SAN FRANCISCO, September 20, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) - A three-judge panel of the California state Court of Appeal ruled this week that a gender-confused woman may continue to sue a Catholic hospital for refusing to remove her uterus as part of her 'transitioning' into a man.
Evan Minton is suing Mercy San Juan Medical Center for canceling a hysterectomy, a decision Minton alleges was made at the last minute once she mentioned her "transgender" status to a nurse. The hospital's parent company Dignity Health arranged within 72 hours to have the procedure performed at another, non-Catholic hospital, yet Minton argues the initial denial still constitutes discrimination under the state's anti-discrimination law, the Unruh Act.
The lawsuit seeks $4,000 in damages as well as an injunction forcing all Dignity Health hospitals to perform hysterectomies for gender dysphoria and to stop "discriminating on the basis of gender identity or expression, transgender status, and/or diagnosis of gender dysphoria in the provision of health care services, treatments, and facilities."
The appeals court panel unanimously sided with Minton on Tuesday, the Los Angeles Times reports. As a result, the case will proceed to trial in San Francisco County Superior Court.
"Upholding Minton's claim does not compel Dignity Health to violate its religious principles if it can provide all persons with full and equal medical care at comparable facilities not subject to the same religious restrictions," Justice Stuart Pollak's ruling reads, citing California Supreme Court precedent that "any burden the Unruh Act places on the exercise of religion is justified by California's compelling interest in ensuring full and equal access to medical treatment for all its residents."
That Dignity Health arranged within days for Minton to have the procedure elsewhere did not mitigate the discriminatory nature of the "startling and painful" original rejection, Pollak claims. "It cannot constitute full equality under the Unruh Act to cancel his procedure for a discriminatory purpose, wait to see if his doctor complains, and only then attempt to reschedule the procedure at a different hospital. ‘Full and equal' access requires avoiding discrimination, not merely remedying it after it has occurred."
But Dignity Health rejects the premise that it discriminated in the first place, issuing a statement that "Catholic hospitals do not perform sterilizing procedures such as hysterectomies for any patient regardless of their gender identity, unless there is a serious threat to the life or health of the patient."
The US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services hold that "direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary," is "intrinsically immoral" and therefore "not permitted in a Catholic health care institution." (Procedures with the side effect of sterility are only allowed for the "cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology" if a "simpler treatment is not available.")
"If Catholic hospitals can be required to remove healthy organs, why can't they also be compelled to perform an abortion or assist in suicide, if a law is written declaring such refusals to be unlawful ‘discrimination?'" the Discovery Institute's Wesley Smith warns. "Catholic medicine is on the social justice gibbet. Hospitals, nursing homes, and other institutions may soon be forced to choose between ceasing being ‘Catholic' - or closing/selling hospitals to maintain religious integrity."