Advocates for Faith and Freedom News Release

Advocates for Faith and Freedom News Release
Contact Joni Rogers:  951.304.7583

California Supreme Court – Unmarried lesbian woman asks Court to tell physicians to ignore their faith regarding artificial insemination

Court Date:      May 28, 2008
Location:         California Supreme Court
350 McAllister
San Francisco, California
Time:               9:00 a.m.

Issue to be decided:      Does a physician have a constitutional right to refuse on religious grounds to perform a medical procedure for a patient because of the patient’s sexual orientation?

Attorneys will be available for questions immediately following the hearing on the courthouse steps on the McAllister side of the courthouse.   A copy of the briefs may be viewed here.

SAN FRANCISCO — A California appeals court previously ruled that two San Diego physicians may assert a Constitutional defense, based on their religious and moral beliefs, to a lawsuit brought by an unmarried female patient claiming that the two Ob/GYNs discriminated against her based on her sexual orientation by referring her to another physician for the performance of an IUI (intrauterine insemination) in the course of fertility treatment.  The California Supreme Court will hold oral arguments on Wednesday, May 28, 2008, and review the lower court’s decision.

“Our federal and state constitutions protect the free exercise of religion,” said Carlo Coppo, trial attorney for Christine Brody, M.D., and Douglas Fenton, M.D.  “The restoration of the religious liberty defense is critical to allowing the physicians to tell their story and ensure a fair trial.”

“The doctors have constitutional rights of conscience and religious liberty that cannot be swept under the rug,” added Robert Tyler, general counsel for Advocates for Faith and Freedom.

Dr. Brody began treating Ms. Benitez in August 1999 for infertility and informed the patient at the outset that the only procedure during the course of the extended fertility treatment as to which she had a religious issue was an IUI.  An IUI is an elective, invasive procedure wherein the physician introduces donated sperm with the aim of achieving insemination and creating life.  The defendants contend that Ms. Benitez and her partner understood and agreed to a referral to another physician, at no expense to Ms. Benitez, should the IUI become necessary.  When other fertility protocols were unsuccessful, Ms. Benitez objected to the IUI referral contending that she was being discriminated against because she was a lesbian.

The procedure Dr. Brody followed was the same procedure adopted by the California Legislature in a statute protecting pharmacists from being forced by their employers to dispense the morning-after pill due to their religious beliefs.  Dr. Fenton was not directly involved in the patient’s fertility treatment.

The lawsuit, Guadalupe T. Benitez v. North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group, Inc., et al., was originally filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego on Dec. 7, 2001.   Advocates for Faith and Freedom and Alliance Defense Fund joined the law firms of DiCaro, Coppo & Popcke and Cole Pedroza, LLP, in defense of the litigation.

Mr. Kenny Pedroza, who will argue the case before the Court on behalf of the doctors, stated, “This precedent setting case may have a significant impact on the medical community in the future.”
Advocates for Faith and Freedom
24910 Las Brisas Road, Suite 110   Murrieta, CA 92562
Ph: 951.304.7583   Fax: 951.600.4996

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