Doctors settle case for denying lesbian treatment

Liz De La Torre

From The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO – A California woman has settled a lawsuit against her former doctors who denied her artificial insemination based on her sexual orientation, attorneys for both sides said Tuesday.

Guadalupe Benitez, 36, of Oceanside, and her spouse sued doctors at North Coast Women’s Medical Group in Vista for discrimination in 2001. California‘s highest court last year barred the Christian doctors from invoking religious beliefs, ruling state law prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination extends to the medical profession.

Attorneys for the doctors and Benitez said that they settled the case for an undisclosed sum of money.

The doctors said in a statement that they want all of their patients, including those who are lesbian and gay, to feel welcome in their medical practice.

Benitez has said the doctors treated her with fertility drugs and instructed her how to inseminate herself at home, but told her their beliefs prevented them from inseminating her.

One of the doctors referred her to another fertility specialist who didn’t have moral objections. Benitez has since given birth to three children.

“It’s been a long, hard fight to get to this point,” Benitez said following the settlement announcement. “But we know we’ve made a difference in the law that will help people in California and across the country.”

The statement issued by North Coast was encouraging, said Jennifer Pizer, Benitez’s attorney.

“It shows a journey that our whole society is taking together, away from intolerance and towards inclusion,” she said.