Krista and Jami Contreras recently experienced a deeply upsetting obstacle in their lives: a pediatrician refused to treat their newborn baby, Bay, because they are a lesbian couple.
Arriving at their appointment at Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, Mich., the couple, married in Vermont in 2012, expected to be seeing Dr. Vesna Roi, but were surprised to find that she was not there, according to a Fox affiliate.
Jami Contreras told the Fox news station, “The first thing Dr. Karam said was, ‘I’ll be your doctor. I’ll be seeing you today, because Dr. Roi decided this morning that she prayed on it and she won’t be able to care for Bay.’ Dr. Karam told us she didn’t even come to the office that morning because she didn’t want to see us.”
The couple went through their appointment with Dr. Karam despite their feelings of embarrassment and surprise. Jami Contreras expressed those feelings to Fox saying, “It was embarrassing, it was humiliating and here we are, new parents trying to protect her. And we know this happens in the world and we’re completely prepared for this to happen other places. But not at our 6-day-old’s wellness appointment.”
It is very surprising that nowadays this type of discrimination still occurs. We have been progressing so much lately, especially with the allowance of same-sex marriage, that it still shocks me whenever I hear of cases of discrimination like this. According to the Fox affiliate referred to earlier, in Michigan there are no laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families from discrimination. Same-sex marriage is also illegal in Michigan.
I would have thought that it would be illegal as a doctor to refuse treatment to patients, but that is not the case. Though it is true that physicians cannot refuse treatment based off of sexual orientation, the American Medical Association says that refusal of a specific treatment of an individual is allowed if it is incompatible with the physician’s personal, religious, or moral beliefs.
Dr. Roi definitely used the above as her excuse to not treat the Contreras’ baby: “After much prayer following your prenatal, I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients,” Roi wrote in a letter she wrote in response to the Contreras’ sharing their story on social media.
It is astounding to me that treatment can be refused to patients. I feel like everyone should have an equal opportunity for treatment. Thinking of how shocked I am that a baby was refused treatment for a checkup, I could not imagine a more extreme case. It seems as though the American Medical Association’s policy of refusal of treatment could allow for the possibility of someone losing their life in the most extreme cases because the doctor was allowed to refuse treatment.
Yes, everyone has different personal, religious, and moral beliefs, but I believe everyone should have a right to receive medical treatment despite that.