By Jonathon Van Maren
Right across Europe and North America, the right to conscientious objection is under threat. In Canada, physicians and medical professionals are fighting in court for the right to refuse to participate in procedures and prescriptions that violate their conscience. In the United States, the Trump Administration recently opened an office specifically to protect medical professionals from being forced into participating in abortion or assisted suicide. And in the Republic of Ireland, Health Minister Simon Harris is declaring in the wake of the referendum in May that doctors may be forced to refer for abortion.
With this in mind, recent news out of Norway comes as both an enormous relief and a pleasant surprise. From Alliance Defending Freedom:
On 11 October 2018, the Supreme Court of Norway set a new precedent on conscientious objection and freedom of conscience in the medical profession. The Court found that Dr. Katarzyna Jachimowicz acted within her rights when refusing to follow through with a medical procedure to which she had a moral objection. The Court told health authorities to respect the right to conscientious objection for medical professionals in their employment.
“Today’s Supreme Court decision marks an important step in the right direction, not only for doctors, but for people of faith in all professions. The ruling protects one of the most fundamental rights, the right to act in accordance with one’s deeply held beliefs. Dr. Jachimowicz takes her vocation as a medical professional seriously. She vowed to protect life, and objected to having any part in taking it. The Court established today that she had every right to do so,” said Håkon Bleken, who represented Dr. Jachimowicz before the Court.
“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. The Court’s findings recognize the fundamental right to conscientious objection for medical staff, as protected by international law,” said Robert Clarke, Director of European Advocacy for ADF International, a human rights organization that supported the case.
In 2015, Dr. Jachimowicz lost her employment with a General Practitioner Clinic in the municipality of Sauherad. She had refused to insert intrauterine devices (IUDs), which can act as abortifacients. Administering a procedure that could result in abortion contradicted her Christian faith.
International law protects the right of medical staff to conscientious objection. Nevertheless, her superiors fired Dr. Jachimowicz because she failed to comply with an instruction that she considered to be morally wrong. A lower court found that she had acted within her right to practise medicine in accordance with her conscience but healthcare authorities appealed the decision. The case was then heard at the Supreme Court of Norway at the end of August 2018.
“This win comes at a time when medical professionals across Europe are feeling increasingly threatened in their positions by a pressure to do things they believe to be morally wrong and unethical. As such, it provides a valuable legal precedent in protecting this inherent freedom across the continent. This judgment sends a clear message to the Norwegian authorities that conscience is a fundamental right under the European Convention on Human Rights which must be protected,” said Clarke.
This is the second significant victory in Europe in a matter of months, with two Belfast bakers recently winning their case in Northern Ireland—the UK’s highest court declared that their refusal to create a cake with a slogan supporting gay marriage was not discrimination. The decision was welcomed by the attorney general of Northern Ireland as well as Christians right across Europe.
Conscientious objection is the number one target of radical abortion activists right around the world—back in July, I covered the efforts of activists in South America to label the consciences of objecting doctors a “barrier” to abortion that must be removed. That, in simple terms, is what this all boils down to: Abortion activists will attempt to destroy anything that stand between them and the right to unfettered feticide—and if they are willing to destroy babies in the womb, dismembering the consciences of a few physicians will not even make them blink.
For anyone interested, my book on The Culture War, which analyzes the journey our culture has taken from the way it was to the way it is and examines the Sexual Revolution, hook-up culture, the rise of the porn plague, abortion, commodity culture, euthanasia, and the gay rights movement, is available for sale here.