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Doctor fired for pro-life stance wins major court case in Norway

30 November 2017

Dr Katarzyna Jachimowicz refused to compromise her beliefs. Image: ROMAN KOSZOWSKI /FOTO GOŚĆ

A victory for conscience rights. 

A Polish Catholic doctor who lost her job for refusing to insert abortifacient devices has had her case upheld by a Norwegian Court.

Katarzyna Jachimowicz,  an experienced family doctor who moved from Poland with her family to the municipality of Sauherad in Norway in 2010 to respond to the country’s shortage of medical professionals, became the first medical professional in Norway sacked for exercising her conscience rights.

Trampling conscience rights

According to LifeSiteNews, Dr Jachimowicz's employers accepted her conditions, that she would not refer for abortions or insert intrauterine devices (IUDs), which can act as abortifacients, before hiring her. Her ethical stance caused no problems in the four years she worked in the clinic, but in 2015, the Norwegian Government eliminated conscience rights for family doctors, making it illegal for them to refuse any form of birth control, including the insertion of IUDs, which are not considered abortifacients by the government.

Dr Jachimowicz said that family doctors could refuse to insert IUDs by claiming a lack of skill, but she did not wish to resort to this loophole. She was asked to either comply or leave, but after refusing to resign, was fired in 2015. 

A legal saga

In February, Dr Jachimowicz lost her first legal battle, where she argued that her rights were violated and that her dismissal by the state-run health care system was illegal. Now, the court of appeals in Skien has upheld her case and reversed the previous decision by the court in Notodden. The appellate court ruled that her employer, the municipality of Sauherad, has to pay her 600,000 Norwegian Krone (about £53,000) in legal fees.

The case marks the first legal victory for freedom of conscience in Norway. 

A Polish news source says that the municipality of Sauherad has decided to appeal the decision, and that the case may end up in the European Court of Human Rights. 

In 2014, two Scottish midwives lost the fight for their right to work in the NHS without being involved in abortions.

News in brief:

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