The Norwegian Supreme Court has ruled in favour of conscientious objection and freedom of conscience for doctors. It held that Dr Katarzyna Jachimowicz had acted within her rights by refusing to insert intrauterine devices in women on the grounds of moral objections. The Court called for governmental health authorities to respect the right of health professionals to exercise conscientious objection. In its ruling, it cited the European Court of Human Rights. “…in accordance with article 9, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, it is one of the fundamental rights of a ‘democratic society’ in terms of the Convention”.
In 2015, Dr Jachimowicz, who was a practising physician for the district of Sauherad, was fired. However when she had been hired in 2011, the district was aware of her objections. Although a lower court supported the doctor, the health authorities appealed against the decision (see IUD: first case in Norway regarding the right to conscientious objection). The case was then heard by the Norwegian Supreme Court in late August 2018.
For Dr Jachimowicz’s lawyer, Håkon Bleken, “today’s decision taken by the Supreme Court marks an important step in the right direction, not only for doctors but also for trusted persons in all professions. This decision protects one of the most basic rights—the right to act in accordance with one’s deepest beliefs. Dr Jachimowicz takes her professional duties seriously. She has promised to protect life and is opposed to the taking of life in any form. Today, the Court has established that she was perfectly within her rights to do so”.
Bioedge, Michael Cook (21/10/2018)