I was totally shocked by the heading of the news as “Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple’s baby” when I first saw it. I doubted that the heading might be exaggerated in some extent in order to attract the readers’ eyes. I am not surprised by the fact that LGBTQ people are still treated unequally by the society, however, it is really hard to imagine how can a doctor, as one of the most respectable and honorable jobs in the world, rejects such a tender young soul who doesn’t even have a sexual orientation yet. However, it turns out that the doctor did decline a treatment with a six-days-old baby without notifying the family in advance by stating the conflict between the treatment and her religious belief. Here is the address for the news: http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of-%20same-sex-couples-baby
There might be people saying that what Dr. Vesna Roi did is not illegal and she should not be criticized. The first reason is that even if Roi had copped to her homophobia, Michigan – the state they live, isn’t among the 22 states with laws protectingLGBTQ people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation (see figure 1). Besides, it seems that Roi handled things in an appropriate way because she turned the treatment over to another doctor and also apologized for her behaviour. Nevertheless, Roi’s decision as a licensed doctor, raises an ethical and moral issue.
Fig. 1. Same-sex marriage in the United States
Here are some reasons stating why Roi’s behavior is a betrayal to Hippocratic Oath， medical ethics. Firstly, as it is stated in the Hippocratic Oath – the principles of which are held sacred by doctors to this day – “I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure; I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm” (Tyson). It can be explicitly identified that it is a doctor’s duty to prevent disease in even the healthy members of our society without a single specific exception. Nevertheless, Roi obviously failed to accomplish the oath by not treating her patients equally regardless of their background. Furthermore, Roi failed to fulfill the Code of Medical Ethics offered by American Medical Association (AMA) because in one of the principles, it is stated that “However, physicians who offer their services to the public may not decline to accept patients because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other basis that would constitute invidious discrimination. Furthermore, physicians who are obligated under pre-existing contractual arrangements may not decline to accept patients as provided by those arrangements” (Opinion 9.12 – Patient-Physician Relationship: Respect for Law and Human Rights). It can be seen that Roi did the opposite of the principles by declining the pre-existing meeting merely based on her parents’ gay sexuality, which became a perfect example of anti-gay discrimination.
According to Roi’s letter of apology, she is obviously emphasizing that the only reason for her denial of the treatment is that it was against her religious belief. The new bill proposed in Michigan’s state legislature on nondiscrimination protections for the LGBT community “ introduced the ‘religious freedom’ bill specifically as a ‘necessary companion’ to the LGBT rights bills that had already been proposed” (Ford). This action has actually enabled anti-LGBTQ discrimination because it is a perfect excuse for people who don’t want to take the blame of exerting discrimination. However, if we look mor closely into the underlying meaning of religious freedom, it is not appropriate for people like Roi to use this as excuse. Brooker Tucker, one representative from American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan（ACLU）once claimed in his committee that “Religious freedom means the freedom to exercise your individual religious beliefs. It does not mean the ability to impose your beliefs on others nor requiring the state to finance your discrimination against those same taxpayers who do not share your beliefs” (Tucker). Contrarily, Roi is imposing the idea of heteronormativity to The Contrerasas by saying in the letter that “I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients” (MyFOXDetroit.com Staff). Here, putting her words in another way, it seems she is referring the baby from LGBTQ family as abnormal and only the patients from heterosexual family is normal. The result that The Contrerasas cannot be viewed and treated equally definitely became a stigma for them because it was the doctor that they appreciated and trusted in after the first impression who exerted discrimination against them. Consequently, this notion that religion justifies the discrimination of other human beings is rather contradictory to religion itself and to the concept stated by Cornel West that “justice is what love looks like in public” (West).
Throughout this disappointing and shocking news, people should realize it is a high time for state like Michigan to complete its legislative system, exerting more equality to different groups of people among the society. Also, there should be more people like the Contrerasas to speak out their misfortunes because that’s the only way to let the society realize the harm discrimination brings.
Ford, Zack. “Michigan Advances ‘License To Discriminate’ While LGBT Protections Stagnate.” ThinkProgress RSS. 4 Dec. 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2014/12/04/3599833/michigan-rfra-discrimination/>.
MyFOXDetroit.com Staff. “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby.” – Fox 2 News Headlines. 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of- same-sex-couples-baby>.West, Cornel. “Cornel West Quotes.” Cornel West Quotes (Author of Race Matters). Goodreads. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/6176.Cornel_West>.
“Opinion 9.12 – Patient-Physician Relationship: Respect for Law and Human Rights.” Opinion 9.12 – Patient-Physician Relationship: Respect for Law and Human Rights. American Medical Association. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/physician-resources/medical-ethics/code-medical-ethics/opinion912.page>.
Tucker, Brooke. “Committee on Families, Children and Seniors.” ACLU of Michigan. , Michigan. 18 Feb. 2015. Lecture.
Tyson, Peter. “The Hippocratic Oath Today.” PBS. PBS, 27 Mar. 2001. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/body/hippocratic-oath-today.html>.