The decision in question said that a physician could not deny treatment to a couple because of moral or ethical concerns about them.
Now, hold your horses. This decision does NOT say that a physician has to perform a treatment he or she find unethical. No one is going to be forced to perform abortions, for example.
What it DOES say is that if the physician chooses to perform the treatment, he or she can't discriminate against which patient he will or will not treat.
So, an endocrinologist can't decide he won't treat an obese diabetic because he doesn't approve of his lifestyle. A cardiologist can't deny treatment to a black man because he doesn't like blacks. An oncologist can't turn away a Muslim woman because he doesn't like Muslims. And a fertility doc can't turn away a lesbian couple because she doesn't like homos. At least, not in the state of California. In California, with a California license, you don't get to discriminate against your patients. If you want to discriminate, you have to move to a state where it's legal. California will not license you to discriminate.
The Op-Ed goes on,
The tradition of religious freedom in the United States is one of the founding ideals of this country. But as our framers envisioned it, religious freedom referred to a right to practice one's own religion free of interference from others. It did not refer to religiously based interference with the rights of others, who may have their own and different religious traditions. Even in the relatively religiously homogeneous era of the framers, such interference was not acceptable. It is even less so in 21st century America. With religious heterogeneity growing, the devotional demands of one group may be increasingly at odds with those of others.
Yet too often, our deference to religion in contemporary American society has allowed us to subordinate all other values. It has allowed us to routinely accept religiously motivated behaviors that we otherwise would have no reluctance to sanction and that, indeed, would be impermissible with any other justification.
So it's time to say "enough." In the United States, we all are free to practice our religion as we see fit, as long as we do not interfere with the well-being of others by imposing our religious views on them. If physicians or other healthcare providers who have religious objections to legal medical treatments will not at a minimum inform their patients about those treatments and refer them to others who will deliver them, they should act in a way that is consistent with their convictions and the well-being of their patients and find other professions.
Freedom of religion is a cherished value in American society. So is the right to be free of religious domination by others.
Susan Russell has a few comments on this issue too. Speaking about gay marriage, she said
"fair-minded Californians" should be concerned about some of the tactics and arguments of faith leaders on the other side.
"I will defend to my last breath the right of any of those folks to exercise their religion as they believe they are called to do it," she added. "But I'll resist to my last breath, vote, e-mail and blog their right to inflict their religious beliefs on the Constitution of the state of California."
Good job, LA Times. Well said, Susan Russell.