California Catholic Conference files brief in conscientious objection case


The California Catholic Conference has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in a case now pending before the state Supreme Court. The justices will decide whether a physician has a constitutional right to refuse, on religious grounds, to perform a medical procedure for a patient because of the patient’s sexual orientation, reported The California Catholic.

The case involves two Vista physicians, who were sued for discrimination after allegedly refusing to artificially inseminate a lesbian.

The two doctors, Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton of North Coast Women's Care Medical Group of Vista, were sued in San Diego Superior Court in 2001 by Guadalupe Benitez.

Benitez claim the physicians refused to artificially inseminate her after 11 months of fertility treatments when she told them she was a lesbian. Benitez argues that the doctors violated the state’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Brody and Fenton, among other defenses, claim they did not refuse to artificially inseminate Benitez because of her sexual orientation, but instead because she was not married. The two doctors said their religious convictions would not permit them to perform the procedure on an unmarried woman.

Brody and Fenton did refer Benitez to another physician and the patient ultimately became pregnant, according to court records.

The case has caused a flood of friend-of-the-court briefs on both sides of the issue, reported The California Catholic. Eleven groups joined the California Catholic Conference in submitting briefs. Some include: the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians & Gynecologists, the Islamic Medical Association of North America, Catholic Exchange Inc., Human Life International, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church State Council, and the Christian Legal Society.

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