Swedish nurse fired for refusing to participate in abortion

The nurse has filed a complaint of religious discrimination with her country’s equality watchdog.
Tue Jan 28, 2014 - 2:35 pm EST

SWEDEN, January 28, 2014 ( - A Swedish nurse has filed a complaint of religious discrimination with her country’s equality watchdog after the hospital where she interned as a midwife sacked her for refusing to assist in abortions.

Ellinor Grimmark claims that while working as a student nurse in a hospital in Eksjö the offer of continued work through the summer was retracted after she informed her employer that she would not assist in abortions due to her religious convictions.

"I feel like their reaction was personal," Grimmark told Swedish news service The Local.

Moreover, the young nurse said she received no support from her union, which sent her a statement that made it clear she should leave her conscience rights at the door of the hospital.

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"As a patient in Sweden it must be very clear what  [healthcare] you can expect according to Swedish law," vice chairwoman Pia Arndorff of the Swedish Association of Health Professionals (Vårdförbundet) told The Local. "It should not depend on whom you happen to encounter."

However, Grimmark said, "I think it’s part and parcel of human rights, and that one should have freedom of conscience also in Sweden."

The Local reported that Grimmark has now finished her studies and found work at another hospital, where staff have told her that her refusal to assist with abortions was not an impediment.

"I declared my attitude to the hospital management and while they think it is problematic they said it was OK and that they are prepared to give it a try," Grimmark said.

A ruling from the equality ombudsman, known as Diskrimineringsombudsmannen, is expected within two weeks.

Contact info:

Swedish Equality Ombudsman
Diskrimineringsombudsmannen (DO)
Box 3686
103 59 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone +46(8)120 20 700
Email: [email protected]

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