A Catholic hospital in Trenton, N.J. is being forced to defend itself after they refused to remove a transgender man’s uterus.
Jionni Conforti is a 33-year-old man who had scheduled a hysterectomy at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center back in 2015. He filed a lawsuit after he was told the hospital couldn’t perform the surgery because it was a Catholic hospital. He was able to get the procedure done at another hospital, but he is hoping to get a court order requiring the hospital to provide the procedure for future transgender patients. He is also seeking monetary damages.
“The damages caused by the delay, as well as the humiliation and the stress caused by being discriminated against, is something that cannot be excused and are contrary to the law,” said Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Conforti’s attorney. “St. Joseph’s purportedly prides itself on having a patient-first approach. When you discriminate against a patient because of who it is that really is not putting the patient first.”
The hospital, however, is claiming First Amendment protection. In its response filed Friday, they argue that being forced to perform the procedure would go against their religious beliefs. Other related cases in recent memory are the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases, although those had to do with contraceptives and not transgender surgery. Both of those cases were ruled in favor of the religious groups..
The hospital believes that the “court system shouldn’t be able to interpret ethical and religious directives from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops followed by the hospital.” The directives they follow say that procedures deemed “morally wrong” by the church don’t have to be performed by hospitals operating under the church. They also cited state law that says hospitals can’t be forced to provide “sterilization services or procedures.”