Saturday, February 16, 2008

Transgender Rights Bill H1722 Would Force Catholic Hospitals to Perform "Sex-Change" Surgeries

In California, a man who wants to be a woman is suing a Catholic hospital for refusing to allow his “breast augmentation” surgery there. (photo left)

Get ready: If the Mass. Transgender Rights Bill H1722 is passed, it would make it illegal for any hospital here, including a religious hospital, to refuse such “sex-change” surgeries. Freedom of religion would go out the window, since hospitals are named in Massachusetts law as “public accommodations.” (Ch. 272, Sec. 92A) Bill H1722 would ban discrimination on the basis of “gender identity or expression” in all public accommodations, including hospitals. There is no exemption in the bill for religiously-affiliated hospitals, businesses, or organizations.

In the past few years, we saw former Governor Romney allow homosexual demands to overtake our supposed freedom of religion: First, Catholic Charities’ ban on adoptions by same-sex couples was disallowed (though there was not even a law requiring this, just administrative regulations!). Then, Romney’s Dept. of Public Health forced Catholic hospitals to dispense morning-after pills. In both of those cases, even former Governor Dukakis said there were no laws requiring those policies. So, given that hospitals are specifically named in the existing public accommodations law, this new situation would be even more cut and dried.

Existing Mass. law, Section 98 of chapter 272 (here including the proposed new phrase, "gender identity or expression"), seems to imply that even speaking publicly against the non-discrimination law could result in fines &/or imprisonment:

“Whoever makes any distinction, discrimination or restriction on account of race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, which shall not include persons whose sexual orientation involves minor children as the sex object, deafness, blindness or any physical or mental disability or ancestry relative to the admission of any person to, or his treatment in any place of public accommodation, resort or amusement, as defined in section ninety-twoA, or whoever aids or incites such distinction, discrimination or restriction shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both, and shall be liable to any person aggrieved thereby for such damages …” [emphasis added]

From the Fox News story (1-18-08):
... Hastings, who already has had one major sex-change surgery, claims that Seton Medical Center in Daly City, Calif., would not allow her plastic surgeon to operate on a transgender person.
"I honestly believe that God has plans for me to have this surgery," Hastings told
"I felt simply less than equal," she said. "Here I am, a woman. I had the reassignment surgery, and not to allow me this right, I felt violated."...
The Catholic hospital does not allow transgender surgery, [the hospital's] statement says.
"Seton Medical Center, a Catholic hospital and a member of the Daughters of Charity Health System, provides services to all individuals. However, the hospital does not perform surgical procedures contrary to Catholic teaching; for example, abortion, direct euthanasia, transgender surgery or any of its related components."
Shannon Minter, legal director for the Center for Lesbian Rights and an expert on transgender rights, said California law protects Hastings.
"It's against California law, and it's wrong," Minter said. "They should be ashamed of themselves for turning away anybody because of their identity."
Minter said the Unruh Civil Rights Act protects Hastings against discrimination based on gender identity, adding that there is no exception for religious-affiliated businesses. [emphasis added]