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European Court of Human Rights decision on the refusal to provide care is a victory for both the Swedish healthcare system and for the women of Europe.

The decision that the Swedish midwives’ case is inadmissible comes as no surprise. It marks a victory for both the Swedish healthcare system and for all women in Europe.

"We hope that this declaration by the ECHR puts an end to the anti-abortion campaign for the right to refuse to provide care. This is not just about two midwives refusing to carry out certain tasks; it’s part of a clear international agenda to chip away at abortion rights. We know from the experience of other countries that so-called “conscientious objection” in fact prevents women from being able to access a legal abortion," says Hans Linde, chair of RFSU.

This is an important decision that in the long term will help to protect women’s health, right to good quality care and to be treated with respect when seeking an abortion. All of these would be severely damaged if individual members of the profession were given the right to judge women in need of care. This perspective is fundamental to all Swedish healthcare and permeates the legal framework.

"It is not a human right for nursing staff to refuse to provide care. This decision should act as a clear message to the other countries of Europe where the question is under discussion. The Swedish midwives are a part of a large, well-financed anti-abortion campaign headed by Alliance Defending Freedom, and the European Convention on Human Rights does not support their case," says Sara Bäckström, senior legal adviser at RFSU.

The ECHR evidently deems that the Swedish system, where the patient’s need for healthcare takes precedence, is consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights. RFSU now hopes that other countries follow Sweden’s example to ensure that women’s rights are protected.