A lawsuit has been filed against a Catholic hospital in California for refusing an elective hysterectomy to a female who identifies as a man and who sought the procedure as part of a sex reassignment.
The suit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Evan Minton, who had a hysterectomy scheduled for August 2016 with the Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Carmichael, CA, in the Sacramento metro area.
Minton claims the procedure was cancelled once the hospital learned that Minton was transgender, and asked to be referred to as “he.” The hospital offered to send Minton to a different medical center.
“We feel very clearly that they discriminated against me because I’m transgender – and that is against the law,” Minton told local media.
The ACLU alleges in the suit that the hospital’s actions amount to “sex discrimination in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act” which prohibits businesses from discriminating against patrons on the basis of one’s gender. The group is seeking a court order that would force the hospital to perform elective hysterectomies in the future.
Dignity Health, the group that owns Mercy San Juan, was able to transfer Minton to one of its Methodist hospitals a few days after the initial procedure was denied.
Following Catholic teaching, Mercy San Juan does not perform elective sterilization procedures on anyone.
Dignity Health said in a statement that it cannot reply to the allegations because they have not yet been served with the complaint.
“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. We understand how important this surgery is for transgender individuals, and were happy to provide Mr. Minton and his surgeon the use of another Dignity Health hospital for his surgery within a few days.
“We do not provide elective sterilizations at Dignity Health’s Catholic facilities in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (ERDs) and the medical staff bylaws.”
The ACLU has long opposed Catholic hospitals operating according to Catholic teaching.
The ACLU and the group the MergerWatch Project co-authored a 2013 report that claimed the growth of Catholic hospitals was a “miscarriage of medicine.”
In 2015, the ACLU sued the Detroit area’s Trinity Health Corporations, one of the largest Catholic health care operations in the United States, for their refusal to perform abortions and tubal ligations. The lawsuit was dismissed.
In 2016, an ACLU report alleged that Catholic hospitals put women at risk for following Catholic teaching regarding abortion and reproductive health.
Also in 2016, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against a Catholic hospital in Chicago, claiming it had denied IUD removal to Melanie Jones. However, a representative from Mercy Hospital told CNA that the doctors at Mercy Hospital had offered to remove the woman’s IUD — the removal is an entirely ethical procedure from the Catholic moral standpoint — but Jones declined.
All Catholic hospitals in the United States operate under the U.S. Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, which ban abortion, sterilization, emergency contraception, and tubal ligations.