Doctors Can't Deny Lesbians Care on Religious Grounds

Benitez, who is a medical assistant, and her partner, Joanne Clark, 49, have subsequently had three children by in-vitro fertilization at a San Diego fertility clinic — at their own cost, because they had to go "out-of-network" for their care.

As a result, the couple, who have been in a committed relationship for 18 years, said they were forced to pay for a repetition of all tests and hormone treatments. Today, they have a 6-year-old son and twin 2-year-old girls.

Their ordeal began in 1999, when Benitez was diagnosed with an ovarian condition that can cause infertility. She said North Coast "promised" one of the doctors would eventually perform artificial insemination, even though Brody specifically told them she would not do it on "lesbians."

"We had no where else to go," Clark said.

When the time came, the director of the clinic refused, "because the staff objected," said Clark, who stays at home with the children, while Benitez works as a medical assistant.

Benitez's lawyer, Pizer, compared their response to the civil rights era: "I don't treat black patients, but I will refer you to someone who will."

"It opened our eyes to discrimination," Clark said. "We knew how black people felt and didn't realize how deep it went and how on-guard it makes you."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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