Assisted by the ACLU, a transgender woman seeking to become a man has filed suit against a private, California Catholic hospital for refusing to perform her hysterectomy—a procedure she claims is essential to her transition.
Evan Michael Minton sought to have the elective surgery at Mercy San Juan Hospital, a Catholic hospital affiliated with the Dignity Health network, but was informed that the hospital would not perform the procedure.
Minton was immediately referred to a non-Catholic hospital within the same network, and her hysterectomy was performed within several days.
Even so, Minton claims that she was “discriminated against” since Mercy San Juan Hospital refused to perform the surgery because she is transgender. Minton and the ACLU assert that such selective care is illegal. Together, they are seeking a judgment against the hospital and $4,000 in damages.
“It devastated me, and I don’t want it to affect my transgender brothers and sisters the way it affected me,” Minton said. “No one should have to go through that.”
Dignity Health contends that it does not employ discriminatory practices. “What we can share is that at Dignity Health Mercy San Juan Medical Center, the services we provide are available to all members of the communities we serve without discrimination,” hospital administration said in a statement.
Minton’s lawsuit faces a major challenge—Catholic hospitals do not perform hysterectomies or any procedure that defies the church’s doctrine unless it is medically necessary. The policy stems from the Catholic belief that married couples should not produce barriers to having children.
Catholic hospitals do not perform abortions or prescribe contraceptives, and cite their First Amendment right to freely exercise religion in support of their position. Minton’s case could be viewed as similar to Hobby Lobby’s request for exemption from an Obamacare mandate requiring the company to provide free birth control to its employees.
The Hobby Lobby case reached the Supreme Court—Burwell v. Hobby Lobby—and established that a private entity run by those with strong religious convictions cannot be forced by the government to act in violation of those beliefs.
The ACLU contends that all medical facilities should be required to perform the procedures eschewed by Catholic hospitals regardless of religious convictions.
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