An Indianapolis hospital has raised the tricky legal question of whether or not romantic partners should be allowed visitation rights without the approval of the patient’s parents and family. Sarah Bray, 34, recently attempted to visit her partner, who was taken to a hospital for a drug overdose, where she remains unconscious. Bray’s partner’s mother, however, refused to allow Bray to be in the room. After Bray had been visiting for some time, her partner’s mother arrived and forced her to leave the hospital.
The legality of the situation is not entirely certain. Although Barack Obama signed a memorandum in 2010 that allowed hospital visitation rights for same-sex partners, Indiana does not recognize same-sex partnerships. Also, next-of-kin individuals are given priority visitation rights, and have the legal right to convince doctors why an individual should be banned from visiting. That reason, however, has to be determined to be valid by doctors.
“You’d have to have a good reason. It would have to boil down to a medically necessary decision,” Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis professor Jennifer A. Drobac explained to the Indianapolis Star.
Simply being a same-sex partner does not constitute “a medically necessary decision,” LGBT rights supporters believe.
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Speaking with USA Today, GetEqual Indiana spokesman David Stevens explained that the issue had broad implications for LGBT hospital visitors.
“This is a clear violation of LGBT hospital visitation rights,” Stevens said.