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    Doctors deny treatment on religious grounds


    by Al-Hack on 6th December, 2005 at 1:58 pm    

    A United States appeal court has backed two fertility doctors who refused to treat a lesbian patient because it would have violated their religious beliefs.

    The woman, Guadalupe Benitez, sued the doctors after she was turned down for artificial insemination in 1999. She claimed that on her first visit to the women’s clinic in a suburb of San Diego, California, one of the doctors, Christine Brody, told her that she would not perform the procedure on a lesbian because of her faith.

    The appeal court ruling allows the doctors to use religious liberty as a defence in the anti-discrimination lawsuit. The decision overturned a lower court ruling.

    The Guardian reports. Hah! You thought a Muslim was involved didn’t you? You won’t see LGF or Dhimmiwatch fretting about this case, that’s for sure.

    The San Jose Mercury News adds that it probably won’t stop there.

    An attorney for a gay rights group said the decision would be appealed to the California Supreme Court.

    “We fear this decision is going to worsen the confusion in the minds of the public about whether you can legally discriminate in the name of religion,” said Jennifer Pizer, attorney for Lambda Legal Defense. “The bottom line is that you should not be able to treat patients in a discriminatory way.”

    The case appears to be the first in the country in which a gay or lesbian patient was allowed to sue doctors over charges that treatment was denied based on sexual orientation.

    It will be interesting to see how the Supreme court reacts, though one would definitely hope that it rules against the doctor. If you are signing up to be a doctor pal, leave your religion at home - your job should be to treat patients.



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    45 Comments below   |  

    1. Mirax — on 6th December, 2005 at 3:07 pm  

      “Hah! You thought a Muslim was involved didn’t you?”

      Not at all. The opening statement gave the game away at once. Xtian fundies. Like the anti-abortion xtian fundie pharmacists who refuse to dispense the morning after pill. Too much xtian fundie stupidity in the US.

    2. j0nz — on 6th December, 2005 at 3:45 pm  

      Yeh agreed LOL…

      You started off ‘A United States appeal court’. This DOES have implications for Muslims though. One rule for all, and all that. Jeez the US can be crazy…

    3. j0nz — on 6th December, 2005 at 3:48 pm  

      Although I must admit you did have me going on the initial screen ;)

    4. pregethwr — on 6th December, 2005 at 4:46 pm  

      hmmm In this country catholic doctors often refuse to have anything to do with abortion, and the NHS doesn’t force them, there is usually a pragmatic procedure for sending people to see a colleuge who will.

      one of the main problems with the current abortion laws.

    5. sonia — on 6th December, 2005 at 4:51 pm  

      silly people.. yeah okay they dont have to treat them in person mebbe get someone else to do it, but still they cant be denied treatment and not referred to someone else!

    6. Robert — on 6th December, 2005 at 5:02 pm  

      Its slightly odd that two Christian fundamentalists would be working in a fertility clinic anyway. I would have thought that artificial insemination is pretty much ‘playing God’…

      … although on second thoughts, the idea that someone could simply be infertile probably doesn’t occur to them: Perhaps infetility is simply a ‘psycological disease’ that can be cured if you hang around with enough fertile people.

    7. nukh — on 6th December, 2005 at 5:32 pm  

      as much as i respect the rights of a person to have children with whoever they please…..i alos respect the rights of the physician to refuse [unless a matter of life and death] to reneder treatment or as in this case induce pregnancy.

      why not just go to a different doctor and save your blog some ink space……

    8. Robert — on 6th December, 2005 at 6:19 pm  

      why not just go to a different doctor and save your blog some ink space

      Nukh, if everyone were free and able to go to whichever doctor they chose, then I would agree with you. But since we live in an imperfect world, we expect the state to iron out some of the differences - in this case, ensuring that everyone has access to broadly the same standard of healthcare.

      Denial of treatment to lesbians is a very interesting topic, because it is a classic moral dilemma of a clash of interests: the lesbian’s right to have children (which the law of the land says she has) and the doctors’ rights to their beliefs and religion (which the law says they have). The real issue isn’t actually where Ms Benitez gets her treatment, but whether the doctors’ public duties outweigh their religious duties.

      Since these overlaps of incompatible beliefs and lifestyles occurs on public ground (in this case, the US healthcare system, and the California Supreme Court) it is therefore political issue that should be discussed by as many people as possible. I would suggest that this blog is the perfect forum, and not a waste of ink (sic) space at all.

      By contrast, the peice from the The Dawn is much less weighty a topic. Either the girls mentioned are there against their will, or they are freely converting to Islam. Sure, finding out the truth is not easy, but the argument is over a matter of fact, not of morals. The Benitez case is interesting because although we know everyone is telling the truth and being honest to themselves, the answer to the conundrum is still not clear.

    9. Rohin — on 6th December, 2005 at 6:20 pm  

      Religion and medicine shouldn’t mix. This is another reason why I’ve had so many run ins with the Islamic Soc and the Christian Medical Fellowship (nutters). Will write more later.

      Nukh, what the hell has that got to do with anything? If you want to post up random things, start your own blog - I’m serious, I’ll read it. But stay on topic…and you advise US to save ink.

    10. nukh — on 6th December, 2005 at 7:04 pm  

      rohin, you should seriously consider medication……you sound like the whiny kid who owns the bat….and would let the other kids play only if he was allowed to bat twice.
      rohin: my blog, my blog, my blog!!
      i am gonna tell my mommy that nukh is messing up my blog……i am so smart, i love to hear my own voice or in this case read my pontificating writing…………

    11. nukh — on 6th December, 2005 at 7:06 pm  

      did nukh do boo boo to rohin.baba?…make mommy kiss the boo boo rohin….boo boo feel good……and then maybe rohin baba can go for ice cweam

    12. Sunny — on 6th December, 2005 at 7:14 pm  

      Nukh - please stop being an annoying little rodent. You’re increasingly a one trick pony like Blue Mountain who has little inability to discuss the issue at hand, instead trying to push your own agenda.

      Play by the rules and you can discuss, otherwise as Rohin said - find your own blog. Stop whining like an annoying clown.

    13. Soniyeh — on 6th December, 2005 at 7:14 pm  

      i thought nukh’s point was valid; sometimes it IS difficult to reconcile religious beliefs with certain medical procedures like abortion. However, in the end we are all people and it should be the case that we can all get medical treatment, gay or not. Personally im not sure about the morals artificial insemination for gays thing - but on principle i think the woman ought to have been treated.

    14. El Cid — on 6th December, 2005 at 8:16 pm  

      I don’t read the Daily Telegraph, I swear. It was just there, in the dentist’s waiting room. So I took a peek and I came across something far more ridiculous. Taking knives into a classroom is now a religious right? Where have I been all this time?
      At the risk of going off tangent and being admonished for it, what about this for another modern twist on discrimination? Check this out. Do you think teachers have a right to refuse to teach a kid who insists on bringing a knife to class?
      Please tell me this article is pure right-wing claptrap.

    15. Mirax — on 6th December, 2005 at 8:38 pm  

      No Cid, it is not. Unfortunately. Different rules seem to be made for different groups of people, especially when religious sensitivities are involved.

      “Education officials were unrepentant, however, and said that Sikhs are required by religion to wear items of jewellery, whereas Christians are not.”

      Really? Wearing a bracelet/dagger is a “Requirement” and hence okay but not a crucifix? Then the argument shifts when precocious muslim schoolgirls refuse to attend school without their jilbabs which, er, are NOT a “Requirement” but deemed an expression of their religious rights.
      If it were up to me, I’d ban all religious expressions/symbols from schools. Every single one of them.

    16. El Cid — on 6th December, 2005 at 11:02 pm  

      Actually, I’m erring towards the idea that it’s bollox. The Telegraph had a picture of this dagger-thing but it seems to be no more than a bracelet. Apols for wasting metaphorical ink on PP.
      I can wear my crucifix in peace after all.

    17. Sunny — on 6th December, 2005 at 11:15 pm  

      Ok, let me clear that up for you.

      El Cid, have a look here.

    18. Ken — on 7th December, 2005 at 12:37 am  

      So much for the Hippocratic Oath!!!

    19. Sakshi — on 7th December, 2005 at 9:26 am  

      What fucking assholes !! And these people are in the profession of saving and improving lives.

      We are so surrounded by sick-minded individuals…who give faith and religion a bad name.

    20. SajiniW — on 7th December, 2005 at 9:36 am  

      Whilst gay people pay taxes and contribute to society the way the rest of us do, I would be equally reluctant to promise fertility treatment to someone who has CHOSEN to be in a non-reproductive relationship.

    21. Robert — on 7th December, 2005 at 11:40 am  

      I would be equally reluctant to promise fertility treatment to someone who has CHOSEN to be in a non-reproductive relationship.

      Woefully off the mark, SanjiniW. Chat to any LGBT person, and they will tell you that their sexual preferences are a natural part of them, not chosen. For many homosexuals, the realisation that you cannot have children with the people you are attracted to is the primary cause of angst.

      In fact, I might go so far as to say that whilst religious people pay taxes and contribute to society the way the rest of us do, I would be equally relucant to give special treatment to someone who has CHOSEN an intolerant faith…

      See the problem?

    22. Mirax — on 7th December, 2005 at 11:58 am  

      “reluctant to promise fertility treatment to someone who has CHOSEN to be in a non-reproductive relationship. ”

      I do hope that you are not in a position to make that decision, Sajini becaue it reeks of callousness and a lack of thought.

      Increasing numbers of heterosexual women have delayed childbearing until their late thirties or forties due to choice (I am simplifying but wish to show that there is more real CHOICE in this situation than with gays)and then find themselves afflicted with the attendent fertility problems.

      Would you be ‘equally reluctant’ to make such treatment available to those reckless enough to have wilfully wasted so many reproductive opportunities?

    23. Rohin — on 7th December, 2005 at 12:50 pm  

      Nukh, I find it rather disappointing that after I was courteous and polite to you (having never been anything otherwise) you have a puerile tantrum and come out with erudite retorts like “why don’t you go fuck yourself”. Soniyeh, Nukh’s post has been edited, so what you see we have no objection to. He actually posted an entire article (not a link) on conversion in Pakistan. Hence you can see my objection to it being relevant to a post about American doctors.

      Nukh, try to see this blog as a newspaper. We select topics that we think are interesting and we are very interested to hear everyone’s views. The advantage over a paper is that feedback is instant. It’s not, however, a free-for-all. I gave you some genuine advice, if you start a blog then you can post whatever you like about Muslims being scum and Pakistan being hell. I’ve got my own (shit) one and no one edits it apart from me. You’re quite welcome here AS LONG AS YOU STAY ON TOPIC.

      Saj, what if a man married a woman whose had a premature hysterectomy - that’s a non-reproductive relationship. But they’d be allowed treatment. At the end of the day, a woman has a choice as to whether to get pregnant, no relationship need be involved. Isn’t it preferable to give a woman a safe medical treatment than to force her to have a one night stand or the equivalent?

      Having said all this, I’d still advise wannabe parents to consider adoption as the first choice. There are a lot of kids going parentless.

    24. El Cid — on 7th December, 2005 at 2:56 pm  

      My my. Haven’t we come a long way since the following was considered hilarious satire. Click here I’m beginning to feel old.

    25. Col. Mustafa — on 7th December, 2005 at 3:55 pm  

      Ive been told by many to watch the life of Brian.
      After reading that im definitely watching it.

      Thats hilarious dialogue.

    26. Rohin — on 7th December, 2005 at 3:57 pm  

      The Life of Brian was a seminal moment in film and cultural history. Shame on you Mustafa!

    27. Col. Mustafa — on 7th December, 2005 at 4:10 pm  

      I know i know, i just never got round to it.
      Plus no one told me with force that this is a good film.
      I had to actually read a scene from the film to realise.
      Completely oblivious to the world around me.

    28. Siddharth — on 7th December, 2005 at 4:40 pm  

      Whilst gay people pay taxes and contribute to society the way the rest of us do, I would be equally reluctant to promise fertility treatment to someone who has CHOSEN to be in a non-reproductive relationship.

      Thats a pretty un-progressive sentiment given that Sajini is one of the PP’s regular contributors. Add ‘homophobe’ to the list “literati, muso, foodie, fashionista and shopaholic”.

    29. Rohin — on 7th December, 2005 at 5:10 pm  

      Oooh fighting talk!

    30. El Cid — on 7th December, 2005 at 5:24 pm  

      What about the child’s rights?
      I mean, don’t boys — especially — need fathers?

    31. Col. Mustafa — on 7th December, 2005 at 5:38 pm  

      I wouldn’t of minded two mums.
      I wonder what its like to have two lesbian mums, and two gay dads.
      It must be quite fun, family arguments could be quite intense though.

      Im gonna try find a gay partner, and then 2 lesbian partners and then either adopt loads of children or hope the lesbians both have twins.

    32. Rohin — on 7th December, 2005 at 5:40 pm  

      El Cid, I would strongly disagree that all boys need fathers.

    33. Don — on 7th December, 2005 at 5:56 pm  

      I find it hard to see why someone who has religious convictions which will bring them into conflict with the mores of society (in this case not discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation), chooses a field where that issue is bound to arise.

      OK, I can see where a medico might have moral objections to abortion, but I gather the NHS can accomodate that. Correct me if I’m wrong.

      But in this case they were ok with the procedure, it was the patients they objected to. Having a religion does not give you the right to condemn someone as unworthy in the public sphere. Where law and religion conflict, the law must take precedence. Although apparently not.

      Also, why make it an issue? What’s wrong with ‘Sorry, fully booked. Try so-and-so.’ Unless they got a righteous buzz from putting these sinners in their place.

      El Cid; can’t agree. Some of the fathers I’ve had dealings with are the last thing any kid needs about the place. Besides, they don’t always stick around. I would guess that gay parenting has not been common long enough for proper studies, but I’d be suprised if the kids were any more screwed up than the rest of us.

      Re; the cross thing. Isn’t it time someone came up with a name for situations where well-meaning officials cause an needless and counter-productive fuss to avoid offending people who were never going to be offended in the first place? I dunno, Nativity-play syndrome?

    34. El Cid — on 7th December, 2005 at 5:57 pm  

      Sure, ALL boys don’t need fathers. They can make do without. But are we going to make that decision for them before they are born?

    35. El Cid — on 7th December, 2005 at 5:59 pm  

      Luckily for me, a lot of women — indeed, I would venture to say most in my experience — agree with me.

    36. sonia — on 7th December, 2005 at 6:02 pm  

      well its not a biological thing re: fathers is it really its about having good role models (!) around - someone who is close and takes the kid out to play and stuff like that can suffice really. Better than having a crap dad who’s never around anyway.

    37. Rohin — on 7th December, 2005 at 6:06 pm  

      No of course the ideal situation is a mum and dad. I don’t know if that will offend same sex couples, but that’s my opinion. But if single mothers can raise kids perfectly well, then why should we consider two women in a different category?

      Don you’re right - they get a righteous buzz. About going into the profession, interesting one. Well one explanation is that uni is often the time in a person’s life when their opinions are galvanised. Several of my mates were hardcore boozers and soon became pious teetotal Muslims/zealous Christians. So perhaps they went into medschool without these thoughts. But then again - SOMEBODY must’ve gone in thinking these things, in order to infect convert the rest.

      A Muslim colleague told me he would not advise his patients to use condoms as a GP. Now this is very dangerous. Whilst abortion, as you say, can be covered within the NHS (simply refer to another obstetrician who is willing to do it), patients are not party to more than one GP. Abortion is one thing, contraception is another matter altogether. Suffice to say, this guy’s a tit.

    38. Don — on 7th December, 2005 at 6:11 pm  

      ‘Luckily for me, a lot of women — indeed, I would venture to say most in my experience — agree with me.’

      Does this mean the country will soon be over-run by swarms of little El Cid’s?

    39. El Cid — on 7th December, 2005 at 6:13 pm  

      Please stop this PC naivety. I agree that there are a lot of crap dads in the world, but most of it is due precisely to their absence. That’s the point.
      So who is going to teach an unruly boy about handling all that testotorone flowing around their bodies — who is going to teach them to become a man?
      I am more than happy to have a female boss, a female president, a female-driven TV agenda of shallow gossip and internal decorating, female friends who are just friends, read female authors, have a female plumber fix my pipes, a female referee.
      I marvel at the exploits of Ellen MacArthur, Kelly Holmes et al.
      But I will not accept when people say there are no biological differences between men and women when there clearly are. If they weren’t , women wouldn’t fancy men, now would they?

    40. El Cid — on 7th December, 2005 at 6:14 pm  

      Three kids is enough Don, believe me!!

    41. El Cid — on 7th December, 2005 at 6:16 pm  

      sorry guys you were writing while I was writing so timing a bit skew-whiff

    42. El Cid — on 7th December, 2005 at 6:22 pm  

      nativity-play syndrome — hey, I like dat. i’ll use it Don if you do.

    43. El Cid — on 7th December, 2005 at 10:44 pm  

      I should add before I log off that girls need their dad to, coz when puberty calls and the cat-fights with mum begin they will need someone else to turn to (hopefully I won’t be hiding in the shed when that time comes).

    44. SajiniW — on 8th December, 2005 at 9:42 am  

      Rohin - fair point about the premature hysterectomy - it’d be unfair to penalise her for a non-elective procedure. I also agree that orientation is an innate thing and that it’s better to encourage fertility treatment versus a one night stand. Whilst I don’t think being LGBT is going to make someone a worse parent than a heterosexual; I am of the belief that a child needs both male and female role models to prosper. If forced to make decisions on fertility treatment, I’d be objective and give it to the most responsible couple first, be they LGBT or not.

      If personal preference was brought into it, in a situation where the couples were equally responsible, then I’d rather give it to a heterosexual couple, given that evolution made it essential for both a male and female to be involved in order for life to begin. I feel uncomfortable in seeing this circumvented.

      Mirax - In the olden days, people were more accepting of their disabilties, actions and the consequences. There is a current trend to medicate against personal faults/ills - something I disagree with, as I believe in tolerance and Darwinism. I disagree with seeing people use medical science for ’selfish gain’ - e.g. by making a choice to delay reproductivity, they should realise they may need to use fertility treatment and thus deny a life-saving treatment to someone else.

      Siddharth - whilst I’m not a homophobe, per se, I do hold conservative views where nature and science are concerned. I don’t see how progressive necessarily means liberal.

    45. Siddharth — on 8th December, 2005 at 11:46 am  

      SajiniW
      You can be whatever you like, I’m not judging you. But I don’t think conservative is particularly apposite with progressive. But hey, each to their own.

      The best young dad I know is an Asian father of 2 kids. He’s 34 and gay. He always knew he was gay but got married anyway (forced, family, culture etc). A real life Asian Will and Grace - or should I say Walid and Galiya. ;-)

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