Benitez v. North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group

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The California Supreme Court just came down with its decision  in this case. This is the case of Guadalupe Benitez, a lesbian woman who, with her partner, decided to get pregnant. After a few failed tries at self-insemination, Benitez visited North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group, whose physicians advised that intrauterine insemination might be necessary for her to become pregnant, but ultimately refused to perform the procedure on religious grounds. Benitez filed suit against the physicians on a number of grounds, including violation of California’s public accommodations law, which requires nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in business establishments. In their answer, the doctors who treated Benitez asserted that application of the public accommodations law to them would violate their right to free exercise of religion under the federal and state constitutions. In the opinion issued today, the California Supreme Court decided that application of the public accommodations law’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation to the physicians would not violate their right to free exercise of religion. Accordingly, the California Supreme Court upheld the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to Benitez on this particular defense.

This is a notable victory; however, there are still outstanding issues to be decided in the case.

-Tony Infanti

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