Doctors’ ‘Conscience’ as Refusal to Provide Medical Care to Lesbians

While in some states, the Right is attempting to establish so-called “conscience clauses” to allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraceptives, one case in California finds a medical clinic – and the Religious Right – attempting to expand that principle to “conscience”-based discrimination against patients, rather than the services they seek. Doctors at an infertility clinic north of San Diego refused to provide a woman with artificial insemination services, citing their religious conviction against birth out of wedlock – and, according to the woman, citing her sexual orientation. California law prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The right-wing Alliance Defense Fund, which is representing the clinic, claims this is a case about the right “to exercise your faith as a Christian.” The woman’s lawyer warned that “The next case may be about whether a doctor is willing to do a pap smear” for a lesbian.”

Other right-wing groups have filed amicus briefs in the case. Peter Ferrara of the American Civil Rights Union defended the doctor’s decision because, he said, it was based on “a commonly held view, well grounded in Christian tradition.” Brian Rooney of the Thomas More Law Center warned that the case “smacks of Nazi Germany when Hitler forced doctors to do diabolical acts that were like this.”