Michigan Doctor Refuses to Treat Child of Lesbian Couple

In case you aren’t feeling sufficiently enraged at the moment, I assure you that you will be after reading this. A doctor here in Michigan has refused to care for the child of a lesbian couple after she prayed about it and God apparently told her, “Fuck that baby, it’s her fault her parents are gay.”

Last September when the expectant mothers first met Dr. Vesna Roi at Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville. She was recommended by their midwife.

“We were really happy with her,” Krista said. “The kind of care she offered, we liked her personality, she seemed pretty friendly. She seemed pretty straight up with us.”

The Contrerasas were told to make an appointment with Roi once Bay arrived. The baby was born at home and when she was six days old – they went in.

But instead of seeing Dr. Roi, another doctor greeted them.

“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,” Jami said.

“Dr. Karam told us she didn’t even come to the office that morning because she didn’t want to see us.”…

Still upset, the new moms shared their story on social media. People started calling Eastlake Pediatrics to share their alarm. On Feb. 9, nearly four months after the appointment – the Contreras family finally received this letter from Roi.

The letter read:

“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.”

“We do not keep prenatal information once we have our meetings so I had no way to contact you.”

She apologizes, saying, “I should have spoken with you directly that day,” and “please know that I believe that God gives us free choice and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice.”

I hope all of this doctor’s other patients write her similar letters. “After much thoughtful consideration, I feel that we will not be able to continue the doctor-patient relationship with you because you’re a fucking bigot.”

Unfortunately, this is entirely legal in Michigan. There are no protections against discrimination against gay people in this state. Had it been an emergency situation, that would be different. A doctor cannot refuse to treat a patient in a medical emergency for any reason. But in this situation, it’s entirely legal. But I would sure hope the AMA would have something to say about. Apparently, though, their standards are contradictory:

As it turns out, Roi has free choice too – the American Medical Association says physicians cannot refuse to care for patients based on sexual orientation, but doctors can refuse treatment if it’s incompatible with their personal, religious or moral beliefs.

That’s a nifty bit of doubletalk.

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  • cptdoom

    The AMA can’t do sh*t, no matter what their policy may be. The AMA is nothing more than a lobbying group for doctors (and nearly half the physicians in the US are not members). The real issue is whether the state licensing board can or will take any action against Dr. Roi, although I doubt it will. It is incredibly hard, even with evidence of incompetence or malpractice, for a doctor to lose his/her license. Being discriminatory to a couple of lesbians is unlikely to even ruffle the state board’s feathers.

  • themadtapper

    As it turns out, Roi has free choice too – the American Medical Association says physicians cannot refuse to care for patients based on sexual orientation, but doctors can refuse treatment if it’s incompatible with their personal, religious or moral beliefs.

    AMA should be fucking ashamed of themselves for that statement. Roi’s not objecting to any particular procedure that’s against her religion, she’s literally refusing ANY treatment for this couple’s child because they are gay.

    Frankly, Christians in general should be calling her out. This isn’t a case of “oh I can’t give out abortions or birth control because I can’t kill teh babbies”, it’s “these people are icky sinners so I won’t treat their baby”. Which is the polar fucking opposite of what their own damn prophet orders them to do. But you can bet your ass if she got fired over it the Christians would come out of the woodwork to cry about how badly they’re being persecuted.

  • Chiroptera

    It worked out okay in this case because there were other doctors willing to provide care. But what if this had been a small, conservative area and all the doctors decided that they can’t form a “personal relationship” with gay people?

    Ah, silly me, I forget: hurting their kids is a very old, very traditional method of dealing with people you don’t like.

  • gshelley

    She couldn’t comment because of patient confidentiality

    How could itbeabreach to say “I won’t comment on individual cases but I absolutely would/would not refuse a child because they had same sex parents”

  • Sastra

    What bothered me particularly about this letter is how kind and sensitive it tried to be, full of language of encouragement, respect, and good wishes. The Christian pediatrician probably did put a lot of heartfelt thought and prayer into her decision. She sounds like a nice person.

    Fuck Christianity. THIS is where those wonderful, beautiful, higher standards of religious faith lead their nice little followers. Perfectly normal and even exemplary situations and behaviors — two mothers of a beloved and wanted child taking the baby to the doctor — suddenly turn into someone’s crisis of conscience.

    It’s all too easy for people to absolve religion of a connection to overt violence or nastiness. “Oh, this was just a psychopath or a bigot. This is an asshole personality. If they hadn’t used religion as their excuse they would have found some other handy reason.” They took religion and distorted it the way they wanted. This is not God’s love.

    But read this letter. Read the whole thing. Isn’t it all too clear that no, this time it is the other way around? Religion has reframed the world, up is now down, and someone who would ordinarily not be an asshole … has become an asshole. Not because they ‘don’t love God’ — but because they DO.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Do doctors routinely refuse to treat the babies of convicted felons or war-criminals? If not, then this bit of petty, childish, passive-aggressive bigotry is even more despicable than it already was.

    Frankly, Christians in general should be calling her out.

    I totally agree. Let’s see if it happens.

  • raven

    Fuck Christianity. THIS is where those wonderful, beautiful, higher standards of religious faith lead their nice little followers.

    It’s Weinberg’s Law.

    Good people will do good.

    Bad people will do bad.

    But it takes religion to make good people do bad.

    I don’t really share your belief that this doc is a good person led astray by toxic religion though.

    Oh yeah, she prayed about it. We know the gods are just sockpuppets. So she talked to herself and came up with this little 2 minutes of hate. Not impressed.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    “We do not keep prenatal information once we have our meetings so I had no way to contact you.”

    That’s got to be utter bullshit. Is she saying her office never keeps contact information for future reference in case there’s a lawsuit, a question about payment of bills, or new medical information that has to be communicated to a client? This woman isn’t just a prissy little bigot, she’s too immature to have the guts to face the people she hates, or to even come up with a plausible excuse for not doing so.

  • jahigginbotham

    She is a DO (Doctor of Osteopathy), not an MD. What does that mean?

  • eric

    @3 – IMO it worked out too well. This pediatric office appears to be one that has a lot of doctors, and they basically suffered no loss of business for keeping this bigot on staff because the parents just took the kid to another doctor in the same office. IOW, the parents did not actually take their business elsewhere, they just bought a different product from the same company. The company doesn’ care when they do that and is not likely to change its behavior.

    It would’ve been nice had the parents walked out the office door altogether, and said ‘we aren’t going to use any of your doctors, as long as she is on staff.’ Had they found a different pediatric office entirely, I think it would’ve been a better result.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    I don’t really share your belief that this doc is a good person led astray by toxic religion though.

    She’s not. She’s childish, self-centered, petty and hateful toward people she thinks (without verification) are too alien to even talk to.

  • heddle

    themadtapper ,

    Frankly, Christians in general should be calling her out. This isn’t a case of “oh I can’t give out abortions or birth control because I can’t kill teh babbies”, it’s “these people are icky sinners so I won’t treat their baby”. Which is the polar fucking opposite of what their own damn prophet orders them to do. But you can bet your ass if she got fired over it the Christians would come out of the woodwork to cry about how badly they’re being persecuted.

    I really hate this kind of unfalsifiable, non-substantive, self-fulfilling argument, all forms of it, when someone does something bad. As an example, in the recent Chapel Hill case I read many comments of the form

    1) Another atheist kills, why aren’t atheists speaking out?

    2) You can be sure if the murderer was a Christian the media would be screaming!

    3) How come the media never says the person’s religion when a theist commits a crime?

    4) Cue the Christian comments about atheist killers in 3, 2, 1…

    5) No true Scotsman!

    Bear in mind I am criticizing both atheists and theists for this worthless immediate hair-trigger descent into tribalism.

    In fucking reality I’m sure many Christians who read about this are/will-be outraged (while some are not.) It’s really fucking stupid to argue “Christians should do this” or “atheists should be doing that” or “You just know if (something hypothetical occurs) then Christians or atheists (as the case may be) will be screaming!

    And if you point out that some do speak out, the response is another stupid argument: Not loud enough for my satisfaction.

    Stupid. Fucking. Argument.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    We expect Christians to condemn behavior that is petty, childish, bigoted, and a blatant violation of both the Hippocratic Oath and the example of Jesus’ own actions…and instead heddle comes in to attack critics of Christianity instead. And he’s accusing US of “worthless immediate hair-trigger descent into tribalism?” What a hyper-defensive asshole.

    Bear in mind I am criticizing both atheists and theists…

    Oh, okay, you’re being equally wrong about EVERYONE, so it’s okay. Got it.

    In fucking reality I’m sure many Christians who read about this are/will-be outraged…

    But they won’t show it, they’ll just get all sniffy when we don’t just have faith that they’re really outraged and will be doing the right thing any decade now.

    So what makes you so sure, heddle? You haven’t cited any specific incidents to make you sure. When are you sure we’ll start seeing a meaningful response?

  • grumpyoldfart

    I believe that God gives us free choice and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice

    She doesn’t hesitate, though, to judge six-day-old infants as useless sacks of meat not worthy of medical attention.

  • fusilier

    @9 jahigginbotham says

    She is a DO (Doctor of Osteopathy), not an MD. What does that mean?

    125 or so years ago, osteopathy was a rival to chiropractic as a “wiggle the bones to cure everything” modality. It’s gotten much closer to conventional medicine over the decades, so that a DO surgeon isn’t any different than an MD surgeon, today.

    When I was with a medical device firm, ages ago, our DO radiologist clinicians were just as astute as our MD clinicians.

    IINM, their curriculum does include how to run a business, which med schools don’t.

    fusilier

    James 2:24

  • heddle

    RB,

    But they won’t show it, they’ll just get all sniffy when we don’t just have faith that they’re really outraged and will be doing the right thing any decade now.

    Why, I can show it the same way the atheists on here show their outrage when an atheist does something bad. I can make a blog comment!

    All right, all right, I condemn the actions of Dr. Roi. I’m really really sorry. I condemn her unreservedly. I do condemn her. I offer a complete and utter condemnation. I deeply regret any distress that her actions as a Christian may have caused, and I hereby undertake to condemn any such similar actions at any time in the future.

    Or do you do something louder than that when an atheist does something bad?

  • AMM

    Anybody remember Robert Eads, a trans man who died of ovarian cancer because nobody would treat him?

    Bigotry kills.

  • http://aceofsevens.wordpress.com Ace of Sevens

    I don’t think that’s double-talk. If I’m reading it right, doctors can’t refuse patients based on religious beliefs, but they don’t have to do particular treatments against their beliefs. This is isn’t allowed, but if a Jehovah’s Witness was a doctor and didn’t want to do a blood transfusion, that would be OK.

  • eric

    “We do not keep prenatal information once we have our meetings so I had no way to contact you.”

    That’s got to be utter bullshit.

    Actually, I’d say there’s a good chance that part is true. When we were shopping around for pediatrician offices, none of them would let us “officially” sign up or make any sort of appointment until after the kid was born. The reason is that, if the offices let them, parents would sign up for pediatric care the way teens apply for colleges – apply for loads of them and tell every single one that they are the applicant’s first choice. The offices can’t fill up their calendars with patients and appointments that never show up, it would destroy them. So, they prevent this sort of “tell 10 different offices your kid is their patient” behavior by refusing to consider any baby an official patient until after the baby is born.

    With a standard in-hospital birth, you can make some ahead-of-the-birth planning because you tell the hospital while you’re in labor which pediatric office you’re going to use, and they contact them. But for a home birth performed by a midwife, I can totally see a pediatric office taking the position “yeah…we’ll start a file on you with your contact information after you actually bring the kid in.”

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Or do you do something louder than that when an atheist does something bad?

    No, I just do something more honest. The last time an atheist did something bad — that Hicks guy killing three Muslims — the response from other atheists here was far more sincere, informed, humble and honest than the hyper-defensive lashing-out you came in here with. And that’s despite the fact that, unlike Christians, atheists don’t have a doctrine that the killer used to justify his actions, and which they then had to explain, clarify, justify or renounce.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Ace of Sevens, I think you’re talking about a patient’s right to refuse treatment, not a doctor’s right to refuse to give it.

    If a patient needs a blood transfusion, the doctor should have ZERO religious or “personal belief” right to refuse to give the patient what he/she needs.

    If a doctor has personal/religious beliefs that prevent him/her from doing any kind of medicine, then he/she should not be doing medicine at all.

  • caseloweraz

    Roi: “We do not keep prenatal information once we have our meetings so I had no way to contact you.”

    So, in addition to bigotry, she’s admitting to administrative incompetence?

  • eric

    Ace of Sevens:

    I don’t think that’s double-talk. If I’m reading it right, doctors can’t refuse patients based on religious beliefs, but they don’t have to do particular treatments against their beliefs.

    It is double talk, because clearly what happened here is the doctor refused a patient based on her religious beliefs about the sexual orientation of the patient’s parents, but the AMA is saying otherwise.

    This had nothing to do with refusing to do a specific treatment – how could it? This was literally the baby’s first time ever seeing a doctor. It was a well check-up. Does Dr. Roi not do well check-ups because they are against her religion? No? Then it”s pretty clear this was not about a procedure being religiously proscribed but rather about a religious belief regarding the parents.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    eric, thanks for the correction. But in this case, the parents had already made an appointment with the doctor, and it’s normal for the office staff to at least get a phone number when they schedule appointments. That’s not “prenatal information,” that’s contact information for the very appointment the doctor then refused to show up for.

  • eric

    Heddle @16:

    I condemn the actions of Dr. Roi. I’m really really sorry. I condemn her unreservedly…

    Oh come on, Heddle, don’t be so hard on Dr. Roi. Her refusal letter is just the letter of someone who places child care as secondary compared to the so-called Great Commission. She’s like Paul the Apostle!

  • heddle

    RB,

    No, I just do something more honest.

    Your response, IIRC, was to blame, in part, Sam Harris. Fair enough, I blame Pat Robertson.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    I didn’t just blame one person, I blamed (partially) an entire mindset and line of reasoning.

    And nothing you do can change the fact that, when we were attacking an action that was universally understood to be wrong, you only pretended to condemn it, and then condemned critics of the practice far more harshly. You have repeatedly proven you hate critics of your religion far more than the actual injustices we critics condemn, and you’ve pretty much proven your enemies’ point (again) about Christians refusing to take a stand against wrongdoing by other Christians.

  • Sastra

    Raging Bee #11 wrote:

    I don’t really share your belief that this doc is a good person led astray by toxic religion though.

    She’s not. She’s childish, self-centered, petty and hateful toward people she thinks (without verification) are too alien to even talk to.

    Here’s the entire letter.

    The problem here is whether we can try — or whether it makes sense to try — to separate situations where an otherwise nice or normal person is behaving in a childish, petty, hateful way because of religion from situations where childish, petty, hateful people are using religion to express themselves. In other words, if this Dr. were to change her mind on doctrine and either join a more progressive church or become a secular humanist — do we think she’d just bring along the whole childish, petty, hateful package?

    Or would we think that there’s a good chance she’d regret her former behavior — not just because she now believes it wasn’t godly, but because she can now recognize that it was childish, petty, and hateful?

    It’s hard to say from just the letter — though we do have the additional information from the parents themselves, who met her while pregnant and found her very friendly and likeable. She knew they were lesbians at that time and yet they noticed no bigotry.

    The bigotry came out later after she “prayed on it” — meaning she started thinking about the conflict between her intuitions (“these are just ordinary parents”) and her beliefs. She brooded on it. She intellectualized it. She apparently heard the voice of God confirming that she was wrong to have no problems, she needed to change and live up to her faith. And then she handwrites a notpology which goes on and on, throwing out little good wishes, almost as if she was trying to convince herself, too, that’s she’s not a bigot.

    I’m trying to psychologically analyze someone I don’t know. But so are you and raven. This letter in no way absolves her from a charge of bigotry. But it seems to me that she’s more of a conduit than a source.

  • heddle

    RB,

    You have repeatedly proven you hate critics of your religion far more than the actual injustices we critics condemn, and you’ve pretty much proven your enemies’ point (again) about Christians refusing to take a stand against wrongdoing by other Christians.

    Sure I have. Proved beyond a shadow of a doubt. Since you say so. (And the we for whom you speak). This is in spite of the fact that I have a long searchable history on this blog (and its precursors) of condemning bad behavior of Christians. You can, should you look, find unambiguous condemnations of theonomists, reconstructionists, christians in politics, culture warriors, Pat Robertson, Hagee, the late Falwell, Ham, Hovind, Dembski (who banned me for my condemnations), Wells, Gordy, etc., etc., etc. All on this blog–let alone what I do in churches where it might actually matter. The “condemnation” today of Roi (whom I do condemn, sincerely) in #16 was, in fact, not a condemnation at all (as should be fucking obvious), it was a Fish Called Wanda inspired mocking of the hair-trigger “Group X should condemn, blah, blah, blah non-argument”. Either you don’t see that, and really you should, or you are disingenuously using it as a an example of insincere condemnation. Neither possibility speaks well of you.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    If you condemn the bad behavior of Christians, then why are you so desperate to bash people for expecting other Christians to do the same? If you think a certain action is right or necessary, and you’ve done it yourself, then why should you get upset when other people demand that the right action be done?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    The problem here is whether we can try — or whether it makes sense to try — to separate situations where an otherwise nice or normal person is behaving in a childish, petty, hateful way because of religion from situations where childish, petty, hateful people are using religion to express themselves.

    A distinction without much verifiable difference. Either way, someone is being unfairly burdened by this person’s petty childish behavior. I’d expect at least a few spiritual leaders to try to correct her on her misinterpretation of the doctrine — because that’s what spiritual leaders are FOR — and then we can see whether she changes her act. (Of course, that assumes the spiritual leaders she hears from do try to correct her, which is not really all that tenable given the track-record of right-wing Christianity.)

  • heddle

    RB,

    f you condemn the bad behavior of Christians, then why are you so desperate

    Because the way it is done (by both sides) is a no-win insincere call. It is not (in my opinion) a simple and honest (and utterly unnecessary): “Christians/atheists should condemn this behavior” No, it is used, as a tactic (a shameless one) to criticize the larger group–while the actual perpetrator of the bad behavior gets lots in the noise because the person making the so-called-argument wants to score cheap rhetorical points against the larger group:

    “Christians/atheists/Muslims/… should condemn this behavior [but they won’t, of course] but if one of ours did something like this they’d be coming with torches and pitchforks.”

    The condemnation should be focussed on Roi, or even on arguing about the Christian principles in which she claims to find support. That’s sensible. Asking “why aren’t Christians criticizing her?” is cheap nonsense.

  • Loqi

    @heddle

    Strangely, nobody responded to me when I expressed essentially the same sentiment about calling for condemnations in the thread about Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s statements on MSNBC. Funny, that. I must just be less popular or something.

  • A Masked Avenger

    I’m not telling the victims how to feel, but my thought is that this doctor did them a favor. Translated into English, I think the doctor’s response boiled down to, “I’m morally obligated to tell you that I’m a fucking bigot, and this is likely to compromise the quality of care that I will offer your child.”

    Imagine if racist or misogynist doctors were required by the surgeon general to give a warning to all potential patients?

  • Pieter B, FCD

    @cptdoom, #1

    Actually, far more than half of the practicing physicians in the US are not members of the AMA. It looks like (I didn’t spend a lot of time searching) the low point was in 2011, when they represented only about 15%. There was a gain in 2012 and possibly 2013, but it’s pretty likely that at least three out of four US MDs are not members. It’s neither the monolith it pretends to be nor the conspiracy-mongers fear.

    source

  • Matt G

    She refused to treat the baby?? She is so sure the BABY is lesbian? Or she is punishing the baby for the sins of the mothers? Is this what Jesus would do…?

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Because the way it is done (by both sides) is a no-win insincere call. It is not (in my opinion) a simple and honest (and utterly unnecessary): “Christians/atheists should condemn this behavior” No, it is used, as a tactic (a shameless one) to criticize the larger group…

    When the larger group supports a doctrine and/or mindset that is regularly used to justify the same sort of discrimination or other wrongdoing that is being criticized, then it’s perfectly fair, and not at all insincere, to criticize the larger group, and not just the one member of that group who is acting on the doctrine on a given day. It is, in fact, standard procedure; and the only reason you’re getting upset and defensive about it here is that it’s being applied to your religion, whose deep-rooted corruption and irrationality you’re unwilling to face.

  • Anri

    Easy test case: have a doctor convert to pre-1970’s Mormonism and refuse to treat African-Americans. “Y’se, y’r honor, it’s not that I dislike black people – oh, no, not at all – it’s just that my Big Holy Book Of All Truthiness says…”

  • http://www.facebook.com/stanley.james.7 Stanley James

    there is more to this re the apollogy – she did it later, after most of the media had moved onto other stories

    It psychology its called the bad is more powerful then the good.

    EG Pope Benedict UNexcommunicated bishop williamson, a holocaust denier and later appologized. The german pope at his best, also calling gays intrinsically evel and disordered. BTW he served in the hitler youth corp, born in 1927, he grew up under nazi ism And of course the nazis murdered all the gays they could find. From various websites the middle number is about 45000 But I met a man who had grandparents in the Eisengruppen (8 batalions of soldiers to old or somewhat injured and were used to round up the “undesireables” for the death camps. 200,000 gays were murdered by a maniac, along with 6 million jews, 1 million gypsies (semites both, technically not white) the 200000 gays and millions of soviet prisoners – data is anywhere from 3 to 11 milllion

    Pope Franics is anything but that extremist benedict. re gays

    who am I to judgee. gay families contribute to society, His tacit endorsement of civil unions in italy (the only western european nation without relationship recogniton for gay couples except tiny monaco. BTW a CU bill is in the italian parliament, with a center left govt it will prob pass. teh situation in Italy re gays marrrying is very confused, some did get married by judges then the marriages were anulled. others similar re those marriied else where where it was legal

    Pope Francis isnt going to support marriage per se but compared to benedict he’s a shining light vs a storm

  • http://www.facebook.com/stanley.james.7 Stanley James

    AS for more on this woman, welcome to xtianity – the same protestant extremists like tony perkins of the hate group FRC, who now hate gays, and of course our fitst black president – racism = not gone just sleeping in ameriKA