Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple's baby
DETROIT (FOX 2)- Bay Windsor Contreras is 4 months old and she's the apple of her mothers' eye.
Both of her mothers, Krista and Jami Contreras were married in Vermont in 2012.
In October 2014 they welcomed a beautiful baby bay into the world and were quickly confronted with an ugly reality, one they say from a place they never expected.
"As far as we know Bay doesn't have a sexual orientation yet so I'm not really sure what that matters," Jami said. "We're not your patient - she's your patient. And the fact is that your job is to keep babies healthy and you can't keep a baby healthy that has gay parents?"
Last September when the expectant mothers first met Dr. Vesna Roi at Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville. She was recommended by their midwife.
"We were really happy with her," Krista said. "The kind of care she offered, we liked her personality, she seemed pretty friendly. She seemed pretty straight up with us."
The Contrerasas were told to make an appointment with Roi once Bay arrived. The baby was born at home and when she was six days old - they went in.
But instead of seeing Dr. Roi, 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 said.
"Dr. Karam told us she didn't even come to the office that morning because she didn't want to see us."
The new mothers were shocked, hurt and angry.
"It was embarrassing, it was humiliating and here we are, new parents trying to protect her," Jami said. "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."
Bay's parents proceeded with the appointment with the other doctor then found another pediatric group for their baby.
"When we started calling other pediatricians my first thing on the phone was, we're lesbian moms - is this okay with you," Krista said.
Still upset, the new moms shared their story on social media. People started calling Eastlake Pediatrics to share their alarm. On Feb. 9, nearly four months after the appointment - the Contrerasfamily finally received this letter from Roi.
The letter read:
"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."
"We do not keep prenatal information once we have our meetings so I had no way to contact you."
She apologizes, saying, "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.
As it turns out, Roi has free choice too - 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.
And here in Michigan - there are no laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families from discrimination.
"We already don't have laws to protect these sort of families," attorney Dana Nessel said. "And worse, we are considering passing laws that allow further discrimination."
Nessel is one of the attorneys on Michigan's same sex marriage case now headed to the United States Supreme Court. She referred to 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.
All the more reason, says Jami, to raise awareness now.
"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," she said. "So we just really wanted people to know - this is happening to families."
And this family, which now has a different pediatrician they say they love, is grateful that sweet baby Bay was only six days old and doesn't know anything about discrimination.
"Hopefully us telling our story can make sure by the time she's six-years-old this kind of thing can't happen," Krista said.
Thanks to our sister station Fox 2 Detroit for sharing this story. You can follow them at www.myfoxdetroit.com