Anti-abortion midwife loses 'conscience clause' case

1:40 min

Midwives should not have the right to refuse to carry out abortions due to their religious beliefs, according to a verdict issued by the Jönköping district court Thursday. The court ruled against a Christian midwife who sued her local county council for denying her work because she refused to carry out abortions.

The midwife was offered a contract at a clinic in Jönköping in 2013 after she had completed an internship there, but the contract was rescinded when she told them she would not perform abortions due to her religious beliefs. The woman is Christian and believes that life starts at the point of conception, and that abortion would equal murder.

She claims that she was later turned down from other midwife positions in the county for the same reason, and decided to file a lawsuit against the county asking for SEK 280,000 in damages.

The district court, however, argued that performing abortions is part of the job description and the woman's freedom of religion had not been infringed on. The woman has now been asked to pay SEK 900,000 in legal fees.

Catharina Zätterström, a member of the Swedish Midwives Association's Board of Ethics, tells Radio Sweden that she was pleased with the verdict.

"This will help clarify that you can't choose what tasks you want to do and what tasks you don't want to do. Being a midwife is not like a Swedish smorgasbord where you pick whatever you want to do, it's a job," says

The midwife told Swedish Radio News that she was not surprised by the verdict. Her legal representative has said that they will appeal the decision and take the case to the European Court of Human Rights if need be.