Through a couple’s unbelievable story, one can evaluate the disrespect and hardship that same-sex couples experience on a day-to-day basis. Krista and Jami Contreras tells the story of how in October 2014 they took their six day old baby Bay to its first wellness appointment with Dr. Vesna Roi. To their surprise an unfamiliar face, Dr. Karam, welcomed them and informed the couple that she was going to be their new pediatrician. It was further explained that after a long period of reflection and praying, Dr. Roi was unable to care for baby Bay based upon her discomfort on the sexual orientation of the couple. Four months later Dr. Roi wrote a letter the to same-sex couple stating., “I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationship that I normally do with my parents” (myFOXDetroit.com Staff, 2015). It was a shock to both Krista and Jami, as their first thought of Dr. Roi was that they were, “really happy with her. [and] the kind of care she offered [they- liked her personality, [and thought] she seemed pretty friendly and straight up with [them].” Fortunately, Krista and Jami were able to find a substitute pediatrician who accepted them for who they were, a same sex couple. With the disgraceful attitude toward their family the Contreras looked into what they can do about this situation. But to their dismay Dr. Roi, by law, has free choice to treat people in this way as Michigan there are no laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families from discrimination. This story illustrates a small fraction of the bigger problem in the United States where U.S law fails to support same sex couples against discrimination and inequality.
Many LGTBQ people experiences bias when receiving healthcare, as they may not be aware of the rules that protect them from discrimination. There are a number of states that have laws that protect LGBTQ patients against differential treatment or refusal of treatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity (Michon, 2015). Twenty-two of the fifty states have laws that prohibit discrimination based on a persons sexual orientation (see table).
Table 1- Illustration of the states prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Michon, 2015)
The American Medical Association (AMA) has taken a positive attitude on physician treatment of gay, lesbian and transgendered patients. In its ethics opinions, which serve as a model for how all physicians and their employees should practice medicine, the AMA states, “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” (Michon, 2015). The AMA further states “will work to reduce the health disparities suffered because of unequal treatment of minor children and same sex parents in same sex households” (ibid).
Unfortunately, some doctors have found a way to refuse patients of same sex couples without breaking the law. Parallel to the above-mentioned law, the AMA has another law that states doctors can refuse treatment if it is incompatible with their personal, religious or moral belief. This law enables homophobic healthcare providers to discriminate LGTBQ families. Doctors can say they have personal, religious or moral beliefs not to care for a gay patient, but realistically they are refusing to care for a patient based on the patient’s sexual orientation. Similar to the Contreras case, Dr. Roi was allowed to refuse healthcare to baby Bay because of her own personal beliefs. This makes it difficult for LGTBQ families such as the Contreras, to fight against this type of discrimination because the AMA laws protect doctors.
Under the Universal Declaration of Human rights Article 25 (1) it states that everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services (The universal declaration of human rights, 2015). For LGTBQ families who do not have the freedom or ability to find another doctor that will care for them, it may mean that they will not get the proper healthcare they need. It is disgraceful that people can be denied the right to equitable care and have a healthy quality of life, based on their sexual orientation.
Fortunately North America does not implement compulsory heterosexuality. The concept of a heterosexual relationship is decreasingly becoming the social norm, a change in a positive direction. More countries need to embrace this change, and accept those who express themselves in the LGTBQ community without discrimination. There needs to be a new law passed that gives no choice or reasons for doctors to discrimination against same sex couples, and allow everyone the equal and optimal healthcare.
Dana Nessel is one among many who are advocating for equality for everyone. She is one of the attorneys in the Michigan same sex marriage case that is now headed to the United States Supreme Court. Nessel refers to the legislation called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act now in the State Senate, which opponents say would allow people to discriminate based on their moral or religious beliefs. If everyone followed Nessel’s example, LGTB people would feel equal and safe in our world.
In conclusion, this story illustrates how people can find any loophole to legally discriminate against same sex couples. It is sad to think that healthcare providers would refuse treatment to any individual based on their sexual orientation. In this situation, heartbreak goes out to Bay. She is only six days old and has already faced discrimination. It is to hope that when baby Bay grows older, the discrimination towards her and her mothers will dissipate. In that world baby Bay can grow up to be a healthy individual and treated equally, as everyone should be.
Michon, Kathleen. “Health Care Antidiscrimination Laws Protecting Gays and Lesbians | Nolo.com.” Nolo.com. Nolo Law for All, 2015. Web. 16 Mar. 2015. http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
MyFoxDetroit.comstaff. “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-sex Couple’s Baby.” – Fox 2 News Headlines. MyFoxDetroit.com, 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 09 Mar. 2015. http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/story/28142401/doctor-refuses-treatment-of-same-sex-couples-baby
“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UDHR, Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Declaration, Human Rights Charter, The Un and Human Rights.” UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2015. http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/