Croatian midwife sacked for refusing to participate in abortion sues hospital

By Peter Baklinski

Editor’s note. This appeared at

Hrvatski Ponos [Croatian Pride] Hospital in Knin

Hrvatski Ponos [Croatian Pride] Hospital in Knin

KNIN, Croatia, August 6, 2013 – A Croatian midwife is fighting back after she was fired in June for refusing to participate in the deliberate killing of an unborn child through abortion at the general hospital Hrvatski Ponos [Croatian Pride] in Knin.

“It was not the first time when I, as a practicing Catholic, refused to participate in that procedure,” said Jaga Stojak, 49, who has been a midwife for 27 years, 14 at the Knin hospital.

Stojak, who has never received a patient complaint, told The Adriatic Times that midwives at the hospital opposed to abortion are eventually “broken in different ways” and weeded out.

For standing firm in her conscientious objection to assisting in abortions, Stojak was demoted, given lower wages, and harassed.

“I began to be harassed, humiliated, ridiculed…despite my work and experience, they openly complained that I was not doing” my work, she said.

The persecution took its toll on the midwife.

“As a result of all this work and stress I twice had to take sick leave.”

“None of the institutions have offered help, from the Association of Midwives to the nurses’ union…nobody even bothered to respond. I’ve been left to myself, subjected to severe mobbing,” she said.

While Croatian doctors and nurses have recourse to a conscientious objection in situations that would violate their religious beliefs, the same does not apply to midwives at the Knin hospital.

During one meeting, the hospital’s former director Dr. Oliver Ojdanic criticized the midwife for her stance. One medical staff went so far as to tell Stojak that if she did not want to participate in abortions, she should have become a “hairdresser or a cook” instead of a midwife.

For Stojak, the matter is uncomplicated. The Croatian midwife code states that midwives must protect the child from conception to birth. In view of the code Stojak said that she “could not keep silent” and went public with her story.

“From then things became hellish. Many of my colleagues and the head nurses no longer acknowledged me, they pretended they do not see me,” she said.

A few “wonderful and honest” doctors quietly supported Stojack, giving her the courage to keep her head high at her job.

Then on June 14, Stojack was unexpectedly ordered to prepare her instruments and participate in the deliberate termination of a pregnancy.

“In the presence of the patient, I refused,” she said.

The hospital’s director Dr. Antonella Karačić immediately threatened the midwife with legal action for her refusal and sent her home.

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“I was mentally finished and I went on sick leave,” she said, adding that she has lost 7 to 8 kilograms (about 15-18 pounds) “since this started.”

Stojack hired a lawyer to help her fight for her rights and the rights of her fellow midwives coerced into assisting with abortions.

“I will not give up the protection of my rights, not only for myself but for the other midwives who are forced to participate in the killings, and are not protected either by the chamber, the unions or the ministry.”

“I have a right to the same conscientious objection as have doctors and nurses,” she said. “I’ll go to Strasbourg, if needed, but I will not give up.”