USA Today Weighs In Against Doctors' Freedom of Conscience

The headline says it all: “Doctors accused of using faith to violate gay bias laws.”


USA Today apparently believes doctors should be required to provide services to patients even when they would be forced to enable behaviors and lifestyles condemned by the great majority of religions.      

The August 3 USA Today devotes two articles to this issue.  The longer of the articles, on page 3A, focused on a California State Supreme Court case in which a lesbian was refused artificial insemination by her doctors.  The woman, Guadalupe Benitez, claims she was denied because of her sexual preference; the doctors say they objected because she is unmarried.  According to the article, Benitez sued her doctors in 2001, “claiming that they violated California's anti-discrimination laws that protect gays and lesbians.”


USA Today's Laura Parker reports that numerous political, religious and legal groups are intervening on both sides of the case.  Parker provides a straightforward summary of the American Civil Liberty Union's argument for Benitez, but no comparable summary for any of the 16 organizations supporting the doctors.  Instead, she attempts to discredit one of the religious organizations, describing the Foundation for Free Expression as 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.'”

In an effort to spin the story as a civil rights issue, Parker quotes a liberal activist who equates sexual preference to race.  Jill Morrison, legal counsel to the National Women's Law Center, says “Usually, providers who object to certain services object to them for everyone: 'I won't provide contraception.'  In this case, they don't object to the service, just the patient.  You can't pick and choose.  You can't say, 'I will perform it for white people, but not for black people.'” 

A USA Today front page article, also by Parker, is headlined “Some doctors refuse services for religious reasons.” Parker provides emotionally powerful quotes from a homosexual who recently settled a lawsuit against a doctor who refused to prescribe Viagra for him:   “He told me he had prescribed certain drugs for married people, but he wasn't going to do that for me” says Jonathan Shuffield.  “It was very painful having the trust broken between my doctor and me.”

“Balancing” Shuffield is a bland paraphrase and quote from Patrick Gillen of the Thomas More Law Center: “Gillen says no doctors should be required to perform procedures that violate their religious faith, especially 'if the patients can get the treatment elsewhere.'”


Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.