In order to respect health care professionals’ freedom of religion and conscience, some European countries have developed and adopted regulation that gives health care professionals the right to "opt-out" of participating in certain health related services based on religious grounds, otherwise known as conscientious objections in health care. Currently, in Sweden, there is no right for health care professionals to refuse to perform or participate in medical procedures that are contrary to their religious and moral beliefs. Nevertheless, lately the question of conscientious refusals has emerged in discussion in Sweden in relation to several midwifes wishes not to participate in abortion care, since they believe it contravenes their religious believes. In this commentary, the question of conscientious objection to abortion in Sweden will be explored by analyzing a recent case brought before the Swedish Labour Court (AD 2017 nr 23) about a midwife, Ellinor, who was denied employment in several women’s clinics on the grounds of her conscientious refusals to participate in abortion care. The case is analyzed with focus on the two central questions addressed by the Labour court, namely freedom of religion and the prohibition of discrimination on religious grounds.
Keywords: Conscientious objection; Abortion; Sweden; Swedish Labour Court; Freedom of religion; Prohibition of discrimination on religious grounds