Doctor Refuses Treatment for Lesbian Couple's Baby

by Winnie McCroy

EDGE Editor

Thursday February 19, 2015

A Michigan lesbian couple has finally received a reply from a doctor who refused to treat their baby girl last fall because it was incompatible with her personal and religious beliefs.

Fox Detroit reports that Krista and Jami Contreras, a lesbian couple who married in Vermont in 2012, gave birth to their daughter Bay Windsor Contreras in October 2014. Before the baby arrived, the expectant mothers called prospective pediatrician Dr. Vesna Roi in Roseville, Michigan, who was recommended by their midwife, letting the doctor know they were a lesbian couple who was expecting a baby soon.

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

Their baby was born at home, and when Bay was six days old, they took her to Dr. Roi for her first visit. But instead, 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 Contreras said. "Dr. Karam told us she didn't even come to the office that morning because she didn't want to see us."

The couple was shocked and embarrassed, saying, "here we are, new parents trying to protect her. And we know this happens in the world and we're completely prepared for this to happen other places. But not at our six-day-old's wellness appointment."

They found a different pediatrician, and spread the word about the folks at Eastlake Pediatricians. Four months later, Dr. Roi reportedly sent this letter.

"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," wrote Roi. "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."

FOX 2 contacted Roi who said that she could not comment, citing patient privacy laws. In fact, her behavior is protected under Michigan law. 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.

Michigan has no laws to protect LGBT families from this sort of discrimination, and is already considering passing laws that would permit further discrimination. The Contreras only hope that their story can open others' eyes.

"If they're discriminating against anyone, I would want to know because I wouldn't want to support that doctor, dentist or whoever's doing it," said Jami Contreras. "So we just really wanted people to know -- this is happening to families."

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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