MAJOR MEDICAL

NV Lesbian Couple Denied Hospital Rights Despite Valid Domestic Union

Terri-Ann Simonelli and Brittney Leon checked into Spring Valley Hospital because of complications with Leon’s pregnancy. But when Simonelli began inquiring about her domestic partner’s status, they were informed by the admissions officer that same-sex couples needed power-of-attorney to consult on medical issues.

A 2009 law provides states domestic partners have “the same rights, protections and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.”

The women tried to explain that to administrators but were told essentially, “rules are rules.” Sadly, in addition to being kept apart from her partner during this ordeal, Leon lost her baby.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports the hospital seems to be standing its ground:

A woman who identified herself as public relations representative at Spring Valley Hospital told a Review-Journal reporter in a phone interview that the hospital policy requires gay couples have power of attorney in order to make medical decisions for each other.

When asked if she was aware of Nevada’s domestic partnership law, she accused the reporter of bias and hung up the telephone.”

Maybe the Obama Administration could extend the hospital-visitation policy it announced last year to prevent situations like this?

It’s debatable whether there would be any point to Leon and Simonelli suing the hospital: There’s no real provisions in the Nevada statute for punishing individuals or institutions that violate the domestic-partnership law.

But they say they hope their tragedy will help the push for fair treatment of LGBT patients: “I am usually a big fighter. But I was so emotionally upset. It was a very bad day for us,” Simonelli tells the Journal. “We went there thinking we had the state’s backing, and then we were told we were wrong. It didn’t matter that we were registered domestic partners. It should matter.”