Supreme Court of Norway tells health authorities to respect right of conscientious objection for medical professionals in their employment

By Dave Andrusko

Last November we reposted a story from the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children which announced that Katarzyna Jachimowicz, an experienced Polish Catholic physician who had moved to Norway in response to a shortage of physicians, had won the nation’s first legal victory for freedom of conscience.

Dr. Jachimowicz had been fired following a decision by the Norwegian Government in 2015 to eliminate conscience rights for family doctors. She refused to follow through with a medical procedure which she considered an abortifacient to which she had a moral objection.

“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,” according to SPUC.

In November, however, the court of appeals in Skien 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,” SPUC reported.

The municipality of Sauherad decided to appeal the decision. Then the truly great news which came today.

The Supreme Court of Norway “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,” said Håkon Bleken, who represented Dr. Jachimowicz before the Court. “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,”