Jump to content
The Talon House

Calif. Drs. Rethink Position On Gay Medical Care


Recommended Posts

Calif. Drs. Rethink Position On Gay Medical Care

by Mary Ellen Peterson 365Gay.com San Francisco Bureau

Posted: August 2, 2005 11:01 am ET

(San Francisco, California) The California Medical Association is reportedly reconsidering its position that doctors and medical clinics have the right to refuse treatment on moral grounds.

The CMA had submitted a brief in support of the position in a case before the California Court of Appeal in San Diego.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the medical association is considering withdrawing the brief. The paper, quoting Peter Warren, a spokesperson for the CMA, says that the Association did not realize at the time that the suit involved the denial of service to a lesbian couple.

The details, Warren tells the Chronicle, did not become known to the CMA until it learned that one of the doctors being sued had testified under oath that she would not inseminate "a gay couple."

"We're re-examining (our brief) based on additional facts that came to light," Warren told the Chronicle. "The important thing is for us to make the right decision here and determine whether to be involved in the case."

But, the nature of the case was in the public record long before the CMA made its decision to submit the brief.

The suit involves doctors at a fertility clinic who refused on religious grounds to inseminate their patient, Guadelupe "Lupita" Benitez because she is a lesbian.

Benitez alleges that after she had received 11 months of preparatory treatment from the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group clinic in San Diego, and at "the critical and brief moment when Benitez needed to be inseminated", doctors Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton refused to inseminate her.

Both Brody and Fenton said that because of their personal religious beliefs about gay people, they would not administer the treatment Benitez had been promised. In court papers the doctors also say they object to treating unmarried heterosexual women and they claim that their fundamentalist Christian beliefs exempt them from California's civil rights laws.

Benitez's lawsuit was thrown out of state court initially, but she won an appeal two years ago with the court saying that patients can sue health care providers who discriminate against them based on their sexual orientation, and that federal law does not exempt health care providers from state civil rights laws. That unanimous state appeals court decision set an important precedent as the first ruling of its kind in the nation. (story)

With that ruling allowing her to proceed, Benitez' case returned to the trial court, where Lambda Legal represented her as co-counsel.

Last fall, Benitez won a legal ruling in the trial court saying that doctors in a for-profit medical group must comply with California's anti-discrimination laws, and treat all patients equally, whatever the doctors' personal religious beliefs may be.

The doctors being sued asked the Court of Appeal in San Diego to review that ruling before trial, and the court ordered both sides to submit briefs. The CMA brief in support of the doctors was then filed with the court in May.

The Christian Medical and Dental Associations have also filed amicus briefs supporting the doctors.

Last week, Lambda Legal filed its response to those briefs, arguing that it is unethical to pick and choose who receives medical services. (story)

On Monday, in a separate case, the California Supreme Court ruled that businesses cannot discriminate against same-sex couples. (story)

The case involved lesbian couple who were denied a family membership at a San Diego country club.

©365Gay.com 2005


Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...