GP that refused to insert spiral won in the Supreme court
A Catholic GP in Telemark, partaking in the Norwegian GP scheme, lost her job because she for conscientious reasons refuses to insert a spiral (UID) in women. The Norwegian Supreme Court states that the termination of her contract is invalid.
In November last year, Agder’s Court of Appeal found that the termination was invalid, but the Sauherad municipality did not have to pay penalties to Katarzyna Jachimowicz, according to them.
On Thursday a unanimous Supreme Court agreed with the first point but found that the municipality is liable for loss Jachimowicz has suffered as a result of the termination of the contract. In addition, the municipality has to pay NOK 2.5 million in court fees. Thursday’s verdict does not state any limits to the compensation that the Sauherad municipality has to pay.
Jachimowicz was municipally employed as a GP for 20 per cent of a man-year by the Sauherad municipality in Telemark. She started working in the GP scheme in May 2011. During the interviewing process, she had informed of her conscience reservations, which meant that she reserved herself against inserting a spiral in women to prevent pregnancy, which is still forbidden by the Catholic Church.
The doctor has always been clear on that her conscience reservations were part of the agreement she signed with the municipality.
– The termination was unfair and violates human rights. If I had thought differently, I would never have gone to court with the matter. I strongly disagree with the reason for termination and believe we must respect human rights in Norway, Jachimowicz stated before the treatment by the Norwegian Supreme Court.
Just this reservation was the first Supreme Court looked at when they accepted the case, and Judge Erik Møse writes that he finds it clear that «a binding agreement regarding the employment of Jachimowicz was signed, which included an acceptance of her conscience reservations.»
Lost the first round
The County Governor of Telemark instituted a lawsuit against Jachimowicz in February 2014, and in January the following year, the Norwegian Board of Health and Welfare stated that she had no right to reserve herself. She took a leave on April 1, 2015, and has since worked as a medical doctor at Telemark Hospital. The municipality terminated her GP scheme contract on December 3rd of the same year.
Jachimowicz sued the Sauherad municipality in 2016 but lost the first round in the East Telemark District Court in February 2017. After appealing to the Court of Appeals, she then won, but that verdict was made with dissent. There was no such dissent when the Supreme Court ruled in the case.
A great day
Deputy Leader of the Christian Democrats (KrF), Olaug Bollestad, is very pleased with the decision by the Supreme Court.
– This is incredibly important for humanity, freedom of belief and freedom of conscience, says Bollestad to NTB. She believes the case must have consequences for the Norwegian legislation.
– We will now make an initiative to change the GP scheme regulation. Women should be taken care of, but it is necessary to facilitate for the physicians’ conscience, says the KrF Deputy Leader.
When Jachimowicz was employed, the GP scheme did not contain any explicit rules on conscience reservation, the Supreme Court points out in the verdict.
© NTB scanpix / #Norway Today