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Medical Organizations Unite to Oppose Religiously Based Discrimination in Healthcare

SAN FRANCISCO--April 12, 2007--A group of organizations representing medical professionals filed friend-of-the-court (or “amicus”) brief saying that commonly accepted standards of medical ethics forbid physicians from discrimination against patients on the basis of sexual orientation. The case, which is now before the California Supreme Court, involves fertility doctors who refused on religious grounds to inseminate their patient, Guadelupe “Lupita” Benitez, who is a lesbian.

That amicus brief focuses on relevant medical ethics involved in the case, including those developed by the American Medical Association, which forbid physicians from compromising the civil rights of patients in order to accommodate their own religious beliefs.

“Medical ethics are clear that when a doctor is willing to perform a service for some patients, it’s ethically inappropriate to refuse that service to others in a discriminatory manner,” said GLMA Executive Director Joel Ginsberg. “Religious beliefs provide no exception to ethics and laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation, or other invidious bases.”

“The organizations signing onto this brief have sent an unequivocal message to the Court, to California physicians, and to all California patients that they support the dignity of all patients and are committed to ensuring that medicine does not seek to except itself from medicine’s ethical codes and applicable laws,” said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel in Lambda Legal's Western Regional Office, who is representing Ms. Benitez.

Filing the amicus brief were the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care, and the American Medical Student Association. The amici are represented pro bono by Elizabeth Gill and Angela Padilla of Morrison & Foerster, a firm with over a thousand lawyers in eighteen offices around the world.

The brief is available at www.glma.org/_data/n_0001/resources/live/BenitezBrief.pdf.

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