The oppressive story of the rejection of Bay Windsor Contreras by their pediatrician shows the systematic refusal of acceptance for anyone who is outside the “norm” of our society. Bay Contreras’s mothers (a lesbian couple) showed up for a wellness check-up of their 6 day old daughter only to be told that their scheduled pediatrician, Dr. Vesna Roi, would not be able to take on their child as a patient because of her personal religious beliefs that did not allow her to accept their lifestyle as a lesbian couple. The mothers, understandably, were shocked and horrified by this, as are many people in learning about this event.
A few months following this humiliating experience, the mothers received a letter of apology from Dr. Roi that contained a number of noteworthy things. The doctor states in the letter that she “should have spoken with [them] directly” (Myfoxdetroit.com) rather than not coming into the office for fear of encountering these mothers after making her decision. This doctor acted in a very cowardly, unprofessional way regarding her decision to not take on their child as a patient, and even though she apologized, it does not erase her actions. Furthermore, she also states that “after much prayer…I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient-doctor relationships that I normally do with my patients” (Myfoxdetroit.com). It is important to note that the sexual orientation of the parents of her patient was the problem, not the patient herself. Seeing as the patient was only 6 days old, and much too young to be able to express any sexual orientation, there was no reason for the doctor to be uncomfortable regarding the child (Myfoxdetroit). This aspect of the situation is ridiculous; if this child had been presented to her as the child of a heterosexual couple, there would probably have not been any problems.
Furthermore, one of the most hypocritical points of this doctor’s letter is that she states that “I believe that God gives us free choice and I would never judge anyone based on what they do with that free choice” (Myfoxdetroit.com). Although she says she would not judge someone based on their lifestyle choices, she refuses to treat their child due to the sexuality of her patients, which seems as if she is casting a judgement on the family due to the non-traditional style of their family. Furthermore, she is insinuating that sexuality is a choice and not an innate part of someone.
There are evidently many issues surrounding this entire story. However, I believe it is important to look at all sides of a story before forming a personal opinion. The doctor, although she acted unprofessionally in this situation, felt that the combination of her religion and her profession could not allow her to treat this patient. Some religious people are fundamentalists, and hold “a belief in the literal word of the Bible [or other holy document] as a document without error” (Aulette and Wittner, 476). Someone’s religion can be as defining as any other aspects of who they are; if the doctor follows the historic laws of her religion, which may suggest that homosexuality is wrong, then her actions regarding this situation could be understood. This raises many questions; is it morally right or wrong to ask someone to engage with someone else who practices a lifestyle completely opposing to their beliefs? Is it right or wrong to ask someone to separate their religious life style from their professional lifestyle, when both are important parts of who they are?
Finally, I also believe the doctor did make the right choice if she truly believed that it would be challenging for her to form a relationship with this family due to the sexuality of the mothers. It is safe to assume that any mother would want the best health care possible for their child. This does not mean that Dr. Roi was morally correct in her decision, or that the way she handled the situation was right, but it is presenting the doctor’s point of view in this situation.
In our society, binary constructs are being challenged, and fortunately, often disregarded because of awareness about situations similar to this one. But why is it that the American Medical Association states that “doctors can refuses treatment if it’s incompatible with their personal, religious or moral beliefs” (Myfoxdetroit.com)? Why is there a movement to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which “would allow people to discriminate based on their moral or religious beliefs” (Myfoxdetroit.com)? Why is our society constantly fearing the unfamiliar, so much so that it allows people to professionally discriminate because of their own personal beliefs? Our society is constantly taking steps forward, only to take a step backwards when we allow situations like this to take place. It should be straightforward that we should all love and respect one another, despite differences in beliefs and sexuality. These kinds of situations force everyone to have pattern recognition for the people who are experiencing discrimination (in this case, a lesbian couple), and the types of people who are oppressing them (in this case, a (presumably straight, cis-gendered) female of a high-class profession) that are shown time and time again.
Aulette, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. Print.
Myfoxdetroit.com,. ‘Doctor Refuses Treatment Of Same-Sex Couple’s Baby’. N.p., 2015. Web. 5 Mar. 2015.