Monday, August 18, 2008

California Supreme Court ruling on doctors

From FoxNews [boldface mine]:

SAN FRANCISCO — California's highest court on Monday barred doctors from invoking their religious beliefs as a reason to deny treatment to gays and lesbians, ruling that state law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination extends to the medical profession.

The ruling was unanimous and a succinct 18 pages, a contrast to the state Supreme Court's 4-3 schism in May legalizing gay marriage.

Justice Joyce Kennard wrote in the ruling that two Christian fertility doctors who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian have neither a free speech right nor a religious exemption from the state's law, which "imposes on business establishments certain antidiscrimination obligations."

In the lawsuit that led to the ruling, Guadalupe Benitez, 36, of Oceanside said that the doctors treated her with fertility drugs and instructed her how to inseminate herself at home but told her their beliefs prevented them from inseminating her. One of the doctors referred her to another fertility specialist without moral objections and Benitez has since given birth to three children.

Nevertheless, Benitez in 2001 sued the Vista-based North Coast Women's Care Medical Group. She and her lawyers successfully argued that a state law prohibiting businesses from discriminating based on sexual orientation applies to doctors.

The law was originally designed to prevent hotels, restaurants and other public services from refusing to serve patrons because of their race. The Legislature has since expanded it to cover characteristics such as age and sexual orientation. . .

Read it all (and remember, same sex "marriage" is now legal in California, so if clergy refuse to perform a religious ceremony for two persons of the same sex, will they be sued? I'm sure there's a test case being prepped right now).

And I really dislike the Fox headline "California Top Court: Doctors Cannot Withhold Care From Gays" because it implies all medical treatment is being denied because of one's sexual behavior, but no one is denying any necessary or life-saving treatment here. The doctors did not withhold "care" - they did not want to perform optional, non-life saving treatment and referred the patient to a doctor who would do the procedure - quite a difference!

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