Is your doctor playing judge?

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June 12, 2007


"...It's not always easy talking to your doctor about sex. Whether you're asking about birth control, STDs or infertility, these discussions can be tinged with self-consciousness, even embarrassment. Now imagine those same conversations, but supercharged by the anxiety that your doctor might respond with moral condemnation ? and actually refuse your requests.

"That's exactly what's happening in medical offices and hospitals around the country: Catholic and conservative Christian health care providers are denying women a range of standard, legal medical care.

"...In a recent case in San Diego, an appeals court ruled against 35-year-old Guadalupe Benitez. Hoping to start a family with her lesbian partner, Benitez received fertility treatments for nearly a year at North Coast Women's Care Medical Group in Encinitas. But when drugs and home inseminations failed, two doctors and a nurse all bowed out of doing an intrauterine insemination, saying their religion would not allow it.

"Their reasoning is in dispute: Benitez has claimed both doctors told her they objected to her sexual orientation.

"Her attorney, Jennifer C. Pizer of Lambda Legal in Los Angeles, says she's heard from numerous lesbians denied access to fertility treatments. 'Reproductive medicine has given human beings choices that didn't exist in previous generations, but the rules about how we exercise those choices should be the same for all groups of people,' she argues. Allowing doctors to refer a patient to someone else, she adds, is the equivalent of a restaurant telling a black person, 'Go next door. We don't serve your kind here.'"