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Catholic hospital being sued by ACLU for refusing to perform transition surgery

Evan Minton, a woman who wishes to be a man, is seeking damages against a Catholic hospital that refused to perform the surgery on religious grounds. (Image: Sacramento Bee video)

Dignity Health’s Mercy San Juan Medical Center, a private Catholic hospital in Sacramento, California, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit brought on by the American Civil Liberties Union  after the hospital refused to perform a sex transition surgery in August.

According to the suit, Evan Michael Minton, a 35-year-old woman who wishes to be a man, wanted to have an elective surgery done on her that would have her vagina removed. The suit says that Minton was denied the hysterectomy because, as Minton claims, the hospital was discriminatory due to his lifestyle.

"We feel very clearly that they discriminated against me because I’m transgender, and that is against the law," Minton said.

“It devastated me, and I don’t want it to affect my transgender brothers and sisters the way it affected me,” Minton told the Sacramento Bee. “No one should have to go through that.”

Sacramento defense attorney Johnny Griffin believes that Minton has a case against the hospital, and is seeking $4,000 in damages.

“It kind of goes back to the whole 'separate but equal' years ago, where it was OK to discriminate, but as long as you provide something that was equally balanced,"  Griffin said. "So, this is why this is an area of the law that needs to be settled by the courts."

“We have not been served with the complaint and cannot speak to the allegations until we have the opportunity to review them,” Dignity Health Mercy San Juan officials said in a statement. “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."

The hospital said that it could not perform the transition surgery " in accordance with the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services and the medical staff bylaws."

This case should be similar to the Burwell v Hobby Lobby case, where it was ruled by the Supreme Court that a private business with religious beliefs cannot be forced to act against those beliefs by the government. The question for this lawsuit will be whether a private hospital with religious beliefs can refuse to perform procedures that would go against those beliefs.


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