Creep of the Week: Dr. Vesna Roi

By | 2015-02-26T09:00:00-04:00 February 26th, 2015|Creep of the Week, Opinions|

Having a child is one of the most stressful things you can do. Yeah, it can be one of the most amazing parts of your life, but it also opens your eyes to a whole world of horrors you’ve never even contemplated before. Sudden infant death syndrome? Check. Spina bifida? Check. Tay-Sachs? Check. If you spend enough time on Web M.D. you can easily convince yourself that your baby doesn’t have a chance at survival.
Which is why, of course, you should talk to a real doctor instead of scrolling through nightmare-inducing photos of rare birth defects in your free time. A good pediatrician is essential for both your baby’s health and your sanity. And so many parents begin the process of researching and choosing a pediatrician before their babies are even born.
Which is what Krista and Jami Contreras did when they chose Dr. Vesna Roi. They met with her before the birth and everything seemed great. So they scheduled an appointment for after their baby was born.
Imagine their surprise when they show up for their appointment only to find a different doctor greet them and inform them that Dr. Roi “prayed on it” and decided she couldn’t be their family’s doctor because their baby had two mommies.
“I was completely dumbfounded,” Krista told the Detroit Free Press.
“It was embarrassing. It was humiliating,” Jami added. “It’s just wrong.”
Wrong, yes. Illegal? No. Michigan, like many other states, has no law protecting LGBT people from discrimination. So Roi was completely within her rights to pass the couple on to another doctor simply because they’re lesbians.
Roi eventually sent the couple a handwritten apology letter. “I am writing this letter of apology as I feel that it is important and necessary,” she writes. “After much prayer following your prenatal (visit), I felt that I would not be able to develop the personal patient doctor relationship that I normally do with my patients.”
The letter sounds very sincere. I believe that Roi genuinely feels bad. However, it’s possible to be sincerely wrong.
She also writes, apparently without irony, “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.”
In other words, I would never judge you for choosing to be lesbians. Except for how I’m totally judging you right now.
Roi’s online ratings have taken a hit with plenty of pissed off reviews lambasting her prejudice. And some of them are pretty nasty. But she also has plenty of defenders — patients who claim she’s being unfairly maligned and sing her praises. And to those patients I say: lucky you. Both for not being gay and for having a good relationship with your doctor. But if Roi’s actions don’t give you pause, that says a lot about you, too.
Some have applauded Roi’s honesty, pointing out that the Contreras family wouldn’t want a doctor who didn’t want to work with them; this defense is similar to that used for wedding vendors who have refused service to LGBT couples. As if the burden is on the couple to keep hunting for someone who doesn’t hate them to bake them a cake rather than on the baker for being a bigot.
Roi is a bigot. Thankfully, this is not a terminal condition. Roi should do the important and necessary work of being an adult and confront her biases and challenge them instead of offering up “prayer” as if it’s a cloak of immunity for discrimination.

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