What would you do if you had to choose between your job and your faith? Between your livelihood and your conscience?
I often think about this because as a physician anesthesiologist I do not wish to perform procedures that lead to the elective, intentional demise of any life. That includes euthanasia or mercy-killing and abortion. So far, every workplace I have been part of has accommodated my conscience clause.
What if this was not the case?
This week a citizengo petition was started in favor a Polish-Norwegian physician who lost her job because she refused to perform the insertion of an intrauterine device (IUD) as a method of birth control. Her moral objection has to do with the fact that the IUD can act as an abortifacient under certain conditions. It can theoretically prevent the implantation of a viable embryo.
“Dr Jachimowicz is a medical doctor with 23 years’ experience, and over 4 years working as a family doctor at the Family Clinic in the municipality of Sauherad in Norway. During this period, there has never been any complaint about her work as a physician. From the beginning of her employment with the clinic, the management knew that Dr Jachimowicz would not agree to the use of the intrauterine coil in her practice of medicine (in Norway, the coil is not only a matter for gynecologists but also for family doctors). And, for the clinic, this did not present a problem, because other doctors at the same clinic, who were willing to prescribe this abortifacient, served the women (patients) who asked for it.
Therefore, the contract between the clinic and Dr Jachimowicz contained a disclaimer that she would not be obliged to perform these procedures, as such measures are abortifacient in nature. And, the clinic’s management agreed to the arrangement.
However, between 2011-2014, there was an intense discussion in Norway about the right to conscientious objection in family medicine. Doctors who used it underwent a thorough inspection. And then, on 1 January , 2015, a new rule came into force, which effectively prohibited family doctors from refusing any work because of their beliefs. The only exception to this draconian measure was the lack of appropriate skills.”
Dr Jachimowicz was forced out of her job because of her pro-life stance.
These situations happen not because there is a lack of medical personnel to perform morally questionable procedures, but because the militant, progressive, extreme-left, anti-family, anti-life establishment made it their purpose in life to harass Christians who guide their life by the moral compass called the Bible. Tolerance is a one-way street for these intolerant liberals.
Unfortunately, cases like these are not limited to progressive countries like Norway. Such instances have occurred in the United States as well where nurses have lost their jobs because they refused to participate in abortion, and in some cases they lost the appeal as well.
Should doctors and health professionals be allowed to practice their profession according to their faith on this issue of life? Please leave a comment below with your opinion.
This is horrible! Our rights are being stomped on more and more each day by the so called “tolerant” left. We are being forced to confirm to this world or be all out excluded. I would rather be excluded from this world rather than the kingdom of God! All I can say is Come Jesus come!
It is so sad that this is even an issue. I’m not that old and I remember a time when actions like the one described above weren’t even a consideration. Everyone wants “freedom” to do whatever they want in so many wrong ways these days that I think many Christians are starting to feel like targets at the shooting gallery. Only, this isn’t a game. How many people’s lives will be impacted because Dr Jachimowicz wasn’t allowed to serve?
A new rule here, a new rule there, and pretty soon Bible believing Christians might have no place left to go. I would contend that Christians are some of the best citizens that any country should ever want. Yes, we have morals based on the words of Jesus Christ and none of us live those words out perfectly. However, in the past as Christians grew in the faith it was not seen as a bad thing by most people. Now, so many seem to be fighting with those who follow Christ.
I hope this intolerance of the Christian faith subsides. A Christian’s only reason for intolerance is that something opposes obvious moral scriptures that are meant to help man find true freedom:
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Yes, doctors and health professionals should be allowed to practice their profession according to their faith on this issue of life.
Yet another issue with Norway vs. human rights…
And here we go again- Norway; soon too be the worst place on this globe. Or what? Do 5 million people have this impact? Really?
Don’t give words into my mouth that I have not said. Norway is still very far away from the worst places on this globe.
However the tendency of potential ideological fights behind law-making is a bit frightening on the old continent. Especially for those people living in countries who have experienced that kind of ideological fight behind law-making in the past centuries.
Reblogged this on Dumnezeu e în control.
I’d sign that petition if it came my way, but CitizenGo haven’t seen fit to circulate me on it – possibly because I don’t live in Norway?
As regards the issue in question, the use of the intrauterine coil, I think Dr Jachimowicz is wrong theologically (There is no provision in the Mosaic Law to prevent a woman who is carrying an embryo of that age from being stoned to death when she has incurred that penalty, so it must be lawful to dispose of it in other ways – This applies also to matters like IVF and embryo experimentation; basically Warnock was right, but for the wrong reasons), but she has a right to her conscience.
European Convention for Human Right says in Article 9:
“2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be
subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are
necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety,
for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the
protection of the rights and freedoms of others”
The question is that the new law limiting religious freedom was really necessary in a democratic society. If not, Dr. Jachimowicz could win a lawsuit. I don’t know about any ther democratic society where there was such a limitation, and I guess Norway’s society is secular enough to find another doctor.
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“Should doctors and health professionals be allowed to practice their profession according to their faith on this issue of life?”
I agree. It can only be a great problem in very sparsely populated areas where no other doctor is found for miles and miles, or if a doctor also tries to prevent a patient from access to others who will do the procedure, which is a procedure which a woman has a right to have carried out for her.
Dr Jachimowicz is not being prevented from practicing medicine, though, she is being prevented from being a general practitioner of a certain kind, a “fastlege” (permanent doctor) with whom patients can register in a system organised by the state’s health program. When the system of “permanent doctors” was introduced, I was not at all in favour, and actually the majority of doctors were not either, I heard, but too many of them neglected voting against it. Patients who want state-subsidised medical services have to register with a permanent doctor, and this is reported in a central register. Patients can change their permanent doctor but only so many times a year etc. The socialists try to prevent independent medical practitioners and services but cannot quite manage to. There are some private medical centres who also do some types of operations close to where I live, and I sometimes use them. They can also supply a doctor for a home visit, they are fast, and they have first class specialists, some of them for certain periods only. I had a cataract operation there. They have all advantages but one: they are expensive.
For some types of medical service, like if you have to have a special health check for keeping your driving licence, I think possibly only your permanent doctor can do it.
I would think that Dr Jachimowicz can find other work, maybe more specialised work in a hospital. It would seem more of a loss to the Sauherad district – although I am not well up on how that market is.
Norges Kristelige Legeforening, NKLF – (Norway’s Christian Doctors’ Association) supports her, and so far the general association: Den norske legeforening (The Norwegian Medical Doctors’ Association) gave her initial support in supplying her with a lawyer. The NKLF have supported her financially, and she is taking the municipality of Sauherad to court, and is prepared to take the case all the way to Strasbourg (the ECtHR), although the total costs if she loses will run to many hundreds of thousands of NOK.
Here is one article:
Thanks for your input, Marianne. I too feel that her opting out of performing the intrauterine device procedure should not impact the supply/demand curve where she is, in fact the other doctors in her group DO the procedure. I feel like this is a case of progressive intolerance toward someone’s Christian values.
We KNOW that this is a case of progressive intolerance toward someone’s Christian values. But it is possible that this is not down to the clinic itself, but the legislators.
Insufficient attention has also been given to the possibility that conscience can have a negative impact on the QUALITY of work done in defiance of it.
I frequently here this argument about a person’s conscientious objection can’t affect supply and demand. Why? Because someone has a ‘right’ to do something or pay for a service, doesn’t mean they have a ‘right’ to force others to provide the service. This is a rather twisted view of rights. I may have a right to buy a product, does that suggest I can legally force stores within a certain distance of my home to carry the product?
To John Rokos and Matt,
In fact it is the legislation that has been “sharpened” to make it obligatory on a “permanent doctor” to provide such service. Their contract with the state obliges them to. So it is not up to that particular clinic.
Thank you for the context on the situation in Norway. I’m not really surprised, but the clarity is useful. I would say this simply provides us another example of Norway as an oppressive and anti-Christian (and anti-conscience) government. When you block pro-life citizens (Christian or otherwise) legally from taking jobs what else would you call it. I suspect, however, that the argument used to support such legislation is an argument about a woman’s ‘right’ to have an abortion. This argument is, of course, specifically what I’m commenting on.
I should perhaps have added a little more about the system (although it is not essential in order to understand the Jachimowicz case, so I don’t know if it is all that interesting to DiT readers).
The system of general practitioners called “permanent doctors” is pretty pervasive. Not only the patients are subsidised but the permanent doctors, too, receive a certain sum from the state. Each permanent doctor can only take on so many patients, so if his/her list is full you have to find another. If a general practitioner does not enter into this system, he may find it difficult to find sufficient work in many places, for financial reasons. This might be the case in Sauherad municipality:
People are not obliged to register with a permanent doctor, but by far most people do. It may be difficult to find a doctor for ordinary complaints if you don’t, and priority is given to the registered patients if there is a queue.
I have a permanent doctor myself, at a local clinic, and I am very satisfied both with the doctor and the clinic. They also have a lab service. But they are not open nights or on week-ends, so if anything urgent crops up then, there are only the public emergency clinics down-town, or a private clinic’s emergency service. Such services only exist in cities/towns, but in the country districts there is an arrangement whereby different doctors are obliged to do emergency service in rotation.
Most committed Christians have been very much against the law of 1978 placing the choice of abortion with the woman. Previously, a woman wanting an abortion had to apply to a medical board. The doctors on such board were shown to be strongly criticised for being guided not by what was supposed to be decisive: the medical questions involved, but by their religious or moral views, and the boards were strongly resented and criticised – rightly so, I think, since on the questions on which they actually made their decisions, they were no more expert than the woman herself but simply very authoritarian over others who did not share their opinion. The general opinion in the population had over a long time been drifting in the direction of autonomy for the woman.
Many of the same religiously committed people, not only Catholics, have also, in Norway like in many other places, been against any form of contraception. The opinion in Norway in the last decades, I think, finds opposition to contraception in general so far out that this also affects the attitude to doctors who challenge the woman’s rights re abortion.
gives a quite comprehensive history. Sorry I haven’t found an English version.
(The word “abort” in Norwegian covers both spontaneous miscarriage and abortion.)
‘The word “abort” in Norwegian covers both spontaneous miscarriage and abortion’ – as, I think, in Hebrew and Greek. The author(s) of the uninspired (and Pelagian) Didache and Epistle of Barnabas were forced to use a phrase meaning “murder by abortion”
I would quit my job. Abortion isn’t the way to go no matter how the expecting mother got pregnant. The fetus has a heartbeat after 8 weeks,how could you listen to it,and not want to keep it,or atleast give it up for adoption. If the mother were to abort, she’s more likely going to have depression, anxiety, and PTSD. God tells us in Exodus in the Ten Commandments not to commit murder, an abortion is murder! An abortion happens every 60 seconds. If you would like more info you can visit: rupregnant.com
The (Christian) newspaper Norge IDAG (“Norway TODAY”) has a big report about the result of the court-case in Aust-Telemark Tingrett (the District Court in Eastern Telemark county). The case was brought by Dr Jahimowicz in order to get her job as a permanent doctor in Sauherad municipality back, plus receive compensation for loss of income from the time she was sacked. The process took place on 16-18 January of this year, the judgment came on 9 February.
Dr Jachimowicz lost the case. Both parties, however, will have to carry their own legal expenses (which means that the court found that it was not unreasonable of Dr Jachimowicz to bring the case to court).
I have not read the judgment, but Norge IDAG’s report is probably accurate. It says the judgment argues that letting a doctor refuse to give a woman an intrauterine contraceptive device would amount to gender discrimination of women (as against men), since men have no need of similar services.
Norge IDAG says, and it sounds logical, that the court seems to have started by making up its mind to find against Dr Jachimowicz and has then looked around for arguments to justify this decision.
It is now a question whether Dr Jachimowicz and her helpers can raise the necessary sums to appeal the judgment to the appeal court. Court cases are extremely expensive. Norges Kristelige Legeforening (Norway’s Christian Doctors’ Association) and the Catholic Church and Catholic organisations have contributed so far.
You seem to have to be a subscriber or buy access to the issue in order to read the article:
I could read the article.
Some newspapers offer some limited number of articles per month, I wonder if it was the case with IDAG as well…
I agree the reasoning is weird — and I would expect the judgement to bring arguments why non-discrimination is more important in this case than other human rights.
There is no human right for this and human right for that. There are human rights altogether, often colliding with each other and often the right balance has to be found. I would be interested what the court writes about why they think this was the current balance.
In case they just state discrimination and not go into elaboration into collision of human rights, then they have mistaken at start.
Thank you for the update, Marianne. I am not surprised she lost. Abortion is the holy grail of feminism, and Norway has certainly been a champion on that front. There has been news here in the US that Norway is picking up at least part of the tab after president Trump’s executive order has cut American international funds to various abortion causes.
I should perhaps not have been quite as brief on the reasoning (what Norge IDAG says about it).
Background: When you function as a “permanent doctor”, you receive a certain subsidy from the state for the patients who register with you. You then have the obligation to provide all medical services defined appropriate for a general practitioner to provide, for your registered patients.
The judgment says that if a permanent doctor refuses, on the basis of conviction, to do this particular procedure, a woman wanting it would have to be referred to another doctor than her permanent doctor (or she would have to change her permanent doctor) in order to have it done, and that would be unreasonable, since a man would not have to go to another doctor to obtain comparable contraceptive measures.
I’ll translate a paragraph, taken from the judgment itself – I don’t quite know if it makes matters clearer, though:
“The fact that a woman who wants an abortive (copper) spiral inserted is referred to another doctor than her permanent doctor in order to have this done, because of the doctor’s reservation (based on) conscience, represents in the opinion of the court differential treatment based on sex (gender). It is, in the view of the court, sufficient to show that it follows from human (physical) nature that men are not exposed to the situation of having to change to another doctor than his permanent doctor because of circumstances of conscience of the doctor in connection with this type of procreation-hindering medical treatment.”
Let me summarize: Dr Jachimowicz has been found guilty in discrimination, due to the nature of human beings is that they are of different sexes.
The discrimination is present in the nature of human beings. Dr. Jachimowicz had nothing to do about it.
Maybe we could find another formulation than “has been found guilty”, Jasper. That formulation smacks of criminal court, and the case is not one where she has been accused of anything. It is a civil case, one which she has started herself against the Norwegian authorities that have dismissed her from her job as a “permanent doctor”.
I was a bit strong.
Anyway, I meant, if there was any discrimination, it was by nature and not by the doctor. I think it is nonsense that the doctor is responsible in any form for the biological differences among women and men.
Here is another example of a world gone mad. A doctor has a moral problem with performing a certain procedure and she is fired? This same thing has been happening in America to a degree but there seems to be a recent, increased attack on personal ethics in the workplace in similar important cases. How far will this godless reasoning take us? Will some country begin to require certain citizens to be sterilized or worse? I thought we had progressed past such crimes. Life is becoming cheaper in the 21st century and evil forces would love for many to have to choose between their jobs and their personal morals. Many in important positions would lose influence due to the results of such a choice. I am not surprised with these cases as the Christian faith is under attack in so many ways these days. In my view, these words from Mark 12 have become less valued than at any time during my life:
“30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
On the news tonight:
The doctor has won in the appeal court against the municipality.
There are a few articles about the judgment. I am sorry I don’t have the capacity to translate, but I thought you would like to know.. Google translation will probably be a help.
Vårt Land is a Christian daily, based in Oslo. They are terrible in cps cases and terrible to cps victims, but on this question of the doctor they are sure to be on her side. The article is sort of behind a payment wall, but the text I am able to copy is actually longer than the text visible to the eye on the screen:Here is what they write:
“– Det handler om hvor mye plass vi kristne har i det offentlige rom, og hvor mye vi kan bruke vår tro og våre tanker i arbeidslivet, sier lege Katarzyna Jachimowicz.
I desember 2015 ble hun sagt opp fra sin stilling som fastlege i Sauherad kommune. Årsaken var at hun av samvittighetsgrunner ikke ville sette inn spiral. Hun mener at siden spiral hindrer befruktede egg å feste seg, er det i praksis det samme som abort.
Oppsigelsen kom i kjølvannet av debatten i 2014 om fastleger kunne reservere seg mot å henvise til abort. Da hadde allerede Jachimowicz i tre år hatt en muntlig avtale om at hun kunne henvise kvinner som ønsket spiral til andre leger.
Etter oppsigelsen saksøkte Jachimowicz kommunen. I første rettsinstans, Aust-Telemark tingrett, tapte hun, men nå har Agder lagmannsrett kommet til motsatt konklusjon: Oppsigelsen var usaklig.
Katarzyna Jachimowicz ble sagt opp fra jobben som fastlege fordi hun av samvittighetsgrunner ikke ville sette inn spiral.
Hun saksøkte så Sauherad kommune for usaklig oppsigelse.
Jachimowicz tapte saken i tingretten, men vant i lagmannsretten som konkluderte med at forskriften oppsigelsen bygde på bryter Den europeiske menneskerettighetskonvensjonens artikkel om religionsfrihet.”
Varden is a local paper based in Skien, on the coast not too far away from Sauherad (where the doctor worked).
The visible text says that the mayor of the municipality is surprised at having lost, and she is getting the executive group (part of the municipal political assembly) together to decide on “the way from here” – probably whether to appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Catholic Church is naturally very interested. Their articles are open to reading:
They also link to the judgment:
Click to access dom-fra-agder-lagmannsrett-i-sak-17-054139asd-alag-5017418v1.pdf
You will see in the judgment that it was a 2 – 1 decision, two out of the three judges found in her favour, the third in the favour of upholding the judgment from the primary court, in favour of the municipality.
Google translates a quote from the judgement as
“The majority has come to the effect that the statutory regulations must be interpreted in line with Article 9 of the ECHR, cf. Article 14.” (small correction by me, EMK is ECHR)
Very true, and decisive in this case.
In case the municipality appeals, the Supreme Court will find itself in a very sensitive position as they have to state in writing what is the relationship betwen domestic and international law, and what does the requirement “necessary in a democratic society” mean in the specific case — as the case-law is clear, not only the general rules have to be necessary in the democratic society and then whatever decision of their application was okay, but the actual decisions have to be necessary in a democratic society for restriction of the liberties protected by ECHR.
Just a linguistic detail or two: It is no correction of yours that you have replaced “EMK” with “ECHR” in English; it is rather the correct replacement. Google-translation does not capture acronyms very well. “EMK” is actually the correct abbreviation used in Norwegian, for “Den europeiske menneskerettighetskonvensjon” – the acronym catches “europeiske”, “menneskerettighets-” and “konvensjon”. You might argue that since “menneskerettighetskonvensjon” is one word in Norwegian, it had better be “EM”, but a three letter acronym has been chosen.
Similarly, the abbreviation for the Court, “Den europeiske menneskerettighetsdomstol” in Norwegian, is EMD.
Other things are tricky for automatic translation too. Writers of articles in many languages have chosen to use the Norwegian word “barnevernet” even when they write in their own languages. “Barnevernet” is then used like a proper name, but can still be analysed. I have from time to time seen Romanian, Czech and Polish articles about Barnevernet and have wanted to catch more or less what they are about. So I have Google-translated them into English (that usually works better than into Norwegian, no doubt because English has been far better explored for translation purposes than has Norwegian), and there is no end to the funny attempts the program has made at “translating” “Barnevernet” into English. A common thing is that it is interpreted to be some kind of “net” (network), whereas in reality it is “barn” (child) + a connecting, emply “-e-“, plus “vern” (protection), + “-et” (the definite article singular, neutre gender) (the final “t” is not pronounced, by the way).
Thank you for keep us up to date on this case, Marianne.
At least we know that there are two judges in Norway who respect freedom, at least to the point where a person is not forced to perform a procedure they think is wrong or sinful.
I hope the good doctor has found employment. I admire her.
Update in Norwegian: http://idag.no/index.php?page=vis_nyhet&NyhetID=27615
The article’s title says: “Sauherad municipality will appeal the case to the Supreme Court”.
It is not unexpected. They say that the case is of national importance, therefore they want a Supreme Court judgment.
Dr Jachimowicz’s lawyer Håkon Bleken says they are not against the municipality appealing, and will probably themselves appeal against the appeal court’s decision not to award Dr Jachimowicz compensation.
When a case is appealed to the Supreme Court, there is first a preliminary consideration by Høyesteretts Ankeutvalg (the Supreme Court’s appeal committee) as to whether the case is to be taken up by the Supreme Court. Very many cases are not taken up. But in this instance, both parties are of the opinion that there is an important, general issue at stake, so they expect the Supreme Court to take the case.
The appeal to the Supreme Court has passed the Appeal Committee; it will in other words be admitted to the Court.
Several newspapers etc carry the news of this. The web pages of NRK (the national broadcasting):
This one comes from the national news agency NTB:
It is the municipality’s appeal (against the judgment from the Appeal Court, which gave Dr Jachimowicz the right to be a ‘permanent doctor’ in spite of her refusal to insert IUD as a contraceptive device) that will be conducted before the Supreme Court.
The compensation claim from Dr Jachimowicz will not be taken up in the Supreme Court, since the Supreme Court’s Appeal Committee says that if the Court finds that Dr Jachimowicz has grounds for claiming compensation, the previous judgment of the Appeal Court on this issue must be set aside and the part of the case concerning compensation be continued there.
A longer article in the Christian paper Norge IDAG:
“Høyesterett tar opp Katarzynas sak” (The Supreme Court takes Katarzyna’s case)
Here it says that both the municipality’s and Katarzyna’s appeal are accepted for process, although compensation is a subordinate question.
It sounds – although this is just a speculation on my part; I have not read the decision or the previous judgment from the Appeal Court – as though IF she wins through with the main question: that she should never have been suspended or discharged, and thereafter the compensation claim is handled again in the Appeal Court, that might be in her favour. The Appeal Court might not so easily dismiss her claim for compensation when she has a Supreme Court decision in her favour.
Normally at Supreme Court (at any country) the case-law of ECHR (the court) is investigated carefully, as it is the last domestic instance, and the case-law is in theory binding for national courts.
Considering the judgement from the Appeal Court clearly relying on ECHR (the convention) in their judgement and the case-law of the Strasbourg court, it seems to be a clear logical resolution that Katarzyna shall win at Supreme Court, too.
Once again, thank you for keeping us updated on this important decision, Marianne.
I am wondering how many nations are having cases like this one in their high courts. I don’t expect anyone to have any idea but we are seeing cases in the U.S. that are similar to this. Our Supreme Court has heard all sides and is currently deliberating on whether a man had the right to act (or not act in this case) based on his personal moral code by not making a cake for two men who were getting married.
I can’t imagine how bad things will get if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the gay couple. How many lawsuits will wait in the courts for decisions when hundreds and perhaps thousands of similar cases are brought? The only one benefiting from these crazy decisions are the attorneys. If the government can limit the freedom to pick and choose clients, particularly on the basis of a moral code, which will be the next freedom to fall?
I think you are wrong, thinking that only attorney benefit. I think there is an ideological agenda, and the ideology benefits more.
I think these stories clearly highlight “moral inversions” — a term introduced by Michael Polányi. His essay “Beyond Nihilism” in book “History and Hope — Tradition, Ideology and Change in Modern Society” (Praeger, 1962) correctly highlights that there are moral excesses or pathological morals, and moral oversensitivity can be used for ideological purposes for utopian/messianistic goals. Like communism had done it for the utopian goal of building a communist society. The end result can be that masses act immorally, theutopian goal as the end justifies the means…
I think Polányi is right that those moral inversions are eliminating democracy and are leading to totalitarian regimes like they had led to them in the XXth century.
I completely understand your point and I agree with you. I don’t mind being corrected when I am wrong but in this case, logically, my statement stands correct I think.
Here is the part of my statement that you are referring to, I think:
“The only one benefiting from these crazy decisions are the attorneys. If the government can limit the freedom to pick and choose clients, particularly on the basis of a moral code, which will be the next freedom to fall?”
My point is clearly that nothing good can come from the wrong decision by our Supreme court. That attorneys are the only ones that “benefit,” means that I think that no one else will.
That the ideology that you are referring to will “benefit” is not a good thing in my opinion. Everyone loses in the long run, even the attorneys. In the short run, they will benefit quite well I think.
Even those with the agenda to which you refer may think they are benefiting but in reality they will lose as well. This is my opinion.
we are then talking about the same by slightly different terminologies 🙂
There is a judgment today from the Norwegian Supreme Court in the case of the Catholic doctor Katarzyna Jachimowicz against the municipality which dismissed her from being a so-called “permanent doctor” because she objected to inserting an intrauterine device, since she considers that to be a means of producing abortion.
She won; the dismissal of her was found to be unwarranted.
“Lege nektet å sette spiral – vant i Høyesterett”
(Doctor refused to perform insertion of intrauterine device – won in the Supreme Court)
I saw the discussion of the judgment on Dagsnytt 18, a program of discussion of news items, primarily for radio, but alo televised. It is the best news comment program we have because it is not in an awful hurry, and being a radio program, the emphasis is on argumentation:
(This particular item came at 18:23. A permanent link will come a bit later; the Dagsnytt 18 programs are viewable around the world and are not removed. We see mainly Dr Jachimowicz’s lawyer explaining what the Court has said and not said.)
I have not read the judgment. However, I think I got the main points:
Dr Jachimowicz’s employment agreement, in which she had informed the municipality, before she was employed, that she refused to insert the intrauterine device, stems from before 1 January 2015, and there was before that date nothing to prevent such an agreement from including a reservation against performing abortion or other types of treatment which went against the conscience of a doctor. (From that date new legislation was in force, which balances the rights of doctors against the rights of patients differently, so that a doctor cannot claim such a reservation if that makes it impossible or unduly difficult for a patient to obtain a legitimately claimed service elsewhere. (“Unduly difficult” might include having to travel very far away from where one lives.))
Since Dr Jachimowicz’s employment agreement stems from before 2015, the case was treated as one of labour legislation, and the municipality was found to be in error in having dismissed her. As a judgment in labour legislation matters, the judgment is important.
The judgment seems to imply that it has also been illegal to press out of their jobs other doctors, who had like Dr Jachimowicz claimed a reservation based on conscience before 2015 but were pressed out when the 2015 legislation came, but had not gone to court like Dr Jachimowicz has.
But the case being decided according to labour law, the Supreme Court has not in the judgment come up with a clear consideration of whether the dismissal of her was also in violation of her human rights, in this case of Article 9 in the European Convention of Human Rights:
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.
2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
The Supreme Court nevertheless discusses the relation to Article 9, and come up with two categories: whether a refusal will make it impossible for the woman to obtain the service to which she has a right, OR whether she can have it done elsewhere. The Supreme Court holds the right to reservation based on conscience to be important in the second type of case/situation.
A university lecturer of legal science, interviewed on the telephone, thinks the judgment holds the question quite open of whether the present legislation/regulation is in violation of Article 9.
So there may be other court cases, if the legislators (Parliament) or the government, formulating regulations, stick to it that they think the present law and regulation is what they want and do not decide to try to clarify any point of balance.
Aha, I see the judgment is a few days old, although it was only today it was on Dagsnytt 18.
“GP that refused to insert spiral won the case”
Marianne, thank you for the update!
Of course the discussion is all in Norwegian, but here is a permanent link anyway:
The discussion is texted, but the text too is in Norwegian.
This part of the program starts at about 23:30 here.
The name of Dr Jachimowicz’s lawyer is Håkon Bleken.
The young woman beside him is a member of the board of KrF, the Christian Democratic Party
Another politician is interviewed in a studio elsewhere (at about 31:00); she is a member of Parliament for the Labour Party, and defends the law and the regulation as they are.
The point at issue is whether the rule about someone employed specifically as a “permanent doctor” not since 2015 having the right at all to refuse to carry out a procedure against the doctor’s conscience, can be upheld, or whether it in the light of Article 9 has to be modified, in reality go back more or less to the situation before the 2015 legislation, which actually seems to be suggested by the Supreme Court’s discussion, which I tried to summarise above:
“The Supreme Court nevertheless discusses the relation to Article 9, and come up with two categories: whether a refusal will make it impossible for the woman to obtain the service to which she has a right, OR whether she can have it done elsewhere. The Supreme Court holds the right to reservation based on conscience to be important in the second type of case/situation.”
I should add a couple of things:
1) When it comes to abortion of a foetus already conceived, the woman no longer has to go via her “permanent doctor” at all to get a referral, she can go directly to a hospital. That makes it unimportant whether the permanent doctor has reservations or not.
2) Mr Bleken says that in other kinds of cases than abortion or the intrauterine device, the authorities have actually accepted reservations based on conscience, e.g against ritually motivated circumcision of boys (circumcision of males is not usual in Norway). So Bleken thinks that there is not on the part of our authorities any equality in their treatment of different types of reservations based on conscience.
He says in conclusion: Why is it impossible to “let up” and go back to the kind of arrangement we had for 35 years before 2015 (i.e the years since the law making abortion the free choice of the woman was passed)? He thinks the Labour Party has not answered that question. The Labour MP Kari Henriksen says: Because it did not function well; there were great differences between different districts in Norway; also that it is no human right to have a job specifically as a “permanent doctor”, there are other jobs available for doctors. She thinks the present law/regulation functions well.
(WordPress says that I am duplicating this comment but I don’t see it so if there are two of them, please excuse me!)
This is welcome news, Marianne. Thank you.
It sounds like there will need to be clarification in future cases (post January 1, 2015).
I’m speculating based on this:
“(From that date new legislation was in force, which balances the rights of doctors against the rights of patients differently, so that a doctor cannot claim such a reservation if that makes it impossible or unduly difficult for a patient to obtain a legitimately claimed service elsewhere. (“Unduly difficult” might include having to travel very far away from where one lives.))”
I’m sure there is some legal or medical body that makes such decisions before they wind up in front of the Norwegian Supreme Court.
Then there is this:
“The Supreme Court nevertheless discusses the relation to Article 9, and come up with two categories: whether a refusal will make it impossible for the woman to obtain the service to which she has a right, OR whether she can have it done elsewhere. The Supreme Court holds the right to reservation based on conscience to be important in the second type of case/situation.”
Am I understanding this correctly, Marianne? It seems that the court hasn’t really ruled in the first category.
Also, in your additions I found this interesting:
“When it comes to abortion of a fetus already conceived, the woman no longer has to go via her “permanent doctor” at all to get a referral, she can go directly to a hospital. That makes it unimportant whether the permanent doctor has reservations or not.”
Are most of Norwegian abortions done in hospitals?
I didn’t dig real deep but found that “Current Norwegian legislation and public health policy provides for abortion on demand in the first 12 weeks of gestation, by application up to the 18th week, and thereafter only under special circumstances until the fetus is viable, which is presumed at 21 weeks and 6 days.”
And I found this article:
In the article there is this statement:
“Abortion is completely integrated into the Norwegian health care system, paid for (like other medical procedures) by the government, and available virtually everywhere in the country.”
So, I have answered my own question about where Norwegian abortions are done. I suppose it doesn’t matter where they are done but I must admit I am saddened by this information. I guess I am a greenhorn when it comes to so much going on in our world.
I do hope that the Norwegian Supreme Court will hold the right to reservation based on conscience to be important in all situations, particularly when it comes to the ending of a life in the womb.