Doctor won’t treat child of lesbians

Doctor won’t treat child of lesbians February 21, 2015

Punishing children for the sins of their parents is very very smart and will both show the parents the love of Christ that leads to their conversion, as well as demonstrate to the world that Christians are attractive human beings who are motivated by love.  It’s so important for Christians to cling to culture war ideas, even if it means punishing innocent children.  Let’s keep doing that, because it has been hugely successful and is so obviously right and just.

And when some atheist declares: “After much thought, I, an atheist, have decided not to treat your child because his parents are Christian” let’s not forget to be surprised and outraged by this completely unforeseeable development.

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  • Rosemarie


    Sez the doctor: “I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients.”

    IOW, “You make me uncomfortable.”

    And she came to that conclusion after prayer. Good thing God Incarnate Himself didn’t reject Matthew the tax collector’s party invitation: “I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal rabbi/disciple relationship with a sinner like you. You and your harlot friends make Me uncomfortable.”

    Maybe it’s not exactly the same but IMHO a Christian doctor should imitate the Divine Physician who freely healed the children of sinners.

    • Eric

      Of course what she did is ridiculous. That’s probably why she apologized and welcomed them back. Granted, the damage is done. Couldn’t blame them a bit for not returning. I don’t remember her calling them anything akin to harlots and whatnot. In reality, the two women had heard of her and desired the holistic practice of medicine she provided patients. Perhaps she thought she’d be unable to do so due to feeling awkward. I’m not saying it’s right, but people are people. We get put off by all sorts of things we should overlook as Christians. All the time. If you say this isn’t true in your case, then you’re a liar. So spare me the holier than though routine. Hopefully she has some Christian friends that pulled her aside and corrected her behavior. Then again, maybe she had some Christian buddies who started screaming “Pharisee!!!! Pharisee!!!!!”.

      • Rosemarie


        Oh, Lord knows I’m a sinner. I’m definitely not holier than “though.” Maybe I’m just a bit tired of Christians failing to apply “Love thy neighbor” to homosexuals. Like Mark said, this is a terrible witness, and every time I hear a story like this it troubles me. When will we learn?

        I’m sure the doctor is uncomfortable, and yeah, that’s a human reaction. But maybe she’s misinterpreting that feeling as a sign that she can’t be a good doctor for the family. Maybe she should consider that God may have sent those people there to call her out of her comfort zone. To bring her to the next level of Christian charity.

        Anyway, your knee-jerk personal attack (“If you say this isn’t true in your case, then you’re a liar. So spare me the holier than though routine”) reminded me why I mostly stay away from this blog nowadays. I had forgotten how nasty and toxic this combox has become.

        • Eric

          If you think that’s a personal attack, then i apologize. It was more a reminder to consider one’s own shortcomings before “getting all holier than thou”. Recognize that the upsurge in okayness with actively homosexual couples is somewhat a new development in western civilization. That being the case, many Christians lack the foundational religous education, biblical literacy, and moral development to know how to deal with the new trend. Consider it a failure on the part of the Church. We are to instruct the ignorant, reprove the sinful, forgive injuries, bear I’ll treatment patiently, then always pray.

          I get being frustrated. Trust me. Once again, I apologize for the aggressive tone. A serious character flaw of mine.

      • Newp Ort

        She didn’t welcome them back, she “welcomed” them to come to the practice and use another physician.

        The apology was for not informing them earlier of her decision not to treat their child, and for not telling them this in person.

        Besides that the letter is the basic I’m sorry you were offended non-apology.

        • Eric

          She welcomed them back to the practice then.

          Truth be told, I have a particular physical trait that can be off putting to some people. If a doctor is honestly distracted enough to possibly provide second rate treatment, I hope they’re honest enough to tell me. I’ll gladly be on my way. Is this ridiculous behavior for a doctor? Of course. Unchristian? Yup. Should she be corrected by her fellow Christians? Definitely. Is it understandable (expected even) given the lack of catechisis and Christian formation? What do you think?

          • Newp Ort

            No it’s not understandable. I don’t think anyone’s catechesis is so bad that they would think it was okay to deny service because a person’s appearance was unnerving. Would definitely defy the Hippocratic Oath, too, which most doctors take pretty seriously.

            What is your point of it being understandable, anyway? That doesn’t make it moral, and that’s what the post is about and what is being discussed.

            • Eric

              Hypocratic oath? You’re kidding right? Euthanasia, abortion, assisted suicide are praised as “healthcare” by not a tiny group of physicians and now you’re going to lecture me on the sacredness of the hippocratic oath? Let me guess, those issues are where it gets “complex”. Give me a break.

              And yes, catechesis is is that bad. Have you seen the torture defenders?

              • Newp Ort

                Good point about the oath!

                But I think both of these cases are selective stupidity. Large groups of doctors ignore that whole do no harm thing in areas they prefer to do so. But I don’t think there’s any significant amount of doctors or christians who think it’s okay to discriminate on appearance.

                And I don’t think I lectured you. You asked a question and I answered it.

                • Eric

                  No, you didn’t lecture. Sorry for the accusation. I just finished watching a portion of Dr. Oz interviewing Brittany Maynard’s family. I think my frustration might be bleeding over into this forum. My apologies.

            • One of the unspoken options is that this couple has a chip on their shoulders over the legal status of their relationship and the doctor didn’t feel up to navigating that and that potential public drama rather than the homosexuality per se was what she was praying over. In this case, it turns out that she might well have been right, as the trashing of her healthgrades rating with fraudulent notices is pretty obviously payback by somebody and the two women chose to go to the press over the matter.

              • Newp Ort

                You’re making excuses for the doctor

                • I’m speculating, as you probably are unless you have personal knowledge of the case.

                  • Newp Ort

                    “[gays] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

                    All the information available would suggest the doctor did not act in line with the catechism.

                    • Fair point. I’m being charitable to the doctor. Having helped write a few of these letters (not for these reasons) what’s going on is often not clear from any distance at all.

                      When I started learning about medicine as the spouse of a physician, I thought that it was a rare thing for people to get shifted to a different doctor or even get dismissed from a practice. I knew jack all about the issues back then and still am only middling educated.

  • SteveP

    Mark: Perhaps the doctor took an ethical action much like a judge who recues himself from a case. Surely you would not force a doctor who is terrified of bearded men to treat your family member in a non-emergency visit.

    On the other hand, perhaps the doctor did not find the baby attractive; I suspect the “mothers” could understand that deep seated feeling.

    P.S. Not that it matters to manufactured outrage: the baby got the “well-baby” checkup and is healthy.

  • Charles Lewis

    Mark Shea: This is appalling. I can’t fathom the Jesus, not you or this doctor, but Jesus punishing a child for the parents sins. “Let’s say a woman brings in her child who had a bad accident was running a very high fever. In the middle the doctor asks the woman, Where is your husband? He should be here. At that point I don’t have a husband but my partner Kathy will be here. Would the doctor at that point stop? Would he say my conscience says this arrangement is wrong an so I can’t continue? And better yet, I’m doing it to show love.” How can you be so horribly judgmental. I’m sorry I read this before turning in for the night. I think it’s time for you to get down from your cross and become human again and understand that a child, a child, cannot be responsible. That child will end up hating Christians. I’m a Catholic and love the Church and nothing will pull me away but I don’t think you speak for anyone but yourself.

    • chezami

      Why do you think I approve of this? You’ve misread me about as badly as you can.

      • Charles Lewis

        If I misread you you have my apologies. So what did you mean by saying: “It’s so important for Christians to cling to culture war ideas, even if it means punishing innocent children. Let’s keep doing that, because it has been hugely successful and is so obviously right and just.”What is the nuance I’ve missed here?

        • Eric

          I’d say that line is dripping with sarcasm. Especially given the context of the whole of Mr. Shea’s work. Guess it’s an understandable mistake if you don’t frequent this blog often.

          • Charles Lewis

            Of course I feel like an idiot and feel terribly. But maybe sarcasm doesn’t work in such a short comment. There’s a battle online of one of my friends. They’ve taken this seriously. With one person arguing that you’re “right.” I’m glad to hear this is not your opinion. But you fooled me. Again, my apologies.

            • Lol

              Cool story, bro! Lol

        • chezami

          You’ve haven’t missed any nuance, because the statement was a big ol’ hamfist of sarcasm. I think punishing children for the sins of their parents is wicked and stupid.

          • How, exactly, was the kid punished?
            Was the child denied medical care? No.
            Was the child sent to a different facility? No.
            Was the child seen by an inferior doctor? No.

            What constitutes the punishment of the child here?

            • MarylandBill

              So, its okay if one doctor refuses to see the child because of their parents… but what if it is all doctors? And besides, Mark is talking about what the Christian thing to do is. Didn’t Jesus heal the ear of one of the people who came to take him away to be crucified? This situation doesn’t even rise to that level.

              • Artevelde

                Jesus dined with tax collectors and sinners to illustrate his teaching about bringing *even these* people back into the fold. He forgave and healed those who sinned against him because he practiced what he taught about forgiveness. Nothing suggests he ever ate with groups of people because he did not discriminate between lifestyles or that he handed out handmade furniture because you know, people are in need of tables.

              • As a practical matter, it is unlikely that your hypothetical will happen. Doctors’ psychology works against it. Long before you run out of doctors willing to treat, the votor numbers willing to legalize the problematic relationship will shrink to political irrelevance. Mom 2 will become “auntie” again and this particular problem is done.

                Even today, the thirst to treat is often willing to go beyond the law. Not every doctor does this as a vocation but not every doctor is a careerist either.

                My own wife would probably have no problem adding to her portfolio of homosexual patients but in her case the kid would be the sticking point as internists do not as a rule do peds. In case of emergency she has been willing to bend that rule but it is all case by case.

          • Charles Lewis

            You blew up on Rebecca Bratten Weiss’ FB site. I don’t think you should employ satire. People may not know you and there are extreme people out there with strange ideas. Who would imagine the hideous Westboro Baptist Church was for real. Anyway, you fooled a lot of people.

            • Newp Ort

              Don’t employ satire, as you and a number of your friends are to dumb to get it. MAKES SENSE.

              • Newp Ort

                And I’m too dumb to use too instead of to.

  • Brian

    If we state it is unchristian for the doctor to refuse to care for this child, do we say the same of the doctor who refuses to care for the unvaccinated child? After all, it is the parent’s choice, not the child’s to not vaccinate.

    • Rebecca Fuentes

      I would, but then I don’t fall into either of the extreme camps on vaccination.

    • MarylandBill

      In general, the argument Doctor’s use regarding refusing to treat unvaccinated children (other than those seeking vaccination of course) is that said children represent a danger to their patients. If you are a pediatrician, odds are you have infants in your office fairly regularly; if parents are bringing children in with measles (which is incredibly infectious), those infants are now at risk of serious illness. I can’t think how this situation would be in any way comparable.

    • Newp Ort

      The parents are specifically going against the doctor’s recommended treatment in the case of vaccination. If an oncologist had a patient who refused standard cancer treatments that the doctor knows are the best shot, that would be a similar situation.

      This doctor didn’t recommend the treatment “don’t be gay,” she just refused to serve them because the were gay.

      • Joseph

        Not making a point here, just illustrating how analogies break down and you gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away… An oncologist wouldn’t go looking for said patient to force treatment on him… the only way said patient would be in an oncologist’s office for consultation in the first place would be if said patient sought treatment through the system. The oncologist wouldn’t refuse treatment of said cancer patient. The oncologist would still offer treatment regardless of the patients opinions of that treatment, but said patient may refuse.
        In contrast, the Vaccination Zealots of the Islamic State who work in many Pediatrician offices today will outright refuse to see children because of their parents decision not to follow their medical advice. Not the same thing as the oncologist scenario you proposed. They’ll even mock the children (I’ve seen this with my own eyes).
        Note: My children are vaccinated lest the Vaccination Zealots of the Islamic State are gathering rusty blades and AKs to wipe me out for having dared blasphemed against the god of Vaccines.

        • Newp Ort

          I agree. You’re not making a point here.

    • Mariana Baca

      An unvaccinated child has parents that are acting AMA, a child of homosexual parents (or divorced parents, or unmarried parents), is not AMA. That is the difference. It is a medical distinction, not a social one.

  • Using your infant as a human shield for your politics really works! The problem is hard to discern from here but I’ve no information to contradict that she just wasn’t able to bring herself to be sufficiently professional with these women to provide a first class relationship as she wrote in her letter (companion article). She did ensure, however, that the infant’s care would not be jeopardized by this which is what she’s supposed to do.

    She’s a doctor in a group practice and she arranged for another female pediatrician to handle this, in fact one who is more senior to her and has a more impressive CV (the website for the practice is informative). She’s now gotten her professional reputation trashed by the local gay mafia (her healthgrades report is abominable with an unusually, large number of responses and one out of line with her practice partners on issues like wait times) and she’s likely going to be hit in the pocketbook for quite some time over this. So one more object lesson given that you there is no practical alternative to positive approval for gay relationships.

    No doctor has an obligation to form a doctor patient relationship. Some doctors won’t treat lawyers. For liability reasons they find it too risky. Others will drop you if you get into a fight with them, if you don’t follow their instructions, or even if you just don’t get along with the doctor or the office staff. If the problem is personal, you’re supposed to hand the problematic patient over to a different doctor in the practice. But this compromise is unacceptable when it comes to accepting gay marriage.

    Of course it is.

    • Dave G.

      Personally I preferred the headlines that suggested the child was dying, pinned under a giant stone slab, its pitiful wails softening as its life force ebbed away, when suddenly a wicked and contemptible homophobic bigot Christian “doctor” realized the true nature of the parents, spun on her heels and walked away singing glory to Jesus. Or some image like that. That was so much easier to trash. It’s certainly how most blogs and not a few news headlines have presented it, until you get to the bottom of it with actual facts and details. FWIW, I see her point, but also think that she should have taken the child since I can see a slippery slope in this sort of thing, as Mark suggests. But then I was also appalled at those who suggested kids whose parents weren’t getting vaccinations should be cast into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. So there you go.

      • Joseph

        “But then I was also appalled at those who suggested kids whose parents weren’t getting vaccinations should be cast into the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. So there you go.”
        Same here. I remember in the 80s when that was how people talked about those infected with HIV. Now, if one were to do that, they’d be crucified. However, apparently it’s OK to say the same thing about parents who don’t vaccinate their children. There are vaccination extremists on both sides it appears… except one side just wants to be left alone with the choice, detrimental or not; the other wants those parents thrown into the fires of hell to the resounding applause of their colleagues in the Vaccine Islamic State.

    • Newp Ort

      The doctor’s a bigot. And you think that’s okay. Got it.

      • I am more of the opinion that the doctor is not a slave. You seem to be a little hazy on the 13th amendment.

        • Newp Ort

          I said she’s a bigot. That’s a separate point from being legally forced to provide treatment.

          As to legality, it’s illegal to refuse treatment based on other protected classes, race for example.

          I feel that gays should be a protected class, and perhaps that’s where we disagree.

          Or perhaps you disagree with the 14th amendment equal protection clause as a whole.

          • AquinasMan

            Why should someone’s sexual preference make anyone part of a protected class? Utter insanity.

            We need a protected class for Cubs fans. I was born this way and my environment nurtured this fanaticism. From now on, no one on this Blog is allowed to mention the World Series. It offends me.

            • MarylandBill

              I am in general opposed to the notion of protected classes, but, not because I believe that they should lack protection, but rather because it implies that people who don’t belong to other classes lack protection. That being said, homosexuals have experienced much unjust discrimination based on essentially nothing more than who they are attracted to. That doesn’t mean same-sex marriage should be allowed since it contradicts the definition of marriage. At the very least however, a Doctor should not be allowed to refuse treatment based off of a child’s parents.

              • But there’s a difference between “refuse treatment” as in “not see the child for an immediate medical need” and “must form an 18-year close bond with these people where there is an assumption from the beginning that the doctor will never ever say anything negative about the child’s family situation.” Most pediatricians wouldn’t take a child under the second set of rules even if the child’s family situation is that of a married couple with a SAHM who plans to homeschool–if the doctor thought that regular interaction with other children in a school setting would be good for that particular child, he or she should be free to recommend it, and not be sued immediately for being an “anti-homeschooling bigot.” (It goes without saying that the parents are equally free to ignore the doctor’s educational recommendations.)

              • So long as the child gets medical treatment, you bet an unpleasant set of parents are going to have more difficulty in finding a medical practice to have a relationship. As I said elsewhere, I’m a hardcore fan of the 13th amendment.

                The relevant question is how unpleasant was mom and was the criteria for rejection unchristian. If mommy was going on and on in the pre-natal about how her kid was going to break down barriers to gay marriage at local daycare and schools by setting up situations that force them to change the rules and seeking an alliance with the doctor to do the heavier than usual paperwork to accomplish this, that would be a different situation than a lesbian who is otherwise a saint and who didn’t make mention of politics and only by chance was the doctor even aware that there was another woman in the parenting picture. Between these two ends of the population curve, there’s a whole bunch of excluded middles.

                Without tripping the 13th amendment, at what point does society have the right to impose a duty to treat? Right now the line is drawn like this, you can refuse to treat so long as the patient is not left in a lurch and denied needed medical care. If the latter is what the patient is facing, you suck it up Dr. and treat the patient until conditions change at which point you can move them on to a different doctor without society having much say in the matter. I’m in favor of this rule. Are you?

              • Newp Ort

                “…but rather because it implies that people who don’t belong to other classes lack protection.”

                So, uh, you mean people who aren’t a member of any race, religion or national origin? Do these people even exist? How would you discriminate against people with no basis to discriminate?

            • Newp Ort

              1. We’re gonna have to disagree on the protected class thing; I don’t think that extensively debated topic will be solved by you and I here. And you are Hitler.

              2.LOL. Let’s make it 107. Go Sox.

          • Athelstane

            Or perhaps you disagree with the 14th amendment equal protection clause as a whole.

            Or perhaps you disagree with the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.

            • Newp Ort

              I would prefer equal protection to apply to gays rather than free expression allow people to to discriminate against gays because of their religion. I think that’s where our difference lies.

              • Equal protection should not conflict with free expression. If they do, you’ve written your laws too expansively.

                • Newp Ort

                  Admittedly my grasp of the law in this area is weak. I even called it “free expression” when it’s really “free exercise.”

                  But what if someone’s religion as they’d like to exercise it would include discrimination against protected groups? You know like weirdo White Supremacist churches, the like. Doesn’t 14th protected class trump 1st free exercise? Is that because it is not a religious practice with legitimate grounding tradition?

                  And although I like the idea of gays being a protected class I am concerned with how that would effect the Catholic Church. This is not some bunch of fringe nuts we’re talking about here. (mostly)

                  • For there to be a 14th amendment claim, there would have to be a law that was violated. So what was the law that was violated?

                    Good luck with that.

          • The economic unit is the practice. The practice provided care, that day and at the appointed hour, and nobody is asserting that the care was not first rate. The family wasn’t charged discriminatorily. All that happened is a different doctor showed up in the room.

            The mom wanted a particular doctor from the practice. She doesn’t get to pick that unilaterally (normally it’s a negotiated thing) but because she goes to bed with another woman she thinks that she should get to pick that unilaterally because, what, her special rainbow glittering hoo ha power?

            • Newp Ort

              Ugh, always economics with you.

              Do you believe in equal protection at all? What if she discriminated against a race or religion? Would you still defend the doctor?

              • Do you know how easy it is for a doctor to undetectably screw with a patient? I wouldn’t want a doctor who didn’t want me because I’m looking for the best healthcare I can get, not to make a political point.

                This sort of screwing with a patient doesn’t even have to be conscious. It can just be the difference between getting some much needed sleep and hauling your butt out to the hospital because your intuition vaguely says it might be a good idea to get ‘hands on’ at midnight this time instead of waiting for normal morning rounds at 8AM. Sleep deprivation makes lying to yourself easy.

                If there’s a problem with the doctor patient relationship as a doctor, it’s wisest to bow out because if you let your subconscious get the better of you, even once, it can seriously impact patient health.

                She may very well have a problem. I don’t know this doctor. But you seem to think that gritting your teeth and providing service within professional guidelines is the solution to that problem. I would view that course of action as a (hopefully mild) form of child abuse of the politics before children variety.

                • Newp Ort

                  Whatever. Mark’s original point is that the doctor’s actions are unchristian, which we’ve pretty well established by the catechism.

                  If you can’t be a doctor and not “screw with a patient” maybe you’re just a shitty doctor and should bow out of the profession. Goes double if it’s due to discrimination.

                  And back to my question you ignored:

                  Do you believe in equal protection at all? What if she discriminated against a race or religion? Would you still defend the doctor?

                  • Joseph

                    Basically, what TMLutas is saying is that doctors have a right to a ‘god-complex’. If a patient pisses them off for any reason, it’s only natural for the doctor to passive aggressively screw them over. In other words, doctors are no more mature than your waiter at TGI Friday’s. You start to get picky at my table and ask for star-shaped pickles on your burger seasoned with exactly 4 grains of salt all of the same size and I’m going to make sure you get your burger 20 minutes later than normal… perhaps with a *chef’s surprise* inside. Welcome to modern day medicine.

                    • This is not quite what I am saying. I’m saying that doctors are human. They aren’t all saints. Even the best ones have moments of weakness. Like other human beings their weaknesses range all across the map. That doesn’t mean a particular doctor will be “no more mature than your waiter”. It means that it’s possible to get through the grueling trials that are required to be a doctor without being otherwise a great human being. In certain cases, a doctor might be as mean as that waiter but that would be an outlier on the bell curve. So we really are disagreeing between could be on my side and are on yours.

                      When the stars don’t align, for whatever reason, it’s best for the patient to find another doctor because there simply aren’t enough doctors to go around and hounding doctors who are not willing to work with a particular patient out of the practice of medicine will predictably end up killing people.

                      Some doctors do have a god complex. Go create a surplus of good physicians to replace them before you drive these people out of the profession. I’m averse to the extra corpses produced by public policy even when I don’t know their names and will never be able to trace out the causality.

                  • I think I see the problem now. You just have no idea what a doctor is, or what the doctor/patient relationship actually means. Not everybody clicks. Not every relationship is safe. Some doctors will take on a mentally disturbed patient and pull them back from the edge while others trying to do the same thing will end up dealing with a vindictive lawsuit for a couple of years or other, even less pleasant stalkerish behavior. So doctors have the right to say “we’re not a good fit and you need to go elsewhere” and they can and usually are very vague about the reasons. They just have an obligation not to leave the patient in a lurch. This doctor filled the requirements and gave a minimum of fuss for this family. She ended up apologizing because she didn’t show up to explain this face to face which would have been a nice and decent thing to do and something that, on reflection, she felt she should have done. This is the level of slight that we’re talking about.

                    It seems pretty likely from the outside that it was the irregular relationship the mother of the child has with another woman that caused the relationship not to form on a viable basis in this case. It’s not a certainty though. The average panel size for a pediatrician is about 2.5k patients. Accounting for families with multiple kids, let’s say that’s an even 1500 families. With an average incidence of the population at 1% that’s an expected 15 lesbians in the panel and let’s cut that in half for a guessed at lower birth rate for lesbians and say there should be about 7 other lesbians that this doctor is taking care of and she is professionally barred from mentioning.

                    If the doctor was turning out patients based on animus to gays, her panel composition would tell the tale in a much more reliable fashion and I’d expect that this doctor would be eventually reprimanded. Since I have no position or right to do the statistical analysis I leave that to the people over at the state of Michigan who do have that right.

                    If this doctor’s panel had 7 patients with lesbian parents in it, would it matter? If it were 1 patient with a lesbian mom, would it matter?

                    • Newp Ort

                      And again:

                      Do you believe in equal protection at all? What if she discriminated against a race or religion? Would you still defend the doctor?

                    • Since I don’t believe that this is an equal protection case, I’m persistently not following your squirrel and will continue to pass on the opportunity.

                    • Newp Ort

                      Don’t be such a wimp. I know we won’t agree on equal protection for this case, probably not for gays at all. Do you believe in equal protection for ANY reason? I would guess you don’t based on some kind of bullshit capitalistism reason.

                    • Oh, you think I respect you enough that your questioning of my manhood matters one iota and certainly enough that now I’ll go chase your squirrel.

                      Go on and just make stuff up. It will no doubt read better to your side without any connection to reality whatsoever.

                    • Newp Ort

                      u lack intestinal fortitude

                    • Oh, another bald insult that would only matter if I respected you. I have utter contempt for this sort of playground insult strategy.

                    • Newp Ort

                      I say yer yella. A spineless jellyfish. (Though I must admit your avatar picture is quite handsome.)

                      BTW I never heard of a “squirrel chase;” I would’ve expected you to say you washed your hands of it.

                    • That’s me, defying expectations!

                    • Artevelde

                      I don’t think he’ll answer your question, but permit me to do so. I think that the logical conclusion of my own thoughts on this issue leads me to saying that we don’t need equal protection under the law when it comes to obtaining the services of a doctor, except of course in case a legislative body would make a law barring gay, black or Amish people from medical care as such, but I really don’t think we’re debating that here. A doctor’s care is a good, a service for sale on the market. You’re not obliged to buy, he or she is not obliged to sell. But since many people here, people whose opinions I generally value, object to this line of thinking: am I missing something?

                    • Newp Ort

                      I was wrong that it was the 14th amendment itself. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 grants the right to be served in facilities which are open to the public. I am not certain this applies to doctors. There may be Michigan laws which provide greater protection.

                    • Artevelde

                      Alright. No signs like ”no drinks for blacks”, which I’m quite sure is the original idea behind the whole thing, considering it was 1964. But to me this case is more like a man who is in the business of paving driveways. He’s doing well, has plenty of customers and feels uncomfortable around black people, so he just doesn’t do driveways for them. Would you say any law is needed to stop this man from doing as he does, and do you think that such a law can even be enforced?

      • SteveP

        The two “mothers” are misandrists. Plus they have a difficult time with “no means no”. You think that’s okay. Got it.

        • Newp Ort

          Are all lesbians misandrists? Is there something about these two in particular that makes them misandrists?

          • SteveP

            Who cares why they are intolerant and who jumps on their bandwagon: intolerance cannot be tolerated. You think their brand of intolerance is okay. Got it.

            • Newp Ort

              what of the doctor’s actions?

              Catechism re gays:

              They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.

              • SteveP

                The doctor said “no” and is being publicly shamed for exercising her agency. Why are you supporting rape culture?

                • Newp Ort

                  I don’t understand your comments regarding misandry and rape culture. Perhaps you could explain them.

                  I do think gays should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity and not be discriminated against.

                  And who the doctor refused to treat is a child.

                  I don’t support harassment of the doctor, but I don’t consider suggesting her actions are unchristian to be harassment.

                  • SteveP

                    How do you know the content of her prayer and her petition? How is it you know the Father’s response. How it is you know the doctor is not following the Father’s will precisely as did His Christ?

  • Not sure I completely agree with you on this, Mark. A doctor/patient relationship is really important–one of the things about our current form of medical practice is that many people never even get to develop that (e.g., giant group-health clinics where you see a different doctor every time, the gauntlet of dissenting specialists you may have to run during a health crisis, etc.). Maybe this doctor didn’t think she could spend 18 years or so treating this child while having to lie repeatedly to the two people raising her (e.g., “Of course I see you as no different than the other parents in this office, even if they’re all male-female couples raising their own kids. Of course your daughter will be fine and healthy without a dad. Of course it’s okay that your daughter wants to experiment with both same and opposite-gender sex at the age of 15–let’s get her on the Pill and also stress the importance of the various barriers she’ll need). These days, pediatricians are supposed to handle all of those things (and there have been studies which showed that the main difference between children raised by gay couples and children raised by others was a certain level of gender fluidity, earlier ages at sexual experimentation and greater likelihood of experimenting with people of both sexes–this was seen as a positive thing by the study authors).

    We think, “Oh, how awful for a doctor to refuse to see an innocent child!” But the child will grow. She might complain to the doctor when she is seven years old that all the other kids have dads and she wants one, too–and if her emotional health is suffering and creating physical symptoms, what is the doctor supposed to do with that? Explain to the two women that their choice to acquire a baby either through adoption or child-manufacturing didn’t really take the child’s long-term emotional health into consideration, or pretend (like everybody else) that there are NO emotional health risks in not being raised by your own parents? (And you could talk to some adoptees raised by male-female couples and find out that even in a mother-father situation there can be serious emotional health issues, so it’s sort of hard to believe that children being raised by same-sex couples never experience those things.)

    Even a pro-gay rights doctor might find pitfalls in treating children raised by same-sex parenting partners. For a doctor whose religious faith doesn’t allow her to bow to “Tolerance is not enough. You MUST approve,” there are more than pitfalls–there are whole caverns of dangers.

    Now: what about kids dealing with divorce, kids being raised in single-parent homes (including some situations that are dangerous to kids) etc.? Most pediatricians don’t have to choose between their faith and those patients, because the parents of those patients won’t say, “Oh, no, I’m sure little Elsa’s headaches and stomachaches and crying have nothing to do with our recent divorce, so even though in your professional opinion we’ve ruled out actual medical causes how ‘bout we do a test for gluten sensitivity?” And even if they DO say it, they will NOT sue the doctor into oblivion for having suggested their recent divorce might be a teensy bit problematic for a sensitive child, while one can be sure of no such thing these days with same-sex couples.

    This is complicated. We don’t make it easier by sweeping and facile judgments against people like this doctor. If there were no muzzle being placed by the gay-rights movement on people of faith, the doctor could have said freely, “Here’s the deal: I don’t approve of gay ‘marriage’ for both human and religious reasons, I don’t approve of IVF, and if you choose me as your child’s doctor I will feel free to tell you if and when I think that being raised by lesbians is impacting her physical or emotional health. If you’re okay with that, we’re good; if not, here are a few referrals.” But the gay rights movement has created a climate where a person who says that will be driven from his or her livelihood, leaving people like this doctor in an impossible situation.

    • MarylandBill

      Yes, perhaps there are difficulties with treating children when their functional parents are not the same as their biological parents. There are also problems when said functional parents are in denial about those potential problems. That being said, every person has a right to have access to essential medical care. Whats further, Christians have an obligation to care for the sick or in the case of a doctor, to help people stay healthy. Its hard to reconcile that obligation with the actions of this Doctor.

      • Athelstane

        That being said, every person has a right to have access to essential medical care.

        But does every person have a right to *this* doctor as their child’s permanent physician?

        I think Erin raises a valid concern. *If* there were an immediate medical issue, of course the doctor should treat the child. A long-term professional relationship, however, bears reflecting on.

        • MarylandBill

          As I pointed out before, this is not simply a question of what legal right the patient has, but rather our obligation as Christians. The notion that someone else will help them seems an awful lot like the Levite and the Priest who came a long before the Samaritan came a long.

          • Artevelde

            Except for the fact that someone who has been robbed, beaten and left half dead by the side of the road is most likely in urgent need of help. I see absolutely nothing in this story that makes me think this doctor was acting in an non-Christian way. I also don’t think making the opposite choice would have made her less of a Christian. A good professional patient-doctor relationship is of the utmost importance, and I think she handled the case rather well.

          • Athelstane

            Except that the doctor took steps to locate another physician for them.

            And I wasn’t talking about just legal rights, but moral rights, too.

          • I have helped send patients packing and I have helped my wife get through an attempt to destroy her professional reputation when she didn’t send one packing soon enough. One should admire the martyrs but when is martyrdom mandatory?

            Obviously this isn’t a case where martyrdom would likely mean death. It is a tiny, white martyrdom and she just couldn’t handle it one way so she ended up getting it another.

            I do not disapprove the actions of either doctor.

  • Mariana Baca

    If “unjust discrimination” from the Catechism doesn’t apply in this case, I’m not sure in which case it would apply.

    • IRVCath

      Please let this doctor not be Catholic…

  • anna lisa

    I’ve already been the victim of this kind of discrimination.

    I was once looking for a new OB, since I’d moved five hours from the good, Christian doctor who had delivered my other kids. Two nice Catholic Moms had great things to say about the same doctor, so I made an apt. to go see him. I was put instead with a nurse midwife who was a little pushy about trying to get me to see her, instead of Dr. Berg. She insisted on knowing why I insisted on Dr. Berg, so I relented, and told her that I wanted to see a doctor that didn’t perform abortions. A couple of days later, I was informed that no doctor at the clinic would see me because I didn’t “support a woman’s right to choose”.
    I found that incredibly ironic.

    • OverlappingMagisteria

      I would agree with you that it would be very wrong if a doctor refuses to see a patient just because the patient is pro-life…. But that doesn’t seem to be what you described.

      You specifically requested a doctor who does not perform abortions. It seems that they were unable to meet that request because of your restriction, not theirs. (Unless I am misreading your story?)

      • anna lisa

        Well, the thing is, is that I was under the wrong impression–thinking that this was the reason my Catholic friends went to him. I revealed my reasons to the midwife when pressed for an explanation. It turned out that there was not a single doctor in the county that did *not* do abortions, but they didn’t give me the option to stay. They were very curt in the way they summarily dismissed me.

        • Part of the problem may be that abortion in the Church sense and abortion in the medical sense are highly overlapping but two separate things. How the Church deals with ectopic pregnancies may yield a medical code that reads abortion in the explanatory text. The Church does not consider it abortion and it is no sin to do it, or take money for it. Handling a ‘blighted ovum’ yields CPT code 59840, the same code for all D&C abortions. In the case of a blighted ovum, there is no embryo. It’s a misfired pregnancy and would never, ever yield a child.

          So you may be asking whether they would participate in sin but professionally they may be hearing that you want them not to do medically necessary and non-sinful billing codes. When you live and die by the CPT and ICD code books, that will necessarily affect how you hear things.

          I’m not saying that *is* what happened, merely, it might be, and you should check for that mismatch if you aren’t already.

          • anna lisa

            Thanks. After a little more in-depth research, it turned out that there was only one woman in SF who refused to do elective abortions at the time. That wasn’t really an option considering how bad rush hour traffic can get if you happen to go in to labor at the wrong time.

            I went to my SIL’s doctor after that. She ended up presiding over a very traumatic ER miscarriage. She had this way of making me feel bad about being pregnant again. I gave up at that point and opted to see my old doctor, five hours away. I would have to stay there for six weeks prior to my due dates. A few years later, the second doctor nearly lost her medical license for willfully delaying to attend to undocumented women in labor, which resulted in the deaths of at least two babies. She got off on a technicality because of the way the hospital conducted the hearing. It was all over the newspapers.

            Even if I had ended up seeing Dr. Berg, who had seemed pleasant enough, I don’t think I could have ever felt as secure that our lives were in his hands as with my OB, Dr. Green, who ended up delivering all eight of my children. ( He would always say a prayer of thanksgiving at the end.!) All of the delivery room nurses revered him, and near the end of his career our (very liberal) paper “The Independent” put him on the cover, and made a really big deal about what a great doctor he was.

            • When in doubt, trust the nurses to know the good docs.

              You really live in the belly of the beast and now I understand your problem much better. SanFran is about as bad as it gets on this particular teaching.

              • anna lisa

                “The belly of the beast”…

                We live in what is now considered a bedroom community of LA. I’m not sure if the evils we encounter here are less evil than up north–just different. We used to live in a bedroom community of SF. Public education was better, and there was a sense of community. Kids grow up there feeling aware of their duty to their neighbor. I don’t find that here. I think a lot of the liberal mindset up there is really a kind of misdirected *ardor*–answered with a sad bait and switch by the devil. Here, indifference and materialism seems to be more the malady–even if the population seems more “normal”. The flavor of evil here might actually be worse. But I’m not the type of person to beat my breast. From the get-go my confessor urged me on with the reminder that the seed bed of Christianity was pagan Rome. Our new Pope also makes me realize that there really isn’t anywhere to hide when our worst enemy is that pride that comes so easily to humans.

                Would I move from CA if God opened that door because there are less frightful places to raise good kids? (and I’ve asked Him for this!)–Sure. I guess the ball is in His court, because I have already given Him the green light. For now, I’m grateful that my husband has a good job to support us “in the belly of the beast” –and I will continue to give that beast an acute case of heartburn. (Lol! –and I won’t let it color our world.)

      • anna lisa

        oh, btw–this also floored me: When I told my friend what had happened to me at Dr. Berg’s office. She told me that upon finding out how pro-life she and her husband are, the doctor replied: ” Personally,I wouldn’t *off* my own kid–not even if it wasn’t perfect!”
        “off a kid” …

  • Artevelde

    Is a doctor in the USA (or in any particular state for that matter) obliged to actually state the reason for his or her refusal to establish or continue a relationship with the patient? In Belgium, while theoretically one cannot discriminate on the basis of for instance race (and most likely sexual orientation, though I didn’t check), in reality this is irrelevant, because the reason does not have to be mentioned.

    • The doctor also seems to be treating her obligation not to lie seriously, perhaps scrupulously. Doing that sort of thing is a wild ride that I’ve done myself in other areas of life. I’m what is known as a jury nullifier. Unlike most nullifiers, I say it openly. Where I grew up in Westchester, NY, that’ll get you a lecture from the judge. In Chicago, IL, I ended up foreman of the jury.

  • Suppose that this doctor had instead met with the two women and said, “My deeply held beliefs are that marriage is between a man and a woman, and both as a religious believer and as a medical doctor I believe that children do best when they are raised by their own married mother and father in a stable home. Because I put children first I have several patients whose family situations are not ideal, and I always express my opinions as a doctor when those less than ideal family situations are negatively impacting the child’s health. If you choose me as the doctor for the child you are raising together as parenting partners, I need to know that neither my religious beliefs nor my preference as a doctor for children being raised by their own biological parents whenever possible is going to be a problem for you. If you will just sign this document stating that you understand this and that you will not harass, threaten, or sue me if I express any concerns about how your parenting relationship and/or the father’s absence might be impacting the child’s health, then we’re good–but otherwise, in the litigious climate created by the gay-rights movement, I cannot accept the child you are raising as my patient.” Do you think the lesbians would have been any less offended? Do you think they would still have chosen this doctor?

    • Joseph

      When it comes to treating patients, shouldn’t a doctor separate their personal judgements of the lifestyle choices from the patient and concentrate on treating them? Just a thought.

      • Well, Joseph, this patient is the child, not the lesbians, so that complicates matters. A pediatrician can refuse to continue to see a child as a patient because her parents are chronically late to appointments, after all, so the people raising the child and their lifestyle/relationship/etc. do become relevant.

        And that’s before we start talking about the high rate of smoking among lesbians, the high rate of recreational drug use among gay couples generally, and the high rate of domestic abuse in gay and lesbian couples. All of those things are going to impact a child’s health, yet in this day and age it’s politically incorrect to be aware of any of these things, which puts a doctor in an awful spot.

    • wineinthewater

      The only problem is that I think that a medical doctor would be hard-pressed to make the case that the parenting situation was impacting the child’s physical health within the scope of his practice. Children certainly do best raised by mother and father in the same household. But the research has focused almost exclusively on mental and emotional health. These certainly have an impact on physical health, but not usually in a way that most doctors deal with.

      And even if the doctor’s practice was so holistic as to encompass such issues, or if the psychological or emotional impact got significant enough to reach his attention, his religious views still have no place in the discussion. There is variously solid research about the impact of intact, fractured and same-sex parenting, but his religious views can’t be used as the basis for a health claim and so shouldn’t even be mentioned.

      • In my hypothetical, though, the doctor was simply making the lesbians aware of her religious beliefs so that if they were uncomfortable with them they could go elsewhere, not saying that the beliefs would have any impact on her care of the child they are co-parenting.

        I think that pediatricians actually do have to be aware of children’s mental and emotional health, though. The American Academy of Pediatrics and other bodies talk about the importance of mental and emotional health of children. Now, I don’t agree with their recommendations–they are very pro-gay experimentation in adolescents, very pro-transgender, etc. But they frame all of these things as mental/emotional health issues. So it’s not unlikely at all that the doctor might see the child and ask the usual questions (e.g., “And how is school going?”). If the child starts crying and says she gets a stomachache every day because she wants to go home with her best friend because her best friend’s dad works from home and she really likes her best friend’s dad and can’t understand why she doesn’t have a dad…well, what is the doctor supposed to say?

        Actually, I *know* what the doctor is *supposed* to say. She’s supposed to tell the child how lucky she is to have two mommies to take care of her and that families come in all different sizes and that if she wants a dad it’s probably because the other children have teased her about it which is their fault for being mean, or something. The one thing she must agree up front NEVER to do is to validate the child’s feelings that there’s something wrong with having two women pay some anonymous guy to masturbate so they can have a baby that he, the father, cares nothing about. Nobody in this discussion seems to realize what an impossible situation this puts a Christian doctor in–because the lesbians will not only expect her to lie to the child about how wonderful they are but will DEMAND under threat of lawsuits that she do so.

        • wineinthewater

          I guess my experience is that pediatricians should be aware, but until emotional or mental health cause an all-out physical health crisis, they generally do not.

          But again, the doctor can do all she needs to do in this regard without making it a religious issue. She can mention the child development studies about the impact of no father and the impact of same-sex parenting when they become relevant (child has anger management issues, image issues, gender identify or sexuality issues, etc.). It is not that hard to gracefully and tactfully refrain from cheer leading for homosexuality without making a big deal about it.

          You know, as I reread your hypothetical, the core of my issue is what a big deal it makes of the matter, that it makes it seem like the very real health consequences of same-sex parenting are rooted in religious justifications instead of established child development justifications. If the doctor cannot back up assertions about the impact of the family situation with evidence-based arguments and only has faith-based arguments, then those assertions don’t belong in the examination room. And if they can be backed up with evidence-based arguments, then her religious beliefs are a moot point. What it really comes down to is whether the women are willing to have a doctor-patient relationship with someone who does not support their lifestyle. It shouldn’t go any further than that.

          • Wineinthewater, I think the doctor would be in a lot worse trouble if she said, “As a doctor, I don’t support your lifestyle, and here are the relevant medical studies,” because then the couple could sue and bring in their own studies and/or “experts” to prove there’s no harm or negative consequences whatsoever involved in children being raised by gay couples, etc., and then sue her for discrimination or unprofessional conduct or whatever.

            The problem is that we have a background right now of people losing their livelihoods and being sued into oblivion because they don’t want to be forced to approve of gay relationships. I honestly think the lesbian couple would have sued this doctor the minute they suspected she wasn’t an “ally.” They may yet sue. Because this isn’t about a healthy child–this is about forcing every single person to approve and celebrate gay “marriage,” by any means necessary.

            • wineinthewater

              I totally agree with your second paragraph about the problem.

              But your first paragraph is the exact opposite of what I suggested. I suggested that the doctor should certainly keep her religious beliefs separate from the evidence-based research into related matters.

              The more we discuss this, the more convinced I am that bringing religious beliefs in to this conversation at all is unwise. We should be able to treat all people the same regardless of the details of their personal lives. I think that is a fundamental aspect of Christian charity. If they need someone to ra ra their lifestyle, that is their problem. Navigating that situation may not be easy, but it’s far from impossible. Yes its a problem that activists like to use Christians and their beliefs to score legal points, but I think that we only give them ammunition when we refuse relationships with them simply because of their lifestyle and our religious beliefs.

  • Joseph

    Wow. Way to go, doc! Way to exacerbate the last acceptable prejudice against Christians with your stupidity. Who were you ‘praying to’ exactly? I don’t remember Christ turning anyone to came to him for healing away… let alone innocent children who have nothing to do with their parent’s choices. In fact, didn’t Christ say, ‘let the little children come to me’. So, you were acting on your Christian beliefs by *not* being Christ-like? Fabulous. Usher in the wave of anti-Christian vengeance that is surely on the way. Like Mark said, don’t be surprised when children of Christian parents are turned away because of their parent’s beliefs.
    A *real* doctor would treat anyone regardless of what behaviour they engage in.

  • Mike Petrik

    I agree that ideally the doc should have been able to separate her disapproval of the lesbian relationship from her ability to attend to the child’s medical needs. That said, when her self-examination suggested otherwise she went out of her way to behave honestly and ethically by ensuring that this shortcoming would not harm the child in any way. In that regard it is reasonably obvious to any fair-minded observer that the doc would have treated the child if there were any risk of those needs being unfulfilled. The doc’s self-admitted doubt that she could form an appropriate medical relationship with this “family” is certainly not worthy of our praise and can fairly be considered a moral lapse, but the self-righteousness oozing from Mark’s post and much of the commentary is even more disturbing. Living a life counter to today’s zeitgeist is hard, and good Christians struggle when encountering situations that ask for some type of cooperation with evil. The boundaries of materiality and direct/indirect are vexing even for theologians, so it is hardly surprising when ordinary folks struggle and fumble. This doc found the lesbian relationship so disturbing that she feared that she would not be able to form the close relationship with those “parents” optimal for the child. While that is perhaps not admirable, I do not think it warrants the contempt displayed in so many comments. The earnest attempt at kindness and sensitivity displayed by the doc puts to shame much of the self-righteous blather I’ve been reading on this thread.

  • Mike Petrik

    I take back my characterization of Mark’s original post. While it takes unfair liberties with the behavior and intentions of the doc at issue, its tone is not self-righteous, and I should not have so-characterized it. I just wish he and others could demonstrate more measure and fair-mindedness.