Calif. Court to decide impact of physicians' beliefs on care

September 1, 2005

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One will decide whether two ob/gyns can use their religious beliefs as a defense for denying intrauterine artificial insemination to a lesbian patient.

The California Court of Appeal, Fourth Appellate District, Division One will decide whether two ob/gyns can use their religious beliefs as a defense for denying intrauterine artificial insemination to a lesbian patient. The case could affect what physicians in California tell patients about their religious beliefs, according to American Medical News (6/27/05).

A patient named Guadalupe Benitez sued the doctors at North Coast Women's Care Medical Group for refusing to continue her fertility treatments after she disclosed she was a lesbian. She alleged that the physicians discriminated against her, telling her that they had religious objections to helping homosexuals conceive through artificial insemination. The practice referred her to another fertility specialist and reproductive endocrinologist.

A trial court originally dismissed the case, but an appellate court reversed the decision. Back in trial court, Benitez's attorneys won an argument to toss out the physicians' religious defense. The physicians, however, have asked the appellate court to reinstate their defense.