Jami and Krista Contreras of Oak Park met with Dr. Vesna Roi before the birth of their daughter, Bay Windsor, in October. But it wasn’t until the girl was 6 days old and they were waiting at the practice for her first checkup that they learned of the pediatrician’s decision.
Another doctor at the same practice told them their Roi “prayed on it” before deciding not to see the child. Two women say they believe a pediatrician refused to care for their infant daughter because they are lesbian.
“I was completely dumbfounded. We just looked at each other and said, ‘Did we hear that correctly?’”
“As far as we know Bay doesn’t have a sexual orientation yet so I’m not really sure what that matters. We’re not your patient – she’s your patient. And the fact is that your job is to keep babies healthy and you can’t keep a baby healthy that has gay parents?”
The incident happened last October, but the Contreras decided to go public with their story to raise awareness about discrimination against same-sex parents.
The couple said the doctor later wrote them a handwritten letter saying that “after much prayer,” she felt she could not “develop the personal patient-doctor relationships” that she usually builds with patients. However, she did not specify that sexual orientation was the reason for her refusal to see their child.
The doctor told the newspaper she couldn’t comment on the case, citing federal privacy law. She defended her commitment to pediatric medicine and helping children, saying her life is taking care of babies and she loves her patients and their families.
While the doctor’s actions could be considered inappropriate, there is no Michigan or federal law prohibiting such a decision, Wayne State University Constitutional Law Professor Robert Sedler said.
Many states have legislated against such discrimination, and Michigan has explored the idea. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has called for legislative discussion to amend the state’s civil rights law to prohibit discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in employment, housing and places open to the public. But bills backed by the business community died last session and are unlikely to gain traction in the GOP-led Legislature.
Gay rights advocates are studying a potential 2016 ballot initiative.
No lawsuit is planned since the women, who married in Vermont in 2012, concluded the doctor did nothing illegal. They said they went public with their story to raise awareness about discrimination faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
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