UPDATE 11/15/13: It appears that this story isn't true. Both the hospital and Bray are now saying that she's been allowed to visit her partner.
UPDATE 11/20/13: Bray has been arrested for attacking her partner in front of her children and then attempting to make it look like an overdose.
An Indianapolis lesbian has been banned from her unconscious partner's bedside by a Catholic hospital because her partner's mother doesn't approve of their relationship. The two women have plans to marry in Iowa next month and picked out rings earlier this week.
Sarah Bray, 34, says her partner was taken Wednesday morning to Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis after a drug overdose. Bray says she was able to visit her partner until her partner's mother arrived and ordered her to leave.
The case raises complicated questions about hospital visitation rights, especially for same-sex partners. Gay rights advocates argue that Bray's rights are being violated. But legal experts consulted by The Indianapolis Star say not enough details are known to determine whether the hospital is discriminating against her by allowing Bray to be banned from the room.
A memorandum signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 extends hospital visitation rights to same-sex partners at hospitals that accept Medicare and Medicaid -- even in states such as Indiana that don't recognize same-sex partnerships. It also extends patient care decisions to same-sex partners if they have been designated as the next-of-kin representative.
The patient typically determines who that next-of-kin representative is. But in cases such as the St. Francis one, in which the patient can't voice that choice, doctors ultimately have the power to decide.
Joe Stuteville, a hospital spokesman, acknowledged that the hospital usually gives the upper hand to a patient's next-of-kin representative to determine who can or can't visit. "Without having the specifics on this case," he said, "I can only say we do not discriminate. We understand end-of-life issues."
Sadly, this is hardly the first time there have been problems with hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples in Indiana and in July of 2010, a transgender woman was denied care at a Muncie hospital.