Gotta love Lambda.

On Monday, Lamba Legal filed suit with the California Supreme Court regarding a lower court decision that allowed doctors to refuse infertility treatment to a lesbian patient because of their religious beliefs.
The doctors have claimed that being fundamentalist christians allow them to not have to comply with California’s civil rights laws and refuse treatment to a lesbian, in this case, Guadalupe Lupita Benitez. Yet the case conflicts with a California Supreme Court decision in 2004 ruling that Catholic Charities, a social services agency, may not violate civil rights laws.
The lower court ruling has confused whether the Catholic Charities case applies here, which is pretty much the determining factor in the very request for review by the Supreme Court.
Lupita Benitez was clear with her feelings on the case:

“I trusted my doctors and then they humiliated my family and me by refusing to perform the insemination procedure after they’d been treating me and promising it to me for nearly a year. . . Doctors are supposed to treat their patients, not make religious judgments about them, and I don’t want anyone else to have to suffer the humiliating treatment by their doctors that I endured.�

I wonder if they knew she was a lesbian before or after the year that they gassed her into believing she was going to be inseminated? Either way, it looks like this “conscience clauseâ€? bullshit is evolving. The question is — who will be the next victim?

and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

41 Comments

  1. Pat
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    Why don’t you support the right of a female doctor to CHOOSE whether or not she will inseminate someone else based on her own beliefs? Why are you anti-choice?

  2. Fitz
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    There was a time in this country (not so long ago) when the left actively and enthusiastically endorsed what is classically called a “right of conscious�. This extremely important concept goes to the heart of our liberal western tradition. Its precepts are insurmountably entwined with ideas of personal autonomy & self actualization/freedom. They certainly were never summarily dismissed as B.S. One hopes the contemporary left is a bit more introspective and philosophically engaged in the concept. It is one with real merit, as is demonstrated by the recent challenge by Universities of the Solomon Amendment.

  3. Sylke
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    As a med student, I can attest that the notion that “You have no right to pass judgment–you are the vehicle of care ONLY” is drilled into your head again and again. The slippery slope of this is unconscionable–if doctors and nurses get to take the moral high ground in delivering care, the number of people who will suffer is endless: will it be an AIDS patiend who is refused a drug cocktail? Someone who needs antibiotics for an STD? Someone who had something lodged in their rectum? Perhaps a doctor will be “moraly unable” to set a broken bone because the patient is a convicted child molester.
    The list is endless. I can’t believe that someone who would go to the trouble of all those years of schooling would site “morality” for not doing their fucking job.
    Doctors have no right to let their moral convictions decide what procedures they will and won’t perform. Even though they are the vehicles for care, it’s still none of their damn business. I think that if the doctor in this case isn’t capable of delivering promised care (especially after cashing the check) to this woman, then this doctor shouldn’t be delivering care to anyone at all.
    This is why I am in med school.

  4. Pat
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Should female doctors be forced to perform abortions even if they do not want to?
    Are you suggesting that morals have absolutely no place in a doctor’s office?

  5. Sylke
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    You bet I’m suggesting that morals have no place in a medical office. It baffles me that someone can go through medical school (no easy task, I can tell you) only to tell a patient “No, I won’t do that–it’s against my belief system and I don’t want to.”
    To the doctor: You signed the dotted line, bucko, when you entered this profession, not to mention took an oath, so DO YOUR JOB. The only ethical responsibility a medical practitioner has is to deliver the best care possible, and if a medical practitioner cannot do that because their conscience won’t let them, then they need to do the world a favor and get another job.
    I am aware that when I graduate I may have to do procedures that I am not completely in agreement with, but I plan on doing them anyway, because so far in med school, no one has appointed me to the ranks of the morality police.
    Any way you roll it, the doctor in question in the article is out of line. What if the lesbian woman who wanted to be inseminated was instead a congenitally deaf woman? Or a black woman? Or a parapalegic?
    Isms have no room in a doctors office. And yes, I’m suggesting that doctors who are opposed to abortions perform them anyway. Or get another job where performing abortions will be highly unlikely, such as in geriatrics, or pediatrics. I’ll ask this question again: Where does it stop? No one likes child molesters–so if one winds up in a hospital after being hit by a car, is it OK to leave him lying broken on a stretcher because everyone on staff is morally opposed to those who misuse children?

  6. Pat
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    Who decides which procedures will be done if it is not up to the doctor?

  7. Posted April 28, 2006 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    I agree entirely with Sylke. I’m also wondering where a certain compromise went — I definitely remember hearing a while back that in at least a few states, laws were passed that allowed pharmacists not to fill emergency contraception prescriptions IF AND ONLY IF there was another pharmacist on hand who could take care of it right then. While I don’t think that medical personnel have any place denying people care, I did feel that this law was a decent compromise between the opposing parties — the pharmacist (or doctor) doesn’t have to do whatever procedure so offends them, but they must make sure that the patient’s care is not compromised in that process.
    What happened to that? Why aren’t these doctors referring patients to someone who -will- help them?

  8. nik
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Geez, you’re all missing the point. The big deal here is that:
    (1) By having a doctor perform the ‘infertility’ treatment certain legal hoops get jumped through and the resulting child doesn’t have a legal father. Whereas if I performed the insemination procedure it wouldn’t be donor sperm and the child would have a legal father. Infertility treatment isn’t a treatment like mending a broken bone, it has rather profound legal implications with regard to the person that’s being created. The issue is about whether the doctors want to be a party to this. Sylke draws the wrong analogy by talking about AIDs treatment and so on, this is about legal power. It’s entirely appropriate for someone not to want to exercise this if they don’t wish to.
    (2) The word infertility is in quotation marks above because it is questionable whether the patient is actually infertile. If she isn’t it’s obvious that the whole parallel with proper medicine, and the implication that she’s being denied a ‘cure’, is inappropriate.

  9. prairielily
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Because, nik, every child born conventionally has a legal father. If these doctors had a problem with doing this, they shouldn’t have taken her on as a patient.
    I still agree with Sylke. There’s plenty of professions where your moral and religious beliefs don’t get in the way of someone’s health.

  10. Sylke
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    “The doctors claim a right not to comply with California’s civil rights law because they are fundamentalist Christians and they object to treating a lesbian patient the same way they treat other patients.”
    So it’s perfectly OK to take her lesbian money, but not to treat her lesbian body? This is nothing more than clear-cut discrimination, with religion serving as a convenient excuse. I have a news flash for these Fundie doctors: Lesbians are people too, and deserve all the rights and priviledges of “other patients,” including the priviledge of artificially inseminated parenthood.
    So what are you saying Nik–that women shouldn’t turn to artificial insemination because their child would lack a “legal father?” Because if you’re saying that for lesbian women, then you’re saying that for all women, since no woman can be a biological (and therefore ‘legal’) father.
    Nik, I think YOU missed the point–the point being that doctors denied a woman treatment of mainstream medicine solely on the basis of her being a lesbian, and if this is OK in the eyes of the law, then the rest that I alluded to will shortly follow: ‘it’s OK to treat gay people differently, and by treating them differently we mean not treating them at all.’
    There are many ways to show your love for your god: you can attend church, you can tithe, you can volunteer, you can go on a mission, but going to work and expressly NOT doing your job isn’t one of them.

  11. Sylke
    Posted April 28, 2006 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    (I have to keep posting on this because it is a very hot topic for me– sorry for the long posts.)
    Pam, you asked: “Who decides which procedures will be done if it is not up to the doctor?’
    The patient does. If the patient is in any way incapacitated, then an advance directive will be consulted (provided there is one) and the patient’s wishes will be respected accordingly. The job of a health care provider is to arm their patients/clients with all the facts and possible outcomes of a procedure and let that patient/client make their own decision. The next step in the doctor’s list of things to do is to respect that choice without judgment or criticism (or a sermon) and carry it out to the best of their abilities.

  12. jesus
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 1:11 am | Permalink

    I think it is pretty fucking dangerous to say doctors should be mindless droids who should SHUT OFF their private moral concience when on the job. YEA!! we may disagree with that moral concience!! yea!! but, U know what!! doctors, are like the rest of us NOT fucking robots. We choose our employers, choose our morality, and, though we make errors, we do the best we can. Asking doctors, professionals, factory workers, ANYFUCKINGONE to shut off their concience at work, is just MADNESS. yea we may disagree. yea it is inconvenient if we are a patient and find our doctor or other professional objects to our request. BUT IT IS THEIR FUCKING LIFE!! we have no right to force them to practice their craft in a way that is inconsistant with their morality. that is just totalitarian bullshit. Lets support what is good, and not threaten peoples livelyhoods and personal values just because they disagree. dialogue, yea, convince, yea, argue, yea, but do not force someone to choose between what is written on their heart and concience, and their professional livelyhood. that is just a scuzzy thing to do.

  13. Posted April 29, 2006 at 3:01 am | Permalink

    Then maybe they should have chosen for “their fucking life” to do something more consistent with their own moral values, no?

  14. Sylke
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Exactly Becca. I just can’t figure out why someone would spend all the time and money attending pharmacology/medical school if they’re against dispensing some prescribed medications or doing some procedures. To me, it’s kind of like being a vegetarian and working in a steak house, and refusing to serve customers because you are against the eating of meat. It’s counterproductivity to the most ridiculous extreme.

  15. nik
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    “So what are you saying Nik–that women shouldn’t turn to artificial insemination because their child would lack a “legal father?”"
    No. I’m not playing that game here – I’m just supporting a right to conscientious objection.
    What I’m saying that doctors are given legal powers. The power to use DI to create a legally fatherless child, the power to declare someone mentally ill with the legal implications of that, and so on.
    You’re focusing on ‘treatments’. But these powers aren’t really ‘treatments’. They don’t cure any disease, and for what it’s worth it’s questionable whether this woman is actually infertile.
    So I disagree with your suggestion that they’re just denying a woman treatment solely on the basis of her being a lesbian. What they’re also doing is refusing to use a legal power they’ve been granted in a way they consider to be wrong. I think that’s perfectly legitimate. And if you want to change my mind you’re going to have to do better than conflating this with refusing to set a broken limb because someone’s gay.
    I think she should be entitled to restitution in the same way they anyone who paid for a service which was not provided should be. But she shouldn’t be able to sue them as a means of coercing them into using their legal powers in a way they consider to be wrong.

  16. Tom
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Sylke,
    A closer anology would be someone who trained for years to be a french classical chef but then decided they didn’t want to prepare and serve Fois Grois.
    Are you against that professional exercising their concience? Or are you the type of person that walks into the restaraunt and says “I’m the customer, I want fattened goose liver, I don’t care if you’ve changed your mind and stopped serving it because you feel it’s morally repugnant, I disagree with you and my opinion is more important than yours and I want it now!!! If you don’t give it to me, I’ll take you to court!!”?
    Or do you find another restaraunt?

  17. Pat
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    The idea that someone else, notably the State, would have control over what procedures a doctor can and cannot perform, is at the heart of my concern. If the State can dictate what procedures a doctor MUST perform then it can also dictate which procedures a doctor CANNOT perform.
    The patient should be able to file a civil suit against this doctor for failing to abide by the contract (assuming there was one).

  18. Fitz
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    Sylke
    Your leaving out important concepts of liberty that you rely on in other instances.
    What about the choice of a woman (doctor) to do what she wants with her own body. What of the constitutional right against involuntary servitude. What of the Hippocratic oath and the distinction between life saving measures and voluntary “medicine�?
    Try and be more nuanced and less emotive. Read my original post above and ponder it.

  19. Sylke
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Nik: You said: What I’m saying that doctors are given legal powers. The power to use DI to create a legally fatherless child….
    The thing that I disagree with here is the “fatherless child” phrase. Are you arguing that this woman is obtaining artificial insemination (AI) for the purposes of becoming a single mother? Since she has no right to marry another female partner, she has no choice but to become one. How do we know she isn’t part of a couple? An extended family (she did allude to one in the article)? Another question: is it wrong for a woman to seek AI knowing she will be a single mother? Does having an AI pregnancy somehow gurantee that a “legal father” will stick around? Or are you saying that not having a “legal father” means that the mother in question wil not have a means of obtaining child support?
    As for doctors having “legal powers,” this is a fairly moot point. AI is legal, and should be provided for those who want the procedure and are good candidates for it. No one was asking these doctors to do anything illegal. I don’t really understand the notion you asserted that AI is a sort of power and not a “treatment,” it is indeed a treatment (of the state of non-pregnancy) and a medical procedure.
    Another thought on “legal powers:” a doctor is not qualified to practice law. When a dispute that has legal ramifications arises, many medical institutions have lawyers and ethicists on hand to aid in resolving these issues. It is not up to the doctor to exercise legal power.
    You also said: So I disagree with your suggestion that they’re just denying a woman treatment solely on the basis of her being a lesbian.
    But that’s exactly what they did. I will quote from the article again: “The doctors claim a right not to comply with California’s civil rights law because they are fundamentalist Christians and they object to treating a lesbian patient the same way they treat other patients.
    What I would like to know is, how is a lesbian any different from any “other patient?”
    Tom: I have no problem with someone being morally oposed to something (really! I don’t!). However, if I went to a restaurant and the chef was against the production of fois grois I wouldn’t expect to see it on the menu.
    Although we aren’t privy to what medical institution the woman was denied treatment at, we can assume that since the treatments were of a specialized variety it was a specialized institution, or, a fertility clinic. Any doctor working at a fertility clinic should provide the services they advertise. If the doctor cannot perform fertility treatments while working in a fertility clinic for those seeking services, then that doctor needs to work elsewhere.
    Fitz: the woman doctor in question has already made many of her choices. She put herself (and her body) through medical school, attended qualification exams, built a clientelle. If she finds aspects of the procedures her job routinely requires her to do to be unsavory, then she should opt for another job.
    There are situations where the ethical lines are dim and a medical provider must make an ethical choice. They cannot, however, think from the standpoint of “What is best for me,” but rather, “What is best for this patient?” What would have been best for the woman seeking fertility treatment would have been to receive the treatment she was promised (and had already paid for). To deny her treatment that is routinely and legally available to those who wish for it purely on the basis of her sexual orientation is nothing but discrimination.

  20. nik
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    Sylke;
    I wouldn’t presume to venture an opinion to all the various questions you put to me about AI.
    All I’m saying that creating a child without any legal connection to their biological father is a pretty morally serious thing to do. Such a child has lost something which other children possess; the right to know who their father is, to contact with their father, to child support, and so on. And they’ve lost it because a doctor performed a particular legal act.
    You say:
    “I don’t really understand the notion you asserted that AI is a sort of power and not a “treatment,” it is indeed a treatment (of the state of non-pregnancy) and a medical procedure.”
    The reasoning is this: AI isn’t infertility treatment, you’re infertile before you receive AI and you remain infertile afterwards. It’s instead a clever way of getting around infertility that’s tied to a particular legal trick (a child being made legally fatherless).
    I think you get this; that’s why you phrased AI as a treatment for ‘non-pregnancy’, rather than ‘infertility’ treatment. But the problem isn’t even non-pregnancy – there’s no doubt she could be made pregnant very easily. The reason this is a big deal is that she wants the legal aspects of AI to be sanctioned by the doctor, so that her child won’t have a legal father.
    I think if the doctor thinks exercising this power would be morally wrong – in any particular circumstance – they should be allowed not to. The alternative is that anyone capable of pregnancy has the right to demand any doctor working in this area creates a fatherless child for them. I think doctors should be allowed to refuse and ask them look elsewhere for what they want.
    That’s my issue with the “just denying a woman treatment” line. I’m questioning whether it’s a treatment, is there anything medically wrong with her? It’s also not the treatment that’s the big deal here – it’s the legal powers that surround the use of insemination by doctors.

  21. 719
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    This is not an issue of delivering care. This woman doesn’t need this treatment. She WANTS it. Doctors should be able to decide what non-emergency procedures they do.

  22. Sylke
    Posted April 29, 2006 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

    Doctors do decide what non-emergency procedures they do – it’s called specialization.
    I don’t think I’m driving the point home here like I’d like to: many women get pregnant via artificial insemination. I would wager that many women get impregnated in the very clinic this woman is suing (since it is a fertility clinic, and all). For her to be singled out and denied treatement simply because she is a lesbian when other women who are theoretically “not lesbians” enjoy the the priviledge of treatment is discrimination.
    Lesbians are not bad mothers, nor are they lesser people than heterosexual people or Christians. Single women are not bad mothers, nor are they less worthy of elective medical procedures than married women. While it is nice for a child to have two parents (and the woman in question may well have a partner to help her raise her child), a man is not a necessary component in the making of a family.
    What if these Fundamental Christian doctors denied a black woman an AI procedure because they don’t want black people to breed? Is that ethical? And speaking of ethics, since when is it OK for doctors to inject their own ethos into the situations of others?
    There may not be anything medically wrong with a woman seeking AI. She may be single, and not want to “wait around” to find a man who she would want to raise a child with. She may not want a man to be involved in her life at all. Lesbian women and couples require AI to have a biological child for obvious reasons. So here’s a theoretical: if the woman in question met a man in a bar and had a one-night stand for the purposes of getting pregnant and never informed the man (thereby denying her child of a ‘legal father’), would this scenario be preferable to AI? Why is there such a difference between a sperm delivered by a penis and a sperm delivered by a syringe if the woman seeking pregnancy doesn’t want the man to be involved in her or her child’s life?
    Many children lack a ‘legal father,’ in the sense that there are more than a few men who ‘abandon ship’ mid-parenthood and never contribute more than DNA to their progeny, and there is nothing a doctor can do about this, no matter how Christian they are.

  23. DMar
    Posted April 30, 2006 at 12:14 am | Permalink

    Quote:
    “A closer anology would be someone who trained for years to be a french classical chef but then decided they didn’t want to prepare and serve Fois Grois.”
    I think an even closer analogy would be a chef who prepared and served Fois Grois without any apparent problem, but when you go into the restaurant and order it the chef decides not to make it for you, because s/he thought you were too fat.

  24. Posted April 30, 2006 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    Sylke — I was actually thinking about the vegetarian thing as I wrote that. I am a vegetarian myself and have avoided working in the food service industry (although it would’ve been verrry convenient at times) for that reason — just because I am opposed to eating meat doesn’t mean that I get to dictate what other people do or do not eat, and I certainly shouldn’t put myself in a position to have to work with meat products to make a living.
    Similarly, the procedures that constitute a doctor’s *job* exist before any individual person takes up that career — it’s not as if someone is suddenly foisting something outlandish upon them. If you don’t feel comfortable giving any possible patient the procedure you specialize in, do not specialize in that procedure. Persue something else that will not force you to choose between the integrity of your individual morals and the integrity of your duty to do your job.
    (If this were a judge, they’d be excusing themselves and appointing someone else due to a conflict of interest for that very reason).

  25. nik
    Posted April 30, 2006 at 6:37 am | Permalink

    “So here’s a theoretical: if the woman in question met a man in a bar and had a one-night stand for the purposes of getting pregnant and never informed the man (thereby denying her child of a ‘legal father’), would this scenario be preferable to AI?”
    I’m not going to comment on whether it’s preferable. But the difference is two fold. The child in this case isn’t denied a legal father. He exists and can be sued for child support, request contact and so on. And a doctor isn’t involved and doesn’t legitimise the legalities.
    You’re totally right that it is discrimination. But becuase this isn’t just a treatment – and there is a legal side to it – I think allowing doctors to object is legitimate. It isn’t the same as refusing to set a broken arm. I would agree with you if the doctors refused to untie her fallopian’s, or a similar act intended to make her more fertile.
    “Lesbian women and couples require AI to have a biological child for obvious reasons.”
    That’s perfectly true, but they don’t need a doctor to perform the insemination. It’s not a complicated procedure and she could do it at home herself. What she needs is a doctor to perform the legal stuff that makes the child fatherless. But that’s not a matter of medical expertise, it’s to do with legal authority. That where I think a right to conscience comes in.

  26. Sylke
    Posted April 30, 2006 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Nik: the “legal stuff that makes the child fatherless” is perpetuated by many more people than the doctor who performs the insemination: the sperm donor is anonymous (he COULD leave his name and contact information if he wanted to); the sperm donation clinic provides anonymity/storage/etc. for said sperm; the very laws that say that AI is perfectly A-OK. Any legal documentation (and I’m sure there is such) concerning an AI would no doubt be handled by a lawyer, not a doctor. Do you really think the doctors in question denied this woman treatment because they were worried she would have no one to sue?
    I don’t believe that doctors should be allowed to exercise legal authority when they don’t have legal expertise. In this case, however, I don’t think the doctors are playing lawyer, I think they are playing God. Neither medical training nor religious affiliation give anyone the right to do that.

  27. nik
    Posted April 30, 2006 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    But it’s the doctors medical qualifications that allow them to do this. Even though the procedure is quite simple, and I could hire my own lawyers and donors, I couldn’t perform the prodceure on people with the same legal effect because I’m not an MD.
    Sure it’s not just doctors that are involved, but they’re at the heart of it and it’s because they’re qualified doctors that certifies them the authority to do this. You say you don’t think doctors should be allowed to exercise legal authority in that manner. That’s very principled. But they currently are allowed to do this and, given that they can, I think giving them the option to be selective about how they use these powers is justifiable.

  28. Fitz
    Posted April 30, 2006 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Sylke
    I don’t think the doctors are playing lawyer, I think they are playing God. Neither medical training nor religious affiliation give anyone the right to do that
    I believe this is exactly what the religious doctors in this case believe the lesbians are attempting to do. (and are refusing to be party to it)

  29. Sylke
    Posted April 30, 2006 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I believe this is exactly what the religious doctors in this case believe the lesbians are attempting to do. (and are refusing to be party to it)
    Absolutely not. Like Nik said above, it is extremely easy for a woman to become pregnant–she could go to a faraway bar, meet a man and have a one-night stand for the purposes of becoming pregnant, then go back to her regularly scheduled lesbian life (or single life), the man none the wiser.
    The men who donate to sperm banks know exactly what is going to happen to their sperm, a man who has been used for his DNA does not. AI is also provides for a safer pregnancy because the donated sperm is tested for disease. Who do you think utilizes fertility clinics for the purposes of AI, fertile married women? Is a lesbian woman less privileged to donated sperm because she is a lesbian, or is unmarried?
    We don’t know enough of the story to discern how many clients the doctors in question have performed an AI procedure before, nor do we know the demographics of those clients. Who decides who gets to be a parent? These doctors have no right to decide who can and cannot be pregnant based solely on their personal values.

  30. Posted April 30, 2006 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Okay, okay… I’m sorry to be so blunt, but I feel like something’s really being missed here. Are people seriously suggesting that the only reason a lesbian would go to a doctor to get AI instead of having to fuck some dude she picked up at a bar (probably many times, or many men, in order to get pregnant from it) would be to make a child “legally fatherless”?? And that the woman’s situation, in thereby compromising her very sexuality (as well as a million related issues — morality, security, etc) is somehow morally preferable to some doctor being forced to perform the job he chose?
    Isn’t this just obviously, insultingly absurd? Is there some other way to take the preceeding commentary? Am I just missiing it?

  31. nik
    Posted April 30, 2006 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Becca – I think it is the ‘legally fatherless’ bit that people want.
    People can use AI and have the biological father stay the legal father. Plenty of couples do this. If a lesbian found someone who wanted to be a dad, but didn’t want to have sex with him, she could do it too. (She wouldn’t even need to get a doctor involved).
    But instead people actively don’t want the father to have any connection with the child, and would have problems finding men to sell their sperm if that wasn’t the case. So, yes, the “legally fatherless” bit is absolutely crucial to the whole project and not just incidental. And it is what they want, just think about all the complaints you would get if it were abolished.

  32. Sylke
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Yes Becca, I think there is something going very wrong here. Or at least very awry.
    Nik: why is legal fatherlessness such a bad thing? Is illegal fatherlessness better? Is it preferable that a man just up and ditch his kids (because there are so many who do)?
    Do you not realize that some men who donate to sperm banks do so because they are living on very limited time and want to father a child some way, even if it’s after they’re dead? Why is the membership of a penis in a family so important?
    And maybe someone who wants to be a mother doesn’t want a man who “donated” sperm to later come back and sue for daddy rights.
    I think I am going to opt out here and say “let’s agree to disagree.”

  33. Posted May 1, 2006 at 3:23 am | Permalink

    Other Tom, would you mind attaching a qualifier of some kind (a last name initial or something) to your name…? I’m afraid folks will get us confused.
    Thanks.
    Cheers,
    TH

  34. Posted May 1, 2006 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    Maybe I wasn’t being clear, but I was intending to point out that the “legal father” aspect is surely not the *only* reason why a lesbian (or for that matter, any woman who wants a child) may opt to go to an AI clinic instead of seeking out some near stranger to get her pregnant. If we’re going to disregard that and just focus on the “legal fatherlessness,” it seems pretty obvious to me why a woman going to an AI clinic wouldn’t want a legal father for her child — she’s not searching to strike up this highly significant lifelong relationship with someone, nor is she seeking assistance with childraising or finances, and she’s *especially* not looking to put her future child in the position of having a father involved in their life who she has absolutely no personal knowledge of. Are you really proposing that my child would be better off with some random guy, any guy who could knock me up, as his or her father, whose lifestyle, personal integrity, etc. I have absolutely no knowledge of, than he or she would be with one (or two) loving mother(s)?

  35. Sylke
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I honestly don’t know why the “legal father” thing is such a big issue – it just seems to be what we went back and forth on here. I think the much bigger and more ominous issue is that a lesbian was denied her rights by doctors who used religion as their excuse to discriminate, which is flat out bullshit.

  36. Fitz
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I’m afraid the commentators on this blog so far (for the most part) are either missing the point of the doctors (and others) or intentionally obviating around them. {and engaging in some pretty contorted mental gymnastics to do so) The germane ethical issue in contention (for the doctors & others) is the morality of childrearing. Are we to treat children as consumer goods? Do couples or singles have some heretofore undisclosed “right to a child�? What of the child’s right to his natural parents? Do we as a society have no duty to define what the preferable norm is? Why have we done so in the past? What has changed that we cannot do so in the future?

  37. nik
    Posted May 1, 2006 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    “I think the much bigger and more ominous issue is that a lesbian was denied her rights by doctors who used religion as their excuse to discriminate, which is flat out bullshit.”
    That’s perfectly true, but I just disagree with the ‘flat out bullshit’ bit. My big stumbling block is that I don’t think anyone who’s capable of becoming pregnant, and can stump up the cash, should be able to demand a doctor impregnates her with a child that will have no connection to his or her legal father. I don’t think that should be a right (as Lamba Legal thinks it is, and I think how you think it should be). I think doctors should be allowed the right of conscience to opt out of being involved.
    My main reason for thinking that is that the procedure has dramatic legal implications, and this isn’t just something that effects the woman’s health, like any other medical procedure. (And I’d agree with Sylke if we were talking about any other procedure.)

  38. Posted May 2, 2006 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    I think some folks here are confusing morality and ethics.
    The docs know, as in most other healthcare and social services fields, that ethically they are required to treat their patients. They provide the best treatment, expeditiously and effectively. However, being ethical and providing a high-level of care is not the same as imposing your moral values on your patients. Are we asking that they give up their moral values? No. Are we asking that these doctors act ethically and treat all of their patients with the best care possible in a fair and responsible manner? ABSOLUTELY! That is what hasn’t been done.
    It doesn’t matter if the doctor is morally opposed to bringing a child into this world that will be raised by a lesbian and MAYBE not have a father (or male role model) in its life (which we don’t know for sure, btw). That doctor still is ethically required to provide the treatment and care that is dictated by their ethical standards, not their moral standards.
    If a doctor wants to preach and enforce their morality on others, they should be a preacher or perhaps a missionary where their medical skills can be put to use.
    As for this whole “legal fatherlessness” thing, it’s kind of ridiculous. In a blanket assumption, all lesbians who want AI have been presumed that there won’t be any male role models in the lives of the children. This is a complete unknown and one that society can’t force upon others.
    Like Becca, my partner and I have talked about having children and we would probably do it through AI. We have several male friends we could ask, but they all would want to be “deciders” in how the child is raised. However, my partner and I are the ones going into this decision to start a family, not the donater. We’re taking on the responsibility of being parents, not the donor. I don’t have a problem with the “donor” having an uncle role and taking the child to ballgames or even for the weekend, but when it comes down to what school the child attends, whether or not to get braces, what belief system to impart to the child, etc., that’s the decision of me and my partner.
    When our child is old enough to understand who their “father” is and they want to know, then they can know. I wouldn’t keep them from that, but I won’t relegate me or my partner to the backseat while someone else gets to make the life decisions relating to our child.

  39. Fitz
    Posted May 3, 2006 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “It doesn’t matter if the doctor is morally opposed to bringing a child into this world that will be raised by a lesbian… That doctor still is ethically required to provide the treatment and care that is dictated by their ethical standards, not their moral standards.â€?
    I’m afraid not Callie
    Whether in exile in a red state; or safely in a blue one.
    Medical ethics as outlined by the American Medical Association have always held number VI (at the link provided)
    http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/category/2512.html

  40. Posted May 3, 2006 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    Ummm, who’s saying you should be afraid? Unless you are afraid because a woman doesn’t NEED to be penetrated by a penis and ejaculated into in order to get pregnant, and she should have the choice and the right to NOT be impregnated in that fashion if she so chooses.
    I guess you forgot to mention VIII:
    A physician shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount.
    This woman was in the care of that doctor and the doctor KNEW about the situation well before the time to inseminate came. The doctor had an ethical responsibility to tell the patient upfront that she couldn’t take her, that she had a problem with her morally, etc., but she didn’t. THAT’S unethical!

  41. Posted May 3, 2006 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Oops, misread that first part, eventhough I still think there is fear involved here.
    The second part I stick to.
    Let me give an example.
    I’m in the counseling profession and the ACA requires that if we, as counselors, have a problem with a client (say, for instance, there are conflicting religious views or the client is a child molester) and we know we can’t provide the best care possible, then we are ethically required to 1)not accept the person as a client and 2)to seek personal counseling ourselves for any prejudices or unresolved issues we may have, particularly those that may interfere with our ability to properly serve and assist ALL clients without discrimination.
    Bottom line, if anyone has an issue with working with a gay patient or client, then this needs to be made clear to the patient or client before rendering services. That’s the ethical problem here.

Feministing In Your Inbox

Sign up for our Newsletter to stay in touch with Feministing
and receive regular updates and exclusive content.

202 queries. 0.567 seconds