California Supreme Court Rules on Religiously Biased Healthcare

The California Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday that doctors cannot withhold care from gay and lesbian patients on the basis of religious belief. The court ruled that “although religious liberty was protected by the constitution, this was not an excuse for unlawful discrimination against others,” according to BBC News.

The ruling resulted from a lawsuit originally filed in 2001 against the North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group by Guadalupe Benitez. Benitez, who is a lesbian, hoped to become pregnant via artificial insemination at North Coast, the only fertility provider covered by her insurance. Her doctor at North Coast refused to perform artificial insemination due to religious objections to Benitez’s sexual orientation. Benitez sued under a state civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation by businesses.

In relation to the lawsuit, Benitez told Ms. magazine that “I couldn’t stop [fighting], not only for myself and my family [but] for all the people who come after me. [Doctors] shouldn’t have the power to decide who should be able to have children.”


BBC News 8/19/08; HRC "Equally Speaking 8/19/08; Ms. Fall 2006

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