With the help of the ACLU, a transgender woman looking to “transition” to being a man is suing a private California Catholic hospital for refusing to perform her hysterectomy – a procedure she considers necessary to her transition.
Evan Michael Minton says she went to Mercy San Juan Hospital, a Catholic hospital that operates as part of the healthcare network Dignity Health, to get her elective hysterectomy but discovered that the hospital wouldn’t perform the surgery.
They immediately referred her to a non-Catholic hospital within the same Dignity Network that would, and Minton said goodbye to her uterus within just a few days.
But she still says that she was “discriminated against” because the first hospital refused to perform the procedure, and that it’s all because they disapprove of her being transgender. She claims that kind of selective care is against the law and the ACLU agrees – so she’s asking for a judgment 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 says it doesn’t discriminate against anyone. “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.
There’s a major problem with Minton’s lawsuit. Catholic hospitals, as a rule, don’t perform hysterectomies, or any procedure that goes against the Church’s teaching unless it’s medically necessary. The policy is pursuant to Catholic dogma that married couples forego barriers to having children – and that includes keeping the baby-making essentials (like the uterus) intact.
The same hospitals won’t perform abortions or prescribe contraceptives, and consider their ability to refuse part of the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion, not unlike Hobby Lobby’s request to be exempted from an Obamacare mandate requiring them to provide birth control free of charge to its employees.
The resulting Supreme Court case, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, established that a private entity run by people with strongly held religious beliefs cannot be forced, by the government, to act in violation of those same beliefs.
Minton was likely treated the same way any patient would be treated: the hospital she claims discriminated against her immediately referred her to a medical facility that would happily and quickly provide her with her hysterectomy. But that’s clearly not enough for Minton and the ACLU, who claim all facilities should be required to perform these surgeries, religious beliefs or not.