Pro-life advocates are hailing a ruling Thursday by Norway’s Supreme Court in favor of a physician fired for refusing to distribute abortion-causing drugs as an “important step in the right direction.”
The decision is good, “not only for doctors, but for people of faith in all professions,” said Hakon Bleken, who represented Dr. Katarzyna Jachimowicz.
The ruling “protects one of the most fundamental rights, the right to act in accordance with one’s deeply held beliefs,” Bleken said in a statement by Alliance Defending Freedom International.
“Dr. Jachimowicz takes her vocation as a medical professional seriously. She vowed to protect life, and objected to having any part in taking it,” Bleken said.
“The court established today that she had every right to do so.”
Jachimowicz was dismissed in 2015 from her general practitioner clinic in Sauherad, Norway.
She refused an order to insert intrauterine devices, which “could result in abortion,” and that violated her Christian beliefs.
The Norwegian Supreme Court’s decision “set a new precedent on conscientious objection and freedom of conscience in the medical profession,” ADF International said.
Robert Clarke, director of European advocacy for ADF International, said nobody “should be forced to choose between following their conscience or pursuing their profession.”
“We welcome this ruling from the Norwegian Supreme Court. It will set new standards for the protection of fundamental conscience rights in Norway and beyond,” he said.
“The court’s findings recognize the fundamental right to conscientious objection for medical staff, as protected by international law.”
International law also protects the right of medical staff to conscientious objection.
Her conscience rights were affirmed a year ago by a lower court, but health-care industry managers appealed to the nation’s Supreme Court.
At the time, Clarke noted the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has affirmed that “no person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion.”
As a member state of the Council of Europe, Clarke pointed out, Norway has an obligation to protect freedom of conscience.
Originally from Poland, Jachimowicz has 23 years experience as a doctor. She moved to Norway in 2010 with her family, and she made known her objection to abortion and associated procedures before she began working at the clinic.
That did not present a problem to her employer at the time, according to ADF International.
Norwegian law plainly gives doctors permission to conscientiously object to abortion, but in 2015 lawmakers introduced a change that would prohibit physicians from refusing to provide any method of birth control, even if it results in abortion.
LifeSite News reported that before she was dismissed, the municipality of Sauherad, headed by Cecilie Stangeby of the health department, tried to pressure her “to break her system of values.”
“Faithful to her patients and her conscience, Jachimowicz did not want to leave or get fired,” Lifesite News said. “And with the support of her patients from different religions, colleagues at the Norwegian Christian Medical Association (Kristelig Legeoforening), some media and the Catholic Church in Norway, she went to court.”