They’ll have to assist unmarried women in giving birth even if doing so violates their religious scruples, according to a new California Supreme Court decision involving a lesbian applicant. As Bookworm Room points out (Aug. 19), and as we noted in the earlier Bay Area conscience controversy over gender-switch breast surgery, it makes a practical difference (if not one of libertarian principle) that there are plenty of other fertility clinics around San Diego that would be happy to step into the gap. The doctors in the case at hand might still escape liability because a ban on marital-status discrimination as such was not yet part of state law at the time they rejected Guadalupe Benitez; Benitez will win if she shows that the true motivating factor was her lesbianism. (Egelko, SF Chronicle, Recorder). The ruling also allows doctors to excuse themselves on the basis of religious scruples if there is a second doctor within the same practice — but not, apparently, a doctor across town at a different practice — willing to perform the work in question. And of course the legislature in Sacramento could readily help bring peace to the culture war by inserting into the law a generously drafted conscience clause — if it wanted to. More: Miller, IGF; opinion, PDF.