Doctor refuses to treat baby because parents are lesbian


Krista and Jami Contreras with baby Bay (Pic: Facebook)

An American paediatrician has refused to treat a six-day-old child because her parents are lesbian.

While sitting in Dr. Vesna Roi’s waiting room in Roseville, Michigan, Krista and Jami Contreras were shocked to be told that she would not be able to treat their newborn baby, Bay, because of their sexuality.

According to Detroit Free Press, another doctor informed the women that Dr.Roi had “prayed about it” and could not help them with the baby’s first check up – for religious reasons.

The incident took place in October but the mothers have come forward now to highlight the fact that there is no federal or state law barring a private doctor from discriminating against LGBT patients.

“I was completely dumbfounded. We just looked at each other and said, ‘Did we hear that correctly?’ …. When we tell people about it, they don’t believe us. They say, ‘(Doctors) can’t do that. That’s not legal.’ And we say, ‘Yes it is,'” commented Krista Contreras.

“We want people to know that this is happening to families. This is really happening. It was embarrassing. It was humiliating … It’s just wrong,” added Jami Contreras.

In a handwritten letter to the two women, Dr. Roi later apologised for causing them hurt but explained that “after much prayer” she realised that she “would not be able to develop the personal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients.”

The doctor, who identifies herself as a new-born Christian, said that she was mistaken in not delivering the news to the two parents herself, adding that “I believe that God gives us free choice and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice.”

Emily Dievendorf, Executive Director of Equality Michigan, noted that “in an emergency room if the baby was in crisis, a denial of service could very well have resulted in an unspeakable result.”

She continued: “This incident shows clearly, to the nation and to Michigan elected leadership and citizens, that religion should not be used to discriminate. The lack of protections for LGBTQ people in Michigan already leave no legal recourse when personal bias interferes with the stability and safety of our families.”

Dievendorf said the incident highlights the urgency of including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in the state’s existing anti-discrimination law and called for the defeat of the pending Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would further allow for discrimination on the basis of “religious freedom”.

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