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North Coast Women's Care Medical Group v. San Diego County Superior Court

189 P.3d 959 (2008)

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North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group v. San Diego County Superior Court

California Supreme Court

189 P.3d 959 (2008)

Facts

Guadalupe T. Benitez (plaintiff) and her partner, Joanne Clark, met with obstetrician and gynecologist Christine Brody (defendant) at North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group (North Coast) (defendant) to discuss fertility treatment. Brody informed Benitez that because of her polycystic ovarian syndrome diagnosis, Benitez may require intrauterine insemination (IUI), which involves the insertion of semen into the uterus by a catheter. Brody then told Benitez that Brody and her colleague, Douglas Fenton, would not perform the procedure on religious grounds. Brody continued to treat Benitez for infertility. Almost a year into treatment, Brody determined that IUI was required. Benitez was ultimately referred to another medical practice. Benitez filed a sexual-orientation discrimination suit against North Coast, Brody, and Fenton on the grounds that the discrimination violated California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act (UCRA). North Coast, Brody, and Fenton argued that the UCRA violated their religious freedom and free-speech rights and that a religious exemption should relieve them of liability. Benitez motioned to dismiss the religious-exemption defense, which the trial court granted as applied to the sexual-orientation discrimination. The court of appeals set aside the trial court ruling.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kennard, J.)

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