In 2013 by virtue of its preparatory status with the Council of Europe, the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FCFAE) in conjunction with Swedish organisations Provita and KLM lodged a collective complaint against Sweden based on health rights and failure to apply the Council of Europe Resolution dated 10 October 2011.
It denounces, amongst other things, the fact that “medical staff are not entitled to conscientiously object from an ethical perspective during critical situations that could arise at the beginning and end of life in particular”.
Medical personnel wishing to promote a conscience clause will meet tough opposition even from medical professional officials who have announced that, “conscience clauses are a threat to the freedom to carry out abortions”.
As regards freedom of conscience, the Swedish Government “is contacting the relevant employees” and responded that “the question asked is theoretical” because “no-one has been able to present a case where freedom of conscience poses a problem”.
However, a report to the United Nations by Swedish medical professionals points out the difficulties experienced by several General Practitioners and Paediatricians, especially regarding “limitations in carrying out their professional activity”. A midwife has also refused work “given her refusal to carry out an abortion within the scope of her work as a midwife”.
The European Social Rights Committee gave its decision on 18 June following the complaint from the FCFAE – “it does not wish to comment”.
Furthermore, the Committee believes that the number of abortions in Sweden is not that high. The General Secretary of the FCFAE, Maria Hildingsson, nevertheless emphasised that “Sweden has one of the highest abortion rates in Europe with statistics clearly confirming this trend year after year”.
Other topics were broached in the complaint such as gender selection abortion and the fate of children born following late abortions in particular. On this point, the Committee declared that “The signatory states have considerable room for manoeuvre when it comes to deciding when a human life begins and that, from now on, every State has to establish, within that margin, the conditions in which the foetus has a right to live”.