Hearing on lesbian health care denial

May 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A lesbian's fight to have a baby through in vitro fertilization is at the heart of a case being heard in the State Supreme Court in San Francisco. She's suing a medical group for refusing her fertility treatment on the grounds of religious beliefs.

What the Supreme Court justices have to decide is is whether or not the doctors have a constitutional religious right to refuse to perform a procedure because the woman in this case is a lesbian.

Lupe Benitez received prep treatments for 11 months at a clinic in Southern California before doctors told her they wouldn't perform the procedure because she is a lesbian. Her attorney argues that if doctors offer a service to one patient they have to offer it to another. If they don't, that is clear discrimination.

The attorneys say they shouldn't have to jeopardize religious beliefs in order to provide a service.

She said at the first meeting, 'I provide the services to some people, I won t for you. Someone else will come in and do it.' That didn't happen and that illustrates part of the problem of allowing discrimination instead of a rule that all service providers need to treat people equally," says Benitez's attorney Jennifer Pizer.

"We have two physicians that have been sued, not for what they did, but what was disclosde today a patient concerning their religious belief," says the doctor's attorney Kenneth Pedroza.

Benitez and her partner eventually went to another facility and became parents. She is claiming that she was discriminated against based on her sexual orientation. Whether or not the doctors can claim religious defense is now in the hands of the Supreme Court justices. They have 90 days to make a ruling.


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