Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Case Law Development: Access to Fertility Treatments by Lesbians

The California Supreme Court has unamiously ruled medical personnel’s claims to First Amendment rights (based on religion and speech) must yield to the state’s anti-discrimination law in the provision of medical services, including fertility treatments.  As stated by the court in its August 18, 2008 opinion:

Do the rights of religious freedom and free speech, as guaranteed in both the federal and the California Constitutions, exempt a medical clinic’s physicians from complying with the California Unruh Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation?  Our answer is no.

The case was based upon a doctor’s refusal to perform intrauterine insemination on the plaintiff, Guadalupe Benitez, because the doctor’s religious beliefs precluded her from performing the procedure on a lesbian, or perhaps on an unmarried woman. 

North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group, Inc. v. Superior Court, (California  Supreme Court, August 18, 2008)
Read the opinion online (last visited August 19, 2008  RR)

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