The decision went on to say, “Sweden provides nationwide abortion services and therefore has a positive obligation to organize its health system in a way as to ensure that the effective exercise of freedom of conscience of health professionals in the professional context does not prevent the provision of such services.”
In the end, the court decision might lead to the notion that performing an abortion is part of the job description of a midwife. This ruling jeopardizes the right to work of all the European midwives who refuse to perform abortions because of their conscience.
There is a possibility that the decision might be overturned in the future by decisions made by the Court in a higher chamber, composed of 7 or 17 justices.
Robert Clarke, deputy director of ADF International, said right after the decision to be “very disappointed” because “a positive judgment from the Court would have been an important step in the protection of the right to freedom of conscience. Medical professionals should be able to work without being forced to choose between their deeply held convictions and careers.”
“International law clearly protects the right to freedom of conscience. Nobody should be forced to decide between their profession and their conscience. Rather than forcing midwives and other medical professionals out of their profession, Sweden should look to safeguard their moral convictions,” said Paul Coleman, Executive Director of ADF International.
Freedom of expression
Päivi Räsänen, a member of the Finnish Parliament, faces four police investigations because of her position on homosexual relations.
The first investigation started because of a tweet she posted in June 2019. In the tweet, Räsänen questioned the official sponsorship from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland to the LGBT event, Pride 2019. Räsänen attached to the tweet the image of the Bible passage Romans 1:24-27.
The passage reads: “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.”
After the tweet, Räsänen was subjected to a police interview in November 2019.
The second investigation is about a pamphlet on human sexuality for a Christian foundation. The pamphlet was published over 16 years ago.
(Story continues below)
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The police had already decided to drop the investigation into Räsänen's pamphlet and concluded that there were no grounds to proceed with a prosecution. However, the Prosecutor General reopened the criminal investigation after the publication of the tweet, and on March 2, 2020, Räsänen attended a police interview.
During the interview, she said that she “never thought I would face a criminal investigation for sharing my deeply held beliefs. It came as a total surprise. As a Christian and a democratically elected Member of Parliament, I have often heard things with which I disagree – sometimes very strongly. At times, I have felt insulted. I believe the best response to this is more debate, not censorship.”
Räsänen has served as a Finnish Member of Parliament since 1995, was chair of the Christian Democrats from 2004-2015. She was Minister of the Interior from 2011 – 2015, a position that includes the responsibility for Church affairs in Finland.
Two additional investigations on Räsänen were later opened about interviews she granted to a tv program and a radio station.
The tv program was broadcast in 2018. Räsänen discussed with the presenter also her personal beliefs.
The radio interview took place in 2019. The show was about "What would Jesus think about homosexuals?" and Räsänen intervened, sharing her opinions.