Freedom of Religion or Discrimination?

In the case before the state court, Pedroza says his clients referred Benitez to another physician who would perform the procedure.

"We want to help the patient find whatever they want," he says. "But at the same time, this is a relationship. Don't force your physician to do something against their sincerely held religious belief."

Groups align on both sides

The interveners include two dozen gay or civil rights groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that state anti-discrimination laws prohibit doctors from refusing to serve certain patients.

The doctors have drawn support from 16 conservative law centers or religious organizations, ranging from former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese, who wrote the brief for the American Civil Rights Union, to the Foundation for Free Expression, a California group that calls homosexuality a "sin" in court papers and compares gay activists to "suicide bombers who would destroy themselves while they murder others." That brief drew a rebuke from the two doctors, who say neither supports "the tone of some of the references" or the "offensive language."

Benitez, meanwhile, received treatment at another facility and has given birth to a son, now 5, and twin daughters, now 2.

"People ask me, 'Why are you doing this? You have your kids,' " she says. "I want to make a difference. These doctors are not God. They cannot manipulate who can have children and who cannot."

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