Transgender Sues Catholic Hospital for Denying Treatment

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by Stefan Farrar  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  January 6, 2017   

TRENTON, N.J. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A transgender who is biologically a woman is suing a Catholic hospital for refusing to perform a hysterectomy as part of her sex change. The lawsuit, filed January 5 against St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, is alleging discrimination.

Jionni Conforti had scheduled the procedure at St. Joseph's in 2015. The hospital, according to Conforti's lawsuit, refused to do the surgery because the procedure would've violated its Catholic ethical guidelines.

Conforti, who began her sex-change transition in 2004, remarked, "I felt completely disrespected as a person. That's not how any hospital should treat any person regardless of who they are. A hospital is a place where you should feel safe and taken care of. Instead, I felt like I was rejected and humiliated."

Lambda Legal, a gay rights organization, is representing Conforti in her lawsuit and is claiming the hospital discriminated against their client. Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, staff attorney for Lambda Legal who represents Conforti in this case, commented, "These health care providers must comply with federal and state anti-discrimination laws so that the health of LGBT people, who walk through their doors, is not endangered."

Although a nurse allowed the procedure to be scheduled, the doctor in charge of the planned surgery was informed by hosptial administration that it wouldn't be allowed because it violated Catholic teaching.


Father Martin Rooney, the hospital's Director of Mission Services, wrote in an email to Conforti,

This is to follow up to your email inquiring about scheduling a total hysterectomy here at St. Joseph's to remove all female parts based on the medical necessity for Gender Reassignment. This is to inform you that as a Catholic Hospital we would not be able to allow your surgeon to schedule this surgery here at St. Joseph's.

This lawsuit comes only a week after a federal judge in Texas blocked a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regulation that would force Catholic hospitals to provide sex change surgery.

Lori Windham, Senior Counsel for the Becket Fund, a legal organization which advocates for religious liberty, remarked, "This court ruling is an across-the-board victory that will ensure that deeply personal medical decisions, such as gender transition procedures, remain between families and their doctor."

The HHS regulation would have required Catholic health providers to provide any and all services related to gender transition, including hormonal treatments, counseling and surgery. The Becket Fund brought suit against the federal government on behalf of the Franciscan Alliance and the Christian Medical and Dental Association.

Windham commented, "[The government] has no business forcing private doctors to perform procedures that the government itself recognizes can be harmful, particularly to children, and that the government exempts its own doctors from performing."

In his ruling O'Connor wrote,

The government's usage of the term sex in the years since Title IX's enactment bolsters the conclusion that its common meaning in 1972 and 2010 referred to the binary, biological differences between males and females. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010 and for more than forty years after the passage of Title IX in 1972, no federal court or agency had concluded sex should be defined to include gender identity.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who also joined in the suit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regulation, commented, "This striking example of federal overreach under Obamacare would force many doctors, hospitals and other health care providers in Texas to participate in sex-reassignment surgeries and treatments, even if it violates their best medical judgment or their religious beliefs."

The Catholic Church has spoken out strongly against the notion that one can change or choose one's gender.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his or her sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life."

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI said, "People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given by their bodily identity, which serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves." Pope Francis has also condemned transgenderism.

In his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si, he wrote,

The acceptance of our bodies as God's gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation.

During a meeting with Polish bishops at World Youth Day 2016, the Holy Father excoriated gender ideology. "Today, schools are teaching children — children! — that everyone can choose their own sex," he said. "And why is this being taught? Because their textbooks are chosen by the people and institutions that give money. This is ideological colonization, promoted by very influential nations. This is terrible."

Pope Francis also commented on a conversation he had with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. "Speaking with Pope Benedict, who is well, and has a clear mind, he was telling me: Holiness, this is the epoch of sin against God the Creator. He's intelligent! God created man and woman, God created the world this way, and we are doing the opposite."

 

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Stefan Farrar

Stefan Farrar is a staff writer for ChurchMilitant.com.