Prayer is a powerful motivator. In heart and mind, one reaches out to God, a higher power, and asks for well wishes, grace, humility, peace and guidance. Prayer is powerful because once an answer is derived, it is believed to be true and a direct answer from an all-knowing spirit or being.
But history is littered with stories about horrible deeds and decisions supposedly inspired by the Lord. Last week, the nation received its latest perplexing conservative-leaning hypocritical decision as Jami and Krista Contreras’ 6-day-old baby, Bay Windsor Contreras, was denied medical care from a pediatrician, according to the Detroit Free Press. This physician, Dr. Vesna Roi, said she came to the decision after much prayer, and the doctor didn’t believe she could form the same rapport with them — a lesbian parenting couple — as she could a hetero-one, she wrote in a Feb. 9, 2015 apology letter.
The actual rejection came last fall, but not from Roi herself. Another doctor delivered the news during their appointment time. But the moms have gone to the media realizing now that Roi’s action was neither illegal nor discriminatory under federal or Michigan state laws – similar to most states. And they wanted to raise awareness that this is not a hyperbolic problem. It actually happens.
Roi appears to struggle and be sorry for her decision, although she sticks by it. In her apology letter – which the Detroit Free Press posted in its original handwriting – Roi discusses how she hoped another doctor would take over and resolve her dilemma without drama. And she acknowledges the poor choice not to speak to them face-to-face.
And I for one believe Roi is sincere in her belief, and I’m sure she did pray. Who am I to judge the doctor’s prayers? But I can critique the discrimination, ethics no-no and hypocrisy because God is just.
First, how does someone not treat a 6-day-old little girl? What kind of God sends you a message to discriminate against an infant less than a week old? Let’s not go into the rabbit hole of what is wrong with discriminating against those who identify as members of the LGBT community, but even with the conservative interpretation of scriptures, there is no moral reason or scripture to ignore the infant.Third, and perhaps most disappointing, is the blatant conservative hypocrisy because first, the couple told Roi and her office up front that they were a lesbian couple. Pro-life or pro-choice, I don’t know Roi’s position, so this is speculative, but most faithful conservatives would identify as pro-life. How could someone whose job it is to heal others, and take an oath to do so, turn their back on someone in need?
How pro-life is someone who fights to eliminate abortions but refuses to treat a 6-day-old child?
Even if this perception doesn’t fit Roi’s reality, where is the conservative condemnation for the inaction? Why aren’t there a swarm of religious leaders outraged? Their silence indicates they are OK with the doctor’s decision. This indifference sends the wrong message.
This is another example of how the old wish-washy adage, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” fails on both efforts. Jesus told us to love another without qualification. And what’s worse, Roi has determined that being loving lesbian parents is an unforgivable sin, worse than being an abuser, adulterer, liar, glutton, etc. People who have committed those sins are fine for Roi to treat, but being lesbian is not.
This is a perfect example of where faith and policy should overlap. I’m a proud Christian who stands with Democrats across the country fighting to pass laws making Roi’s action illegal. This kind of discrimination must be eliminated to protect children like Bay.
And I want the Jami and Krista Contreras to know that I prayed long and hard about this, too. I’ve asked God to send you strength, patience and good health. And if you could, fly to Philadelphia. It’s a pretty cheap flight to Philadelphia from Detroit. I know an amazing pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, or CHOP. He will welcome you, all of you.
Joseph Gidjunis is the former Director of the Young Democrats of America Faith & Values Initiative and an award-winning photojournalist who owns JPG Photography in Philadelphia. He serves as a remote fellow for Eleison. He is married with two wonderful dogs.