform duties that were part of the job description".
Grimmark said she has now asked the US-based organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) to help her in a court case. "No one deserves to be denied a job simply because she is pro-life," said Roger Kiska, ADF's senior legal counsel.
"We are greatly concerned with the case of Mrs. Grimmark. Her case is representative of an emerging human rights problem in Sweden regarding failure to recognize rights of conscientious objection," ADF added in a statement.
"The dismissal of midwife Grimmark is a troubling development stemming from Sweden being out of step with the rest of Europe. Such a blatant disregard for rights of conscience cannot be allowed to stand in Sweden. A state must seek to accommodate religious and moral beliefs no matter how irksome it finds them," the group added.
It comes amid reports of reports on growing pressure on Christian medical personnel in Europe, including in Poland. On Friday, July 9, news emerged that Professor Bogdan Chazan, viewed as one of Poland's top doctors, is considering an appeal after he was fired as director at Warsaw's Holy Family Hospital for his refusal to carry out an abortion.
He was also fined 70,000 zloty (approximately $23,000) for his refusal to carry out an abortion.
Warsaw's Mayor, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, explained she was ending Chazan's contract at the hospital because of "irregularities" in the case. The mother reportedly said she did not want to have a deformed baby, who had been conceived with fertility clinic treatment.
He allegedly failed to inform the mother the procedure would be illegal after 24 weeks, nor where else she could go to have it.
Under Polish law, abortions are allowed until the 25th week of pregnancy if the life of the expectant mother or her child is at risk, or in cases of incest or rape.
Instead of an abortion, Chazan offered the mother hospital care before, during and after the pregnancy, and perinatal hospice care for the child.
The baby was born and is reportedly in intensive care with severe skull and brain deformities.
Experts say Chazan was within his rights to refuse the procedure because it conflicted with his Catholic faith, but the authorities said he was legally obliged to refer the patient to another doctor prepared to carry one out.
In a Polish television interview, Chazan said the decision was "the start of an attack on the conscience of doctors and people in management positions in the health service".
Warsaw's Roman Catholic Archbishop, Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz, agreed, saying it was a "dangerous precedent that violates the rights not just of Catholics but of everyone".
Abortion remains a controversial issue in heavily Catholic Poland, where nine out of 10 people claim Catholic affiliation.
The Archbishop of Lodz, Marek Jedraszewski, even urged parishioners to help cover Chazan's fine.
“The penalty imposed on the Holy Family Hospital by the National Health Fund will clearly do harm to mothers who want to give birth to children in the hospital, because the sum [due to be paid] will reduce the amount of money spent on medication for mothers and their children,” he warned.