Child Denied Medical Care 2015

Child Denied Medical Care 2015

In recent news, a lesbian couple was rejected from medical care for their newborn daughter by a pediatrician recommended to them by their midwife. The doctor who declined this couple, Dr. Roi, said that she “prayed on it and won’t care for Bay (the newborn baby)”. Roi also failed to come into the office the day of the couple’s appointment, perhaps to avoid any confrontation. The couple was shocked and through the use of popular culture and the media, attention accumulated on this issue.

According to Bill 4309 in the state of Michigan (where the couple resides), it is legal for physicians to decline medical care based on their personal, religious, and moral beliefs. Although I agree with doctors keeping this right, I strongly support implementing ways to educate physicians on how to refuse patients in an appropriate manner, not in a shameful way. It was expressed in an interview after the story was released that the couple felt embarrassed and humiliated, as they were simply parents trying to protect their child. Many gay and lesbian couples face troubles in regards to people disapproving of their relationship, however this dissatisfaction has been spread to their innocent child. A baby does not know anything about discrimination, however, she is exposed to it six days after birth and this is something that will continue throughout her lifetime based solely on the sexuality her parents. Homophobia, or fear of homosexuality, is abundant through all fields of society (Aulette and Wittner 113). In addition, there are no laws in Michigan to protect LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer) couples in medical dilemmas such as this.

After attention was brought to this situation, Dr. Roi responded to the couple with a letter. In this letter she wrote, “I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients.” This letter is completely inappropriate and an unhelpful apology. The couple’s baby has not self identified her sexuality and because she is the patient, it should not matter. Therefore, in this case an intersectional analysis can be provided to understand the correlation between religious beliefs and homophobia.

This family goes against the standard story which always involves a female body that is attracted to men or a man attracted to a woman with no exceptions (Aulette and Wittner 20). Although they differ from what many in society view as “normal”, they should be allowed to have a doctor who will respect them and their life choices. They are legally married with a baby who has not declared her sexuality. It is often a controversial topic to discuss the overlap between religion and opinions about homosexuality. Those with religious beliefs have every right to express them however, there are ways to do so that are less homophobic. The intersectionality displayed here is the crossroads between religion and sexuality. The formation of beliefs towards differing sexualities grows increasingly complicated when religious or moral beliefs are tied into the decision-making. In terms of medical associations, it is important to treat all patients equally, regardless of their life decisions and views. Therefore, unless a doctor truly feels as if they cannot provide adequate care for such a patient, they should attempt to care for them to the best of their ability in order for LGBTQ couples to attain equal rights.

Dr. Roi has exemplified binary thinking because she has chosen to reject her patient. She sees the situation with two options: either she accepts the daughter of the lesbian couple as her patient or she declines the family. Although she has full legal rights to reject the patient, there is a difference between doing so in a proper manner and doing so in a harmful, damaging way. For instance, the doctor could have denied the patient before an appointment was set up so the couple did not obtain any feelings of excitement towards Dr. Roi for their daughter. Additionally, Dr. Roi could have recommended another pediatrician from the very beginning to avoid maltreatment. Therefore, because doctors will continue to support their religious beliefs, educational programs should be implemented in private practices and hospitals in order to teach physicians kind ways to reject a patient while stilling maintaining their ability to practice their legal rights. This way both parties will receive justification for their actions: doctors can express their beliefs and LGBTQ couples can seek other, more suitable medical help.

In the end, the couple realized that they did not want a doctor treating their daughter who thinks less of the patient anyways. This is a heart wrenching story because many gay couples experience homophobia throughout their lives and six short days after their daughter is born, she too is experiencing harassment. Something needs to be done to prevent this issue from continuously occurring. A beneficial place to start is proper education for physicians because it avoids changing the doctor’s beliefs while keeping all parties involved content.


Aulette, Judy Root and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds Third Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.

Gamrat, Cindy. “House Bill 4309.” Michigan Legislature. 5 March 2015. Web. 8 March

Staff, “Doctor Refuses Treatment of Same-Sex Couple’s Baby.” MyFOX Detroit. 18 Feb. 2015. Web. 5 March 2015.


5 thoughts on “Child Denied Medical Care 2015

  1. Your article is very comprehensive since it presented readers with both sides of the stories and analyzed the situation from a number of perspectives. It is evident that Dr.Roi made a number of ethical and professional mistakes, but the major mistake was refusing treatment to a patient who was a newborn child. It seems like Dr.Roi viewed the lesbian parents as patients rather than the parents of the patient. The Bill 4309 is also highly controversial since from my perspective a doctor should provide patient with treatment regardless of race, gender, or religious affiliation. Unless there is a conflict between the patient and the doctor, doctor should be obliged to treat the patient. Finally, the doctor-patient relationship is not a form of friendship, it is the physicians’ professional obligation and their job. People do not go to the doctor to socialize or get to know each other better, but instead go to get a treatment. I also agree with you that the letter Dr.Roi wrote is totally inappropriate, but I would not really say she was giving an apology, she was rather defending herself after a disastrous decision.


  2. You mentioned that the doctor has a binary way of thinking in terms of religion and homosexuality. The issue of binaries is also prevalent in which the doctor only deems one side of the binary acceptable. In this case she believes that heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation that is considered “normal”. It is unfortunate that the doctor is allowing her religion to cloud the entire spectrum of sexual orientation: not just homosexual or heterosexual. In an related article it is expressed that the laws being passed are making it easier for physicians to discriminate against patients. I believe this is taking a step backwards in progress because it enables people to oppress others. I agree with your statement that instead of passing such laws, children should be educated at a younger age in order to instil the notion or equality and acceptance. Do you think new, harsher laws will cause more discrimination or do you believe that the physicians that were going to discriminate would have found a legal way to do so in the first place?


  3. I very much enjoyed reading your entry. I felt you really touched on the important injustices that occurred in this situation. Specifically I thought where you elaborated that the child itself has done nothing to deserve this was a very strong point. No one has control over who their parents are and I feel it is reprehensible to penalize the child for something as bigoted as reasons of disapproving sexual orientation. What shocks me most about this article is that a medical professional, who has taken an oath to protect the lives of individuals, is denying the protection of health for reasons that in reality have no affect on the well being of this medical professional. The fact that there even is a “standard story” is harmful all in itself. Who is anyone to judge a family that is not their own. There is no factual evidence that a certain race, religion, or sexual orientation is better suited to parent a child and I believe we should be making a conscious effort as a society to promote this. However the better question is how. How are we as a society supposed to do this? We speak so much recently about how things need to change, but in what ways can we bring about this change?


    1. As i mentioned in my analysis of the article, the best way to implement change is to educate people starting at a young age. Education is the first step towards justice because it will allow people to decide what they believe in based on their own opinions, not something their religions, families or peers are telling them to believe. Although educational programs that inform youth about their right to choice may not solve every problem, it is a good place to start.


  4. When reading this article I became very upset because of the fact that a doctor’s job is to treat his or her patients and this doctor refused a patient who’s parents are homosexual. Not only is this disturbing because the baby has no current sexual orientation so why should it matter that her parents are not heterosexual. Secondly, sexual orientation shouldn’t matter because a person is a person and everyone deserves equal rights and to be treated with respect. I strongly agree with your belief that a doctor should refuse a patient before an appointment is made because in the article it does state that the moms liked Dr. Roi when they first met her. I also like your statement that Dr. Roi could’ve found another doctor to treat their baby instead of leaving them to find one themselves after being rejected. Imagine if all doctors refused to care for homosexual patients or patients who have some sort of relationship with someone who is homosexual. Many people around the world would never get the help they needed or deserved.


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