Live

Watch CBSN Live

Pediatrician refuses to care for baby with two moms

Bay Windsor Contreras is 4 months old and she's the apple of her mothers' eyes. But the new family has already had to confront the reality of discrimination from a place they never expected.

Her two moms, Krista and Jami Contreras, were married in Vermont in 2012 under the state's same-sex marriage law, which passed in 2009. Last October, they welcomed beautiful baby Bay into the world.

A month before the arrival of their daughter, the moms connected with pediatrician Dr. Vesna Roi at Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, Michigan. She came highly recommended by their midwife.

Roi told the couple to make an appointment once Bay arrived. Six says after she was born at home, the family headed to the pediatrician's office. But instead of seeing Roi, another doctor greeted them.

The new doctor told the mothers that Roi decided that morning that she wouldn't be able to take Bay on as a patient, because of the mothers' sexual orientation. Roi hadn't even come to the office to avoid encountering the family.

The new mothers were shocked, hurt and angry. Krista Contreras said the news took the two of them by surprise because Roi seemed friendly and nice when they first met in the fall.

"As far as we know Bay doesn't have a sexual orientation yet so I'm not really sure what that matters," Jami Contreras 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?"

Bay's parents proceeded with the appointment with the other doctor then found another pediatric group for their baby.

Still upset, the new moms shared their story on social media. People started calling Eastlake Pediatrics to express their alarm. "It was embarrassing, it was humiliating," said Jami. "Here we are, new parents trying to protect her. 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."

On February 9, nearly four months after the appointment, the Contreras family finally received a letter from Roi. The doctor wrote:

"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," the letter read. "We do not keep prenatal information once we have our meetings so I had no way to contact you. I should have spoken with you directly that day...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."

It turns out Roi has free choice, too. In the state of Michigan, there are no laws that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families from discrimination. "Under current Michigan law, a doctor has an absolute right to refuse medical treatment on the basis of sexual orientation," legal analyst Charlie Langton told CBS Detroit.

The American Medical Association says that while physicians cannot refuse to care for patients based on sexual orientation, doctors can decline to provide a specific treatment sought by an individual if it is "incompatible with the physician's personal, religious, or moral beliefs."

Roi told the Detroit Free Press that she could not comment on the family's case, citing federal privacy laws. But she emphasized how much she cares for her patients. "My life is taking care of the babies," Roi told the paper. "I love my families, my patients. I love my kids. And I have become very close with all my patients."

Late last year, the Michigan State Senate considered but failed to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would allow people -- including doctors and other health professionals -- to refuse to do business with others based on moral or religious beliefs.

This is all the more reason why the couple decided to go public with their story, Krista Contreras said. "Hopefully us telling our story can make sure by the time she's 6 years old this kind of thing can't happen," she said.

View CBS News In