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Appeals court
hears case of lesbian denied fertility treatment

Appeals court
hears case of lesbian denied fertility treatment

A California appeals court heard arguments Tuesday in the case of a lesbian who sued her doctors after they refused to artificially inseminate her--a case that one of the judges said was headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. Drs. Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton are appealing a state superior court ruling that prevented them from raising religious freedom as a defense. During one hour of arguments, attorney Carlo Coppo told California's fourth district court of appeal that religion was relevant to deciding whether his clients wrongly denied fertility treatment to Guadalupe Benitez in 1999. The doctors should be allowed to explain "what went through their hearts and minds when they did what they did," Coppo told the three-judge panel. "My clients--Drs. Fenton and Brody--are hoping to tell their story at trial," he told reporters outside court. Benitez, 33, sued the doctors and their small practice--North Coast Women's Care Medical Group in Vista, north of San Diego--in 2000, claiming their actions violated California's antidiscrimination laws. Benitez's attorney, Jennifer Pizer of Lambda Legal, argued that California law should have prevented the doctors from refusing treatment based on her client's sexual orientation. Under intense questioning, she likened their denial to a waiter at a kosher restaurant who serves only Jewish customers. "The state has a compelling interest to eradicate invidious discrimination," she told the court. Justice Gilbert Nares predicted a long road ahead. "As we all know, this is going to the U.S. Supreme Court," he said. "It's just a question of when." The appeals court has 90 days to issue a ruling. (AP)

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