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Dec 13, 2005

By Alexa Hinton
Mon Dec 12

A lesbian woman will challenge an appeals court ruling that permitted two doctors to claim a religious defense in their refusal to artificially inseminate her.
A California appeals court last week sided with the doctors, Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton, saying they can claim religious liberty in refusing to treat a patient who was gay because it was against their Christian beliefs.

Guadalupe Benitez filed a sexual-orientation discrimination suit against the doctors at a San Diego women's clinic after they refused to artificially inseminate her in 2000.

Benitez claims that on her first visit, Brody informed her that while her religious principles precluded her from performing the procedure on a gay woman, another doctor in the clinic would.


Benitez says, however, that after 11 months of costly, painful tests and surgeries, when the time came for the insemination procedure, she was turned down and told that she "would not be treated fairly" or "get timely care" at the clinic because of Dr. Brody's and other staff members' religious beliefs.


The doctors' lawyer, Carlo Coppo, said his clients were committed to fair treatment of Benitez — from fertilization to pregnancy and birth — but that aiding the actual act of conception compromised their religious views.


"[Brody] believes that participating in the [fertilization procedure], she is acting as the male," Coppo said. "It is an elective, invasive procedure, and to be there for the moment of conception, she religiously can't participate."


Benitez's attorney, Jennifer Pizer, said the appeals court ruling was troubling because it opened the door to all kinds of discrimination.


"It certainly is a social problem and a legal problem if someone enters a commercial business and can be told they will not receive the same services that another person can," Pizer said.


Both attorneys agree the case is the first of its kind and tests whether a doctor can choose who to treat based on religious beliefs.


Coppo says denying doctors their religious rights is also a form of discrimination, and that the law allows doctors to choose who they treat consistent with their religious convictions as long as they offer alternative means for care.


Pizer says a doctor's religious freedoms should not come at the expense of a patient's care.


When the case goes to trial, a jury will also be asked to decide if Benitez was denied the fertilization procedure because of her sexual orientation or her marital status.


In 2000, California's Unruh Civil Rights Law protected sexual orientation from discrimination by businesses, but not marital status.


Coppo said Benitez's marital status was the issue — as lesbians, she and her domestic partner are not legally married. Pizer, however, said sexual orientation was always the factor and the defendants' language in court documents will prove that.

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Posted: Tuesday December 13, 2005, 2:56 am
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Kicka P. (358)
Tuesday December 13, 2005, 3:07 am
My question here and now, is: Are Christians beginning to flex their muscles, all because we have a so-called Christian President? or, are we looking at a new wave of people panicing to protect their religious rights? Whats going on here?

Past Member (0)
Tuesday December 13, 2005, 5:58 am
Wait, they can't be there for the conception part, but they're doctors that do in vitro for a living. Wouldn't that mean they can't be there for any conception? Wow, those doctors are really bad at double-talk.

Michael K. (146)
Monday January 9, 2006, 2:30 am
I actually can't believe this happened. What a waste of time, they should have refered her to a clinic that would have helped her. I think this is very wrong, I hope she is able to have a child after all this. Hugs to you for going through all this. Children are a gift, and she desearves to be able to have them too.

Phillipe Bojorquez (8)
Friday February 10, 2006, 2:45 pm
Wow this is an intense moment. While i belive in being able to live by the conviction of your beliefs i.e. religion i also belive in equall treatment for all parties involved. If you are unwilling to treat a patient like everyone else you need to have special exemption under the freedmon of religon act. And it needs to be publically posted somewhere. Also, To be told that my collegue can help where as i cannot and then to be told well that isnt true after ive collected your money shows a weak set of morals to begin with.

gayle p. (2)
Wednesday March 28, 2007, 7:22 pm
Quit whining and just take responsibility and get another doctor. What's the problem? Some people are gay and some people are straight...that goes for doctors too. Get it?

Past Member (0)
Saturday April 28, 2007, 8:02 pm
I agre w/ this quote: "a doctor's religious freedoms should not come at the expense of a patient's care."

The lez' couple should just take the simple rout though, and simply find a willing doctor.

Jay Bolo (0)
Saturday October 24, 2009, 12:04 pm
It's crazy when you hear all these horror stories about someone trying to learn about artificial insemination that are not the standard couple. Hopefully one of these days this will stop.


Kicka P.
female, age 51, single, 4 children
Chicago, IL, USA
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