The video clip I chose to talk about is a local news broadcast about a same-sex couple’s experience with a local paediatrician. The title reads “Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple’s baby”. The article recounts the story of how lesbian new mothers Krista and Jami Contreras went to their first appointment for their newborn daughter Bay, only to meet a different doctor than the one they had booked the appointment with. They were told upon arrival that Dr. Vesna Roi, the original paediatrician they were booked with, would not be seeing them anymore and would not take Bay under her care. Her reasoning being that she had “prayed on it and wouldn’t be able to care for [her]” (myFoxDetroit.com staff: “Doctor refuses treatment of same-sex couple’s baby”). Naturally, the couple was shocked and offended, as it was blatant prejudice and discrimination based on sexual orientation.
One of the most alarming things about this was the fact that the doctor chose to take her personal views and prejudices out on a child whom, to the mothers’ knowledge, “…doesn’t have a sexual orientation yet…” (myFoxDetroit.com). She based her religious and moral beliefs on a child solely because of the lifestyle of her parents. While this may not be illegal in the state of Michigan, it does pose some morality questions on the part of the doctor, considering the fact that she refused care to a six-day-old infant. As a cis-gendered, straight, woman, there are power structures in place that allow Dr. Roi to deny care to this child. The mothers went on to recognize that this was something they had prepared for and knew they were bound to experience at some point, “but not at our six-day-old’s wellness appointment”.
The other issue that this article highlights is the fact that there are laws in place that essentially protect this sort of behaviour, and that more are being argued for that would actively allow discrimination based on sexual orientation. To quote the article “…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.” Because of this, what Dr. Roi did was technically legal, though most would agree, morally wrong. The article also cites Dana Nessel, an attorney on Michigan’s same sex marriage case. It explains the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, “which would allow people to discriminate based on their moral or religious beliefs.” This not only could apply to medical professionals, which in itself is horrifying and dangerous, it also applies to the rest of society such as storeowners, businesses, large corporations, schools, and more.
This creates a massive issue, as it essentially allows systemic discrimination against anyone who does not fit a specific religions set of criteria for what is right. This applies to many of the LGBTQ community, but also to people of other religions. It just feels as though we are legalizing more and more ways to judge, oppress, and hate each other. Freedom of religion is a privilege of living in North America, but is it right if it comes at the cost of the rights of others? By passing this law, we affect the health, education, rights, experiences, and most importantly safety of thousands of people. As a legal document, we legitimize the discrimination and further divide our society. This is a huge step backwards for us, not only if it passes, but even the fact that the bill was conceived and seriously considered. We can’t expect equality for anyone in our society if we constantly advocate and allow different systems of oppression to be considered a religious right.