What Health Care Laws Protect The LGBTQ Community From Discrimination?

Generally, victims of medical malpractice have a lot to worry about: Maybe a delayed diagnosis resulted in a terrible prognosis or a bigger bill. Maybe a surgeon left an instrument in a body cavity or accidentally damaged important tissues. Or maybe they simply overbilled for no reason. But sadly these events are more common for the LGBTQ community — which is why there are actually lawyers who specialize in LGBTQ medical malpractice law.

A medical malpractice attorney knows that one of the biggest complaints from LGBTQ clients is that a doctor or nurse is trying to refuse treatment on the basis of religious liberty. But hey, guess what: that’s why we have important federal legislation to protect our rights as American citizens.

The American Medical Association (AMA) has a specific set of ethics-based rules that members must follow to practice medicine. One of these rules includes protections for LGBTQ patients, whose doctors and nurses cannot refuse treatment due to their sexual orientation.

According to the AMA: “Physicians who offer their services to the public may not decline to accept patients because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other basis that would constitute invidious discrimination.”

Keep in mind that doctors and nurses do enjoy the right to deny certain types of treatments — like abortion — to patients. But that’s different from denying treatments to one type of person over another. The AMA added that it will continue to “work to reduce the health disparities suffered because of unequal treatment of minor children and same sex parents in same sex households.”

Do you believe that you have been discriminated against based on sexual orientation? These states outright ban it: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Do you believe that you have been discriminated against based on gender identity? These states outright ban it: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Many states have organizations built to offer support to LGBTQ patients. For example, California-based “Legal Pride” is a network of professional attorneys and other professionals who offer advice and build lawsuits based on medical malpractice. They serve Los Angeles, San Diego, and Orange County. 

Sadly, there are a number of healthcare organizations that believe the rules do not apply to them. For example, a California-based fertility clinic denied service to Lupita Benitex because she is gay. She filed a lawsuit. The clinic’s argument that it did not have to abide with the state laws based on its religious views was overruled by unanimous decision by the Supreme Court of California.