A Path to Accommodating Sexual Orientation and Protecting Religious Freedom?

Conn Carroll /

On Monday, in North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group v. Benitez, the California Supreme Court ruled that two fertility doctors could not, without violating California’s civil rights laws, decline to artificially inseminate a lesbian woman because of the doctors’ deeply held religious beliefs about children being born with both a father and mother.

The case was billed by many as a fundamental clash between California’s interest in accommodating sexual orientation and a longstanding civil rights tradition protecting medical professionals’ conscientious objections in certain contexts. And indeed it was. However, although the Court ultimately concluded that the doctors’ religious beliefs were outweighed by the lesbian woman’s access to elective infertility treatment in this case (these doctors worked for the only in-network provider of infertility care in the lesbian woman’s health plan), did the Court – intentionally or unintentionally – also hand civil libertarians who defend religious liberties certain important, if incremental, victories? (more…)