Skip to main content

Grimmark v. Sweden

Description:  In November 2013, Höglandssjukhuset women’s clinic in Sweden rescinded a job offer as a midwife from Ellinor Grimmark after she explained that she could not perform abortions because of her conscientious objection and her Christian faith. The head of the maternity ward said that “she was no longer welcome to work with them” and questioned “whether a person with such views actually can become a midwife.” A few months later, Grimmark tried to obtain employment with Ryhovs women’s clinic, which told her that a person who refuses to perform abortions does not belong at a women’s clinic. Värnamo Hospital’s women’s clinic offered Grimmark a job but then withdrew employment because of the complaint she filed against Höglandssjukhuset. The head of the hospital told Grimmark that no employee was allowed to publicly take a stand against abortion.


Wednesday, Jun 14, 2017
STRASBOURG, France – A Christian midwife filed her application with the European Court of Human Rights Wednesday against Sweden. Elinor Grimmark had to seek work in another country because she refused to participate in abortions. Because the Swedish courts have failed to recognize her freedom of conscientious objection, she is asking the European court to hear her case, Grimmark v. Sweden.

“The desire to help bring life into this world is what leads many midwives and nurses to enter the medical profession in the first place. Instead of forcing desperately needed midwives out of a profession, governments should look to safeguard the moral convictions of medical staff,” said ADF International Director of European Advocacy Robert Clarke. “Ellinor’s case could determine whether people who value life at all stages of development will be able to pursue a medical career in the future. Sweden has failed to protect this midwife’s fundamental right to freedom of conscience guaranteed by international law.”

Three different medical clinics had refused to employ Grimmark because she would not assist with abortions in light of her convictions about the dignity of all human life. On April 12, the Swedish Labour Court of Appeal refused to protect her freedom of conscience and instead found that Grimmark’s rights had not been violated.

The court required her to pay the local government’s legal costs, amounting to more than 150,000 euros. ADF International filed an expert brief in support of her case with the Swedish court, highlighting the protection for freedom of conscience that exists under international law.

“I chose the midwifery profession because I wanted to help bring life into this world,” explained Grimmark during a media background briefing in Strasbourg Wednesday. “I cannot understand why the Swedish government refuses to accommodate my conscientious convictions. I am now working in Norway, where my conscience is respected, but no one can explain why Sweden cannot do the same.”

ADF International is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
# # # | Ref. 44753

Legal Documents

District court opinion: Grimmark v. Landstinget i Jönköpings Län
Expert brief: Grimmark v. Landstinget i Jönköpings Län

Related Resources

ABOUT Robert Clarke
Robert E. Clarke serves as legal counsel and director of European advocacy for ADF International at its office in Vienna, Austria. He specializes in religious freedom issues and cases before the European Court of Human Rights as well as leading efforts across Europe in defence of life, family, and religious freedom. Prior to joining ADF International, Clarke was in-house counsel for the Nursing and Midwifery Council in London, prosecuting cases of medical misconduct. He qualified as a barrister at 2 Bedford Row in London, specializing in criminal and regulatory law. Clarke earned his LL.B with American law from the University of Nottingham with honours in 2012, having spent one year at the University of Virginia School of Law. He also completed the Bar Professional Training Course at Nottingham Law School. Clarke completed the ADF leadership development program to become a Blackstone Fellow in 2011. He is qualified as a barrister and is admitted to the Bar of England and Wales.