CMA Withdraws Brief in Support of Physicians Declining To Provide Fertility Treatment
The California Medical Association has withdrawn an appellate court brief supporting the position of physicians at the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group who cited religious beliefs in declining to artificially inseminate a lesbian, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/21).
CMA in May filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the physicians' right to argue in court that they should not be required to treat Guadalupe Benitez because inseminating an unmarried woman contradicted their religious convictions (California Healthline, 8/3).
CMA spokesperson Peter Warren and CEO Jack Lewin said the group withdrew its brief because it needed to be clarified and because of a state Supreme Court ruling this summer stating a California civil rights law requires businesses to treat domestic partners as married spouses.
CMA is trying to file a new brief, stating that neither Benitez's sexual orientation nor marital status were medically relevant to determining whether she should receive the treatment she sought.
The brief, which was drafted by Kaiser Permanente attorneys, states, "CMA does not condone invidious discrimination by physicians, including discrimination of patients based upon sexual orientation." However, the brief states that "physicians should not be liable for discriminating on bases that are medically relevant or for violating standards that were not established at the time of their actions."
The clerk of the state's Fourth District Court of Appeals in San Diego has rejected the brief because it was filed too late to be considered before oral arguments scheduled to begin on Oct. 11. Gay rights advocates plan to challenge the rejection (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/21).