Having a baby is stressful. Birth is stressful. One of the most stressful things about the process of person to parent is finding a pediatrician. Finding a doctor whom you would be able to trust with the life and well-being of your child is frustrating and intimidating. This person, this professional would have to be able to translate screaming and fussiness of children under the age of four and talk sleep-weary parents off the ledge when they don’t know what else to do when Web MD and Google have failed them for the thousandth time. Pediatricians are integral and important — and after birth? You are asked the pediatrician’s name, and the practice they are associated with or employed by.
After the birth of my own children, my chosen pediatrician was called, and she came to the hospital where I delivered. It is essential to the newborn, and their survival, for check-ups to be given at specific intervals. There is the one-day check up (after birth), two-day check up, and 3-5 day check up. After these visits, the baby will be seen at the following intervals: 4-week (one month) mark, 2-month, 4-month, six months, nine months, 12 months (one year), 15 months, 18 months, and 24 months (two years). Then every year for a well-child checkup.
It must be said the checkups for the first month of life are necessary to attend to any other issues which may present in the babies–especially, failure to thrive syndrome or pediatric jaundice (which my oldest daughter had) so that they can be treated. In Oak Park, Michigan, Krista and Jami (pronounced “Jamie”) chose a pediatrician, Dr. Roi, for their new daughter, Bay, who was born in October 2017. At the 6th day of life, Bay, without the ability to talk or defend herself, or ask her parents why, the pediatrician chosen by her parents decided after ‘praying about it’ decided she could no longer treat her. Why? Only because her parents are a lesbian couple.
I need this to be recorded–this doctor is a bigot. This doctor has no concept as to what it means to heal, to serve or to put the honor of her profession above her personal opinions. I, too, am a woman of faith, and I try to exercise that faith on a daily basis. My faith influences all I do, and I try and reflect that in and to all the people I encounter–even if they don’t believe as I do. The problem I have with this story, the thing that his glaring, is Dr. Roi was chosen for Bay, knew the soon to be born baby had lesbian parents! At the six-day checkup, a new pediatrician, after Dr. Roi had been Bay’s doc six whole days, Dr. Karam, came into the examination room and told these parents Bay’s pediatrician chose not to be involved with her care because of who her parents are. Dr. Roi didn’t even come to the office that morning because she didn’t want to interact with Bay’s parents.
A child has no idea what it means to be discriminated against and will not remember this slight from someone who has pledged to help safeguard her childhood and help her parents adjust to the same childhood. It is okay for this physician not to want to treat and decide not to treat a child because of whom her parents are. Is it fair? No. Is it her opinion and prerogative? Yes. As effed up as we may think it is, and it’s legal.
You cannot hide behind bigotry in medicine and call it faith-motivated. You cannot do that and adhere to the top tenant of the Hippocratic Oath: do no harm. Even the guidelines of the American Medical Association take a “strong stance against denying care to people because of their sexual orientation” but it’s guidance. Which is all ethics are–moral guidance. Ethics are given power when enough people adhere to them.
There is a reverence often given to people in the fields of nursing and medicine. Society assumes these are the professions which can or should be removed from bigotry, discrimination and apathy. We think they should be removed from it because of what their job involves, and the extra level of empathy or understanding which is believed they should have. Doctors are still people with hangups, issues and preconceived notions which hinder them from doing their best work.
In the age of Trump, post-marriage equality acts, and repealing of what it means to identify or be represented as LGBTQIA, stories like this will be become more common if only because bigotry has been unmasked and people are happy to tell you why they believe its right. In doing no harm, Dr. Roi has proven her taking of the Hippocratic Oath has made her a hypocrite.