Doctor in Norway fired from her job for protecting life - we must protest!
It's hard to believe that in Norway, a country which talks a lot about tolerance and human rights, some fundamental freedoms, which flow from human dignity, are not respected.
Dr Katarzyna Jachimowicz, a Polish medical doctor living and working in Norway, was sacked because she listened to her conscience and did not want to contribute to the killing involved in performing abortions. The details of the firing leave no doubt that the dismissal from her job is a violation of basic human rights and an example of intolerance. Here are the details:
Dr Jachimowicz is a medical doctor with 23 years' experience, and over 4 years working as a family doctor at the Family Clinic in the municipality of Sauherad in Norway. During this period, there has never been any complaint about her work as a physician. From the beginning of her employment with the clinic, the management knew that Dr Jachimowicz would not agree to the use of the intrauterine coil in her practice of medicine (in Norway, the coil is not only a matter for gynecologists but also for family doctors). And, for the clinic, this did not present a problem, because other doctors at the same clinic, who were willing to prescribe this abortifacient, served the women (patients) who asked for it.
It is worth noting that the intrauterine coil can act as an abortifacient. It can prevent the implantation, into the uterus, of the embryo conceived in the fallopian tube, and, as a result, cause of the death of the embryo.
Therefore, the contract between the clinic and Dr Jachimowicz contained a disclaimer that she would not be obliged to perform these procedures, as such measures are abortifacient in nature. And, the clinic's management agreed to the arrangement.
However, between 2011-2014, there was an intense discussion in Norway about the right to conscientious objection in family medicine. Doctors who used it underwent a thorough inspection. And then, on 1 January , 2015, a new rule came into force, which effectively prohibited family doctors from refusing any work because of their beliefs. The only exception to this draconian measure was the lack of appropriate skills.
Trouble for Dr Jachimowicz arose at the beginning of 2015. At that time, she was working in the clinic during an inspection given by the head of doctors in the Province, and, in the issuing report, a statement was included saying that the conscience clause could no longer be used. Dr Jachimowicz could have been fired for merely saying that she declined to use the coil in her practise of medicine.
Throughout the Province of Telemark, four doctors opposed to these practices, but were not sacked. However, they were all expected to leave on their own initiative. And, three of them decided to take such a step. But, Dr Jachimowicz remained at her clinic. As a result, management of the municipal clinic fired Dr Jachimowicz from her job in December, 2015.
It is worth noting that Dr Jachimowicz is Polish, but speaks perfect Norwegian, (Her husband is also a Pole, and together, they are raising two children) and worked on the same basis as doctors coming from Norway. That is to say that her dismissal from work was not a form of discrimination based on nationality or language problems, but because of conscience.
Dr Jachimowicz says that she has not regretted, for a single moment, following her conscience. Although in the beginning she felt very isolated by the medical community because of this decision, after a few months she got the overwhelming support from the Norwegian Christian Medical Association (Kristelig Legeoforening), which assisted her morally, organisationally, and financially (covering part of the court costs).
And, on 1 July, a claim to court for unfair dismissal was lodged. Dr Jachimowicz hopes a win in court will change Norwegian legislation. This is hugely important, because nowadays ethical dilemmas in medicine, between life and death, arise with more and more frequency.
But, in the meantime, Dr Jachimowicz also got another job. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that one must listen to his or her conscience. The price for obeying one's conscience can be the loss of a job, but integrity and peace of mind, knowing that one has not violated his or her own conscience, is far more important.
We encourage everyone to sign this petition in defence of Dr Katarzyna Jachimowicz. We thank Dr Jachimowicz for having the courage to respect the right of conscientious objection, a noble example for all other doctors who face similar dilemmas. And, we turn to the community, which fired Dr Jachimowicz from her job, demanding redress and asking her to be returned to her position at the medical clinic. The petition is addressed, above all, to the Norwegian Ministry of Health, to create such legal conditions that doctors can practise their profession in accordance with conscience.
Photo courtesy of Andrzej Babicz - http://www.bialystokonline.pl/andrzej-babicz-fotoandrzej-laboratorium-fotograficzne,firma,11244,393,09,0,1.html