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California Supreme Court Ruling Threatens Medical Care and Religious Freedom, Says Americans United for Life

CHICAGO, Aug. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The California Supreme Court today ruled that patient demand for nonessential, elective care trumps the freedom of conscience of physicians and their ability to practice medicine in accordance with their religious or moral beliefs.

Denise Burke, Vice President & Legal Director of Americans United for Life (AUL), said, "This ruling will deny physicians and other professionals the ability to freely exercise their religious convictions."

Added Burke, "By forcing healthcare professionals to choose between conscience and career, we will lose doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals who are already in short supply."

Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D., President and CEO of AUL added, "Medical experts already project that existing shortages of nurses, physicians, and pharmacists will soon worsen, failing to meet future healthcare needs. Legal action to compel healthcare providers to participate in procedures to which they conscientiously object threatens to make the already dangerous situation disastrous."

Mailee Smith, AUL Staff Counsel, said, "It defies common sense that a patient would want a doctor to violate his or her conscience in practicing medicine. A diminished physician population is not good for medical care."

The case -- North Coast Women's Care Medical Group v. Superior Court of San Diego County (Benitez) - involves a situation where artificial insemination was not provided due to the marital status of the patient (Ms. Benitez).

Ms. Benitez filed suit arguing that she was not provided the procedure because she is a lesbian. However, the physicians testified that the real issue was her marital status, and that they would not have provided artificial insemination to any single woman.

Ultimately, Ms. Benitez received the procedure from another physician after receiving a referral from the objecting physicians (who paid the additional costs she incurred).

AUL filed an amicus brief in the California Supreme Court on behalf of the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and Physicians for Life, arguing that federal and state law as well as the ethics standards of major medical organizations support the physicians' right to conscientiously object to performing certain nonessential, elective medical procedures that conflict with physicians' religious and moral beliefs.

About Americans United for Life

Americans United for Life (AUL) is a nonprofit, public-interest law and policy organization whose vision is a nation in which every human being is welcomed in life and protected in law. The first national pro-life organization in America, AUL has been committed to defending human life through vigorous judicial, legislative, and educational efforts at both the federal and state levels since 1971. The Wall Street Journal has profiled AUL, and PBS's Frontline program chronicled AUL's successful efforts in Mississippi.



SOURCE Americans United For Life
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