Monday, August 18, 2008

Another inch closer to "liberty and justice for all"

The California Supreme Court decides that a state antidiscrimination law trumps the religious freedom rights of doctors.

SAN FRANCISCO -- -- Doctors may not discriminate against gays and lesbians in medical treatment, even if the procedures being sought conflict with physicians' religious beliefs, the California Supreme Court decided today.
In the second, major gay-rights victory this year, the state high court said religious physicians must obey a state law that bars businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

Read the rest here.


seraph said...


I respectfully disagree with you here. This is not a matter of life saving treatment which should in no case be denied. It is a matter of a patient's choice for fertility treatment trumping a doctor's freedom of concience and religious belief...wether we agree with them or not!

As long as the treatment is available elsewhere in the community and the doctor appropiately refers there should be no grounds for forcing physicians to act against their conscience in a non emergent nor life threatening case! It is akin to a doctor being forced to provide medication to induce an abortion even though it may conflict with his religious belief!

I do not see this as good news for GLBT familes but as bad news for freedom of religion and concience!



RonF said...

If this was in fact actual health care I would have no problem with it. No doctor should be able to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation when they are asked to do something like treat someone for AIDS or a heart attack or a broken leg, etc.

But this is an elective procedure. This is not health care; it is not needed to preserve the health of the person it is being performed on. On that basis I think that a physician should not be required to act against their conscience in such a matter.


Here's the difference for me:

If you don't perform abortions because you don't believe in abortion you don't discriminate about who you don't perform abortions on.

You just don't do them.

Elective procedures are indeed "elective" ... but it seems to me that is beyond the scope of legally protected freedom of religion for a doctor to opt to offer elective procedures to some and not to others, based on faith based bias.

We would never stand for a doctor refusing to offer elective procedures based on race bias. The CA justices have recognized that we cannot stand for orientation based bias either.

It's an important decision and one ... again ... I believe we need to applaud, embrace ... and get ready for the backlash.

IT said...

I agree with Susan. It isn't the procedure that's the question, it's the doctor's unwillingness to perform the procedure only on SOME PEOPLE that is the problem. That isn't an ethical choice about the procedure. That's a choice about the worthiness of the patient. And that's wrong.

And saying that a gay couple can't have this procedure is as wrong as saying that a black couple can't have the procedure. If the state of CA licenses the physician (and they do), then that physician has to provide uniform care. If they don't like it, they can move to a state that allows discrimination against gay folks. God knows there are enough of them.


Unknown said...

Simple question: should a Jewish doctor have the right, based on his religious beliefs, to circumcise male babies regardless of their parents' wishes?

RonF said...

I understand that the Justices of the California Supreme Court consider sexual orientation and race as equivalent. However, I think they are dead wrong. This may have been the correct decision in accordance with California law (at least, as these justices read it), but I think it's pretty shakey from a moral viewpoint.