Currently, 22 states have laws that prohibit doctors from discriminating against someone based on their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, for one lesbian couple, Michigan is not one of them. Two moms said a Michigan pediatrician stopped seeing their infant because of what they believed to be discrimination against their sexual orientation.
The married lesbian couple, Krista and Jami Contreras, took their daughter Bay Windsor to a pediatrician last October. The baby was six days old and it was her first visit to the doctor. Her parents had chosen Dr. Vesna Roi, 49, after meeting her in September. In the exam room, while waiting to be seen for their newborn’s checkup, the Contreras learned that Roi decided she could not care for a child of lesbians, reported the Detroit Free Press (2.19.15).
Another pediatrician told them that Roi had prayed on it and did not want to treat their child. The baby was seen by another doctor at the pediatrician’s office, and then the family, who described the incident as “embarrassing” and “humiliating” found another pediatrician. The alleged discrimination took place at Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, Michigan.
Roi reportedly waited five months to apologize after the discrimination took place, sending the Contreras a handwritten letter on Eastlake Pediatrics letterhead. In the note, dated Feb. 9, Roi explained “After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationship” she expected between new parents and herself. She provided no clear explanation for the treatment.
In their ethics rules, the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics both condemn discrimination against patients based on race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and-or other similar criteria.
Krista and Jami are not suing Roi mainly because Michigan has no law that explicitly protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from discrimination, nor does any federal law afford such protection. This means Michigan doctors can refuse to treat a gay person, or their children, citing religious freedoms, said the Detroit Free Press.
The Contrerases went public with their story to raise awareness about the discrimination that the LGBT community continues to face, the Detroit Free Press reported.
In New York State businesses cannot discriminate against customers on the basis of sexual orientation. A pediatrician in New York who refuses to work with a gay couple would be in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination and consumer protection laws. New York courts prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory, even where the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious belief.
The Detroit Free Press story cited is “Pediatrician wouldn’t care for baby with 2 moms.”