Court: Docs Can't Withhold Care from Gays

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Doctors cannot use religious beliefs as a reason to deny services to homosexuals, California's highest court ruled Monday.

California's Supreme Court justices unanimously agreed that two Christian doctors at a San Diego clinic were wrong for refusing fertility treatment to a lesbian patient because of their convictions.

What can California voters do now?  Peter Ferrara, with the American Civil Rights Union, spoke with CBN News about this case and what can be done to protect religious freedoms in  the future.  Click play to listen to the full interview.

The ruling came just three months after gay marriage was legalized in the state and contributes to a list of state anti-discrimination laws that prohibit businesses from treating customers differently because of their sexual orientation, race, sex or religion.

Peter Ferrara with the American Civil Rights Union warned that this ruling is just one of many in a slippery slope of cases across the nation against religious freedoms. Ferrara had filed a friend-in-court brief, in favor of the North Coast clinic.

"The California Supreme Court decision greatly depreciates the Constitution's protection for freedom of religion," he told CBN News. "Even though the Christian doctors cooperated in getting [her] the service that she wanted, they are still denied any protection."

"[This case] means that these anti-discrimination provisions are more important than constitutional protection for freedom of religion," he later added.

Benitez Case

In 2000, Guadalupe Benitez sued two San Diego doctors from the North Coast Women's Care Medical Group for refusing to perform an artificial insemination on her. Benitez had three children before through in-vitro treatments, but had to go outside of her insurance network to do so.

She claimed that Drs. Doug Fenton and Christine Brody from the insurance-covered clinic "promised" to provide her treatment, but "dumped" her because she was a lesbian.

Both Fenton and Brody held that they would not perform the procedure on a single woman and instead referred her to someone else. Benitez then sued the clinic and doctors. The case eventually made its way to the California Supreme Court

Benitez argues that the decision is a victory over homosexual discrimination.

"Anyone could be the next target if doctors are allowed to pick and choose their patients based on religious views about other groups of people," she said.

Voters Can Take Charge

Although the case cannot be challenged further in court, Ferrara says California residents can take charge legislatively to provide further protections for religious convictions.

"Voters in California should demand that an exemption be added to the law for people who are pursuing their sincerely held religous beliefs, rather than engaging in some sort of overt discrimination," he said. "Voters should get active, be aggressive and demand changes."

Read the ruling of North Cost Women's Care Medical Group vs. Superior Court here.

Sources: CBN News, San Francisco Chronicle, The Associated Press

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