Harvard Doctor Who Questioned Hospital’s Pro-Gay Policy Loses Final Appeal

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by Church Militant  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  December 18, 2015   

Dr. Paul Church was fired from his job at a Boston hospital for objecting to its promotion of homosexuality

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BOSTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - A respected member of the Harvard Medical School faculty has officially been expelled from his position at a major Boston hospital for voicing concerns about the hospital's promotion of the LGBT lifestyle. 

The board of directors of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) has informed Dr. Paul Church, on the Harvard faculty and a doctor for nearly 30 years at the hospital, that they will uphold his dismissal from the hospital and that his medical privileges have been permanentely rescinded. 

The removal took place following more than a decade of voiced concerns from the doctor over the hospital's promotion of LGBT interests. For three years beginning in 2004, Dr. Church and others sent emails to the hospital president and the board of directors following yearly announcements of the hospital's "Gay Pride Week." Scheduled events included an LGBT achievement award ceremony celebrating BIDMC's "commitment to inclusion and respect" as one of their "most deeply held core values and cherished traditions." 

Doctor Church's response noted the "evidence is irrefutable that behaviors common within the homosexual community are unhealthy and high risk for a host of serious medical consequences." He stated that it "is altogether inappropriate for BIDMC to endorse, affirm or encourage the behaviors 'celebrated' by Gay Pride Week." The doctor finished by calling on the hospital to "put [their] mission as a healthcare institution ahead of misguided zeal for political correctness and inclusiveness."   

The emails were met with what was described as insinuations of "discrimination." 

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Dr. Paul Church

In 2007 then-BIDMC president Paul Levy posted one of Dr. Church's emails on his personal blog, resulting in cries of bigotry, with comments questioning Church's morality, medical credentials and beliefs. A healthcare worker associated with the hospital commented that the "ignorant doctor" needed "proper training" in LGBT issues. 

After responding to the 2009 annual pride week email, Dr. Church was summoned before his department head, where he was accused of harassment, misconduct and violating hospital policies because he had included the two employee LGBT organizers in his email response. He received threats of disciplinary action.

An email sent around in May 2011 concerning that year's LGBT Achievement Award Ceremony included the announcement that the hospital would be shooting a pro-LGBT video titled "Making It Better." Dr. Church responded to the email, stating he "would be delighted to offer a view from the 'other side' and expound on the significant health risks posed by homosexuality and its high-risk behaviors" and noted the idea "seems especially appropriate for a healthcare institution." He claims he received no reply. 

That June, hospital staff were sent an email inviting them to participate in the Boston Gay Pride Parade. Dr. Church wrote a letter to BIDMC interim president Eric Buehrens summarizing the medical risks of homosexual behavior and cautioning the president of encouraging such behavior. He claims he again received no reply. 

Beginning in July an investigation headed by an "Ad Hoc Focused Peer Review Committee" was launched into charges of "harassment" against Dr. Church. The committee stated it would examine the doctor's "professional performance as a member of the medical staff" and "incidents involving conduct and communications" believed to be in violation of BIDMC bylaws. 

In a personal statement presented to the committee in September, Dr. Church stated that he has had "a multitude of patients over the years who would identify themselves as gay, lesbian and even transgender" and that his interactions "have always been nonjudgmental, compassionate and professional," citing the hospital's "greater mission of promoting healthy behaviors and lifestyles."

A later letter from Dr. Church to the committee chairman pointed out that "[t]ruly caring for the well-being of individuals requires telling them the truth about their choices."

By November the doctor received a "Letter of Reprimand" threatening further discipline unless he abided by the following condition:

There shall be no communications, verbal or written, sent to or made available to, BIDMC employees, medical staff, or other work force members, patients or visitors concerning your opinion about sexual orientation, homosexuality or other protected status.

A second committee was formed in September 2014 to investigate Church for violating the conditions of the letter of reprimand. This investigation culminated in an appearance in February 2015 before the entire Medical Executive Committee, which consisted of physicians, administrators and appointees.

On March 30 2015, BIDMC president Dr. Kevin Tabb informed Dr. Church that, despite an outpouring of support from coworkers and thousands of signed petitions from over 70 countries, the committee had voted to remove him from BIDMC. 

Following the board's official dismissal, Dr. Church released a statement yesterday saying he was "deeply disappointed" with the outcome, but is grateful that his concerns have been brought "into the spotlight of the public arena." 

Dr. Church concluded by expressing his "sincere regrets that the administration and Directors have departed from the institution's higher mission and calling in favor of following a highly controversial social agenda" and announced plans to continue his medical practice elsewhere as a doctor dedicated to "advocating for healthy and moral choices."

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