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Group flips on whether religion lets doctors refuse to inseminate lesbians


Guadalupe Benitez (right), with partner Joanne and son Gabriel, sued her doctors, saying they would not perform artificial insemination because she is gay. (John Gastaldo/San Diego Union-Tribune)

Like the pious pharmacists unwilling to fill prescriptions for birth control pills, we have doctors now ready to decline artificial insemination services to lesbians because of “religious beliefs.” The California Medical Association (CMA) filed legal papers in support of two San Diego doctors who refused the services to Guadalupe Benitez on religious grounds, but they have withdrawn the brief, citing the Golden State law that treats same-sex partners as married couples. (AP):

Benitez sued the North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group for discrimination after alleging doctors Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton refused to inseminate her because of her sexual orientation. She turned to another doctor outside her health plan and eventually gave birth to a son.

The clinic’s doctors have argued that they should not have to treat women like Benitez because inseminating an unmarried woman contradicts their religious convictions.

Oral arguments are scheduled before the state’s Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego on Oct. 11. The California Medical Associated wants to file a new brief arguing that neither Guadalupe Benitez’s sexual orientation nor her marital status was medically relevant to whether her doctors were obliged to treat her.

…The CMA’s new brief states that legal and ethical standards prohibit physicians from discriminating, but says they can refuse to perform certain procedures on religious grounds, if they refuse such treatment for all patients.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding