The 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council is under way in Geneva. The council is being asked to rule that nations should respect treaties that call for freedom of religion and conscience in the medical profession.
Alliance Defending Freedom is holding a parallel event as the UNHRC considers the case of Ellinor Grimmark, a Swedish citizen who must participate in abortions or lose her job as a midwife.
ADF International and the Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers are combining efforts to call attention to the lack of protections for conscience in several European countries. Although it's a fundamental human right protected under international and European human rights law, there is a growing trend to override it and force medical workers to participate in abortion.
Paul Coleman is an ADF attorney based in Geneva.
"Willingness to commit an abortion cannot be a litmus test for employment," he states. "Medical clinics and hospitals need to respect the desire and conviction of a midwife or nurse to protect life – a desire that led Ellinor Grimmark and others like her to pursue the profession in the first place."
Ruth Nordstrom, president of Scandinavian Human Rights Lawyers, points to Sweden as a prime example where "medical workers are being reprimanded, repositioned, fired and put at a disadvantage in other ways." She adds: "Their freedoms under international treaties are being violated."