PJM: ACLU Sues Catholic Hospital for Refusing to Perform Transgender Surgery

https://pjmedia.com/trending/aclu-sues-catholic-hospital-for-refusing-to-do-transgender-surgery/

I agree with the moral position the author of this piece stakes out: Doctors and hospitals must not be forced to perform services to which they object in their professional/philosophical judgement.

20 thoughts on “PJM: ACLU Sues Catholic Hospital for Refusing to Perform Transgender Surgery

  1. I suppose that you missed it that this article is dripping with ignorance and bigotry about this medically recognized and routinely treated condition. Here are a few snippets that should have clued you in . . .

    “a woman who thinks she is a man”
    “further self-harm through the process of mutilating her body”
    “Setting aside the immorality of transgenderism”
    “Ms. Knight’s body mutilation”

    There are indeed Constitutional issues at stake here. The most important is protecting and enforcing the establishment clause. Corporations are not people, my friend. There is not evidence in the article that ANY actual person is to be compelled to do anything.

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    1. I don’t see how any of the phrases you call out from the article signal “ignorance and bigotry.” On the contrary, since you don’t explain your allegation, I’m inclined to assume it amounts to mere name-calling, which itself signals ignorance and bigotry on your part.

      Also, your claim that no one is to be compelled to do anything ignores the fact that lawsuits have exactly that effect.

      If you have a valid argument to support the proposition that doctors and hospitals can be sued for refusing to perform procedures they have conscientious objections to, let’s hear it. So far, your haven’t done so.

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      1. Treating a medical condition as a moral choice is bigoted and ignorant.

        Referring to medically prescribed surgery as “mutilation” and “self-harm” is ignorant.

        Calling “transgenderism” “immoral” is ignorant and bigoted. Maybe YOU can explain how having a medical condition is “immoral.”

        “Freedom of religion” is not a license for bigotry in public accommodations and services. That is the slippery slope that Hobby Lobby has us headed down. In this case, the somehow religiously inspired bigotry of whoever made this decision is causing actual harm to a suffering individual.

        Where do we draw the line on this nonsense? And who decides? Can a Jehovah’s Witness doctor be sued if he lets your child bleed to death because of his “religious freedom” to find blood transfusions sinful? If the government starts to give special privileges to people who CLAIM to have religious objections but not to others then it is ESTABLISHING which religious beliefs are valid and which are not.

        And, again, corporations are not people. No actual person is being compelled to do something that is to them unconscionable in this case. There is a doctor willing to provide the needed surgery. As a corporation that is undoubtedly the recipient of vast amounts of public funding, this hospital conglomerate must be required to serve the public without religious bias as a condition of receiving such funds.

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      2. I appreciate your effort to be more precise. At least now we can identify the various fallacies in your reasoning:

        RE: “Treating a medical condition as a moral choice is bigoted and ignorant.”

        Here you misrepresent the reality. It was not the condition but the treatment to which the doctor in question presumably objected. Objecting to treatments for various reasons is fairly common in medical practice.

        RE: “Referring to medically prescribed surgery as ‘mutilation’ and ‘self-harm’ is ignorant.”

        Here you present your own opinion as fact. The doctor in question presumably has superior knowledge in this matter compared to you and to the patient. If it was his opinion to regard the prescribed surgery as mutilation and self-harm, I’d say his opinion carries more weight than yours or the patient’s. But even so, it is a fallacy to regard your name-calling as objective or factual.

        RE: “Calling ‘transgenderism’ ‘immoral’ is ignorant and bigoted. Maybe YOU can explain how having a medical condition is ‘immoral.'”

        This depends on what you mean by “transgenderism,” but leaving aside your fallacy of relying on ambiguous terms, there are doctors, scientists and ethicists who credibly argue that transgenderism is not a medical condition. They say, for example, that a person is either male or female such that it is an immoral lie to pretend that a person can be something else, or switch from one to the other. Perhaps you disagree, but again it is a fallacy to present your own opinion as fact.

        RE: “‘Freedom of religion’ is not a license for bigotry in public accommodations and services.”

        I might argue that it should be, but it is unnecessary to have that discussion in this context. Here, secular ethics are sufficient to establish a conscientious objection to the procedure the surgeon refused to perform. Your fallacy is in attacking a straw man.

        RE: “And, again, corporations are not people.”

        You say so, but as a matter of legal principle they in fact are. You commit a number of fallacies with your assertion, the most significant being simple misstatement of fact.

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        1. Baloney – factually and logically.

          It is clear that the CONDITION of “transgenderism” is treated as an aberrant moral choice by this writer.

          I did not introduce the term “transgenderism.” Your writer did. If it is some sort of fallacy, take it up with him.

          It is not the doctor who is denying the planned surgery – it is the hospital that pulled the plug at the last minute. From the article . . . “Knight’s doctor said he and other physicians regularly perform the procedure. The discriminatory denial was because Mr. Knight is transgender.” So, your repeatedly relying on the expertise of the doctor is a major whiff. The doctor did not want the treatment – already started with chemicals and major surgery – stopped.

          Whatever “secular ethics” might be in play, the article you linked to treated the matter as one of religious freedom.

          Corporations may be legal persons but they are not people and they can not have religious beliefs. And that is especially true of large scale corporations such as this one.

          In short, I have not misstated any factual material, not attacked a straw man nor committed any other logical fallacies as you are now doing.

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          1. RE: “Baloney – factually and logically.”

            If you say so, but doubling down on your own fallacies only shows that you are not open to reason. And we still haven’t gotten to the crux of the matter: Whether doctors and hospitals can be sued for refusing to perform procedures for which they have conscientious objections.

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    2. I respect the right of people to make changes to their bodies, though experience shows it to be unlikely to lead to lasting happiness, but I think we must also respect the rights of individuals and organizations to decline to participate.

      You can’t respect the one and deny the other.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Setting aside the immorality of transgenderism…”

    Why is it immoral?

    Is that based on anything other than personal preference or is there some moral dictum we should be cognizant of?

    And body mutilation for a hysterectomy? What’s up with that. Women get that procedure all the time for a variety of medical reasons. Are they all “mutilations”?

    We are struggling with First Amendment rights v law. It is not an easy topic. But this one is, in my opinion.

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    1. RE: “Why is it immoral?”

      The author doesn’t say, presumably because he intends to set aside the proposition.

      RE: “And body mutilation for a hysterectomy? What’s up with that?”

      Would you not consider it mutilation to cut off a healthy leg? I would.

      RE: “We are struggling with First Amendment rights v law.”

      I don’t see how the 1st Amendment applies here. One can have a conscientious objection to performing a hysterectomy without invoking religion.

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  3. “Would you not consider it mutilation to cut off a healthy leg? I would.”

    Rhinoplasty, face lifts and breast implants are also body altering “mutilations” whether done for vanity or as a transgender procedure.

    Acceptable for one, but not the other?

    Pre-emptive hysterectomies and mastectomies for those with family histories of cancer are not unusual.

    And, more importantly, the choice of the patient for personal reasons.

    There may be some that feel that sexual identity is solely based on the presence or absence of the “y” chromosome or a particular set of genitalia. Just like whether gay or straight is a choice.

    The more we learn and understand, we find that human sexuality is complex.

    The guiding principles of our Constitution is to protect “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

    If someone wants to be a baker, a banker, an artist, a farmer, or change his sexual identity, then he or she should not be denied by a profession sworn to ease human healing and suffering because of contrasting religious beliefs. .

    My contention is that if a person is miserable because they genuinely feel trapped in the wrong body, the healing arts should do their best to alleviate the pain.

    Also those doctors worked for an organization that receives federal funds or subsidies via Medicare, Medicaid and favorable tax exemptions.

    IMHO

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    1. RE: “My contention is that if a person is miserable because they genuinely feel trapped in the wrong body, the healing arts should do their best to alleviate the pain.”

      There are people who are miserable because they genuinely feel trapped in the wrong body because they have two healthy legs. Do you think it is appropriate for the healing arts to alleviate their pain by cutting off the legs?

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      1. Oh really. Please cite any sane person that want healthy limbs chopped off?

        You are trying awfully hard to avoid the central issues.

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          1. And for this we are denying sex change procedures?

            OK, let’s deny any plastic surgery for the same reasons. Someone knew a relative with a prettier nose or bigger breasts.

            How about we ban all guns because some use them to kill randomly.

            Oh, but, but…

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          2. “And for this we are denying sex change procedures?

            Who said anything about denying sex change procedures?

            There are lots of hospitals to choose from, what I object to is requiring THIS particular hospital that for whatever reason does not want to participate, to provide a service it does not want to offer.

            As a photographer, would you want to be required to provide photographs of people doing something you found objectionable, such as sex with a model who appeared to be underage? Or people dressed in Nazi regalia?

            And, of course, I reject the whole public accommodation nonsense anyway.

            Liked by 1 person

      2. RE: “You are trying awfully hard to avoid the central issues.”

        To me, the central issue is this: Can doctors and hospitals be sued for refusing to perform procedures for which they have conscientious objections?

        You and Murphy seem to believe that the conscientious objection is invalid in this case for one reason or another or, at least, doesn’t merit consideration.

        I disagree. I think the objection is consistent with the kinds of treatment decisions doctors and hospitals make every day. Should a hospital choose not to amputate the healthy legs of a person with body identity disorder, for example, I would respect that decision.

        Nor do I think the lawsuit in question rises to a Constitutional level. Instead, putting on my Judge Wapner robes, it seems to me the hospital could not have entered into an enforceable contract with a patient it judges to be pursing self-harm. There being no meeting of the minds with respect to the procedure, there was no contract to perform it.

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        1. You continue to fudge the actual issue in this case. The doctor was not to be forced to do something against his conscience. He was being prevented from completing the therapies that he had prescribed and which were already well under way based on the religious belief OF OTHER PEOPLE that it is immoral to be suffering from and/or treat this condition.

          You also try to conflate two very different things – individual human beings who might have religious objections to this or that legal and valid medical procedure and corporations which do not.

          In your defense of this “religious freedom” you failed to answer the question posed. Where do we draw the line and who gets to decide? Why should a hospital funded largely by the public be allowed to withhold, say, contraception services on religious grounds but not allowed to withhold, say, a blood transfusion for the same reason? Who says that the Catholic belief is valid and protected under the law but the Jehovah’s Witness belief is not?

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        2. RE: “You continue to fudge the actual issue in this case.”

          I believe my comments have already covered this ground pretty thoroughly, but since you seem to need it, I’ll address the issue specifically in the terms as you have defined them.

          You say the doctor “was being prevented from completing the therapies that he had prescribed and which were already well under way based on the religious belief OF OTHER PEOPLE that it is immoral to be suffering from and/or treat this condition.”

          The “OTHER PEOPLE” in this case were the bishops identified in the linked ACLU source article. I assume the bishops have legitimate proprietary authority over the policies, procedures and operations, including contract performance, of the Catholic hospital where the surgery was to be performed. I am making this assumption explicit to give you the opportunity to argue that the bishops had no such authority. I can’t imagine how you could make such an argument, but have at it, if you wish.

          Apart from that, I find your characterization that the bishops considered it “immoral to be suffering from and/or treat this condition” woefully imprecise There is no evidence the bishops believed any such thing. You are projecting your own assumptions onto their reasoning, which is nowhere explained in detail.

          Still, the bishops’ detailed reasons for finding the medical treatment at issue to be unethical is of no relevance, since other medical professionals have commonly arrived at similar conclusions under both nearly identical circumstances and as a matter of general principle. The secular Johns Hopkins medical department, for example, famously declined to perform “sex re-assignment” surgeries for a number of years specifically because it regarded surgical treatments for the underlying medical condition to be of unproven efficacy. More generally, it is reasonable for any doctor or hospital to decline to perform services they find objectionable for any conscientious reasons of their own. To say otherwise is to say that doctors and hospitals may be compelled to behave in ways that violate their conscience, or that doctors and hospitals shall not be empowered to act on decisions they make conscientiously.

          I do not find that the doctor’s intention to perform the surgery as part of a larger treatment project to be an enforceable term of the doctor’s contract with the hospital to provide a venue and services for the procedure. Merely as a matter of professional competence the doctor must have known that “sex re-assignment” surgery is controversial and that a Catholic hospital especially might find it so. Under these circumstances, there was no agreement in principle between the parties such that a contract existed at all. The hospital was under no obligation to allow the surgery.

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      3. “There are people who are miserable because they genuinely feel trapped in the wrong body because they have two healthy legs . . .”

        The difference between this hypothetical and the real case under discussion is that a medically acceptable treatment for gender dystopia (“transgenderism”) is gender reassignment through hormones and surgery. Removing healthy limbs is NOT a medically acceptable treatment for those wanting it done.

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        1. RE: “The difference between this hypothetical and the real case under discussion is that a medically acceptable treatment for gender dystopia (“transgenderism”) is gender reassignment through hormones and surgery.”

          So you say, but because you are not a doctor your opinion carries little weight. I fear you are creating a “gender dystopia” with your ideas.

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