Transgender person sues Catholic hospital in Eureka for refusing hysterectomy

Second lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of a transgender person who was denied a hysterectomy at a Catholic health facility over ethical concerns

St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka, California (image from St. Joseph Health)

A transgender man [biological female] is suing St. Joseph Health of Northern California, alleging that he was refused care at the Roman Catholic health system’s hospital in Eureka because of his gender orientation.

In the lawsuit filed in Humboldt County Superior Court on Thursday, Oliver Knight says he was told just minutes before his scheduled hysterectomy that the hospital would not allow the procedure to happen. He says hospital staff told him that the surgery was called off because he was transgender.

Knight was able to reschedule the hysterectomy — a procedure in which the uterus and cervix are removed — four days later at a hospital a half-hour’s drive away that was not part of the St. Joseph network. But the initial denial caused him severe anxiety and emotional turmoil, Knight’s attorneys say.

The lawsuit claims that St. Joseph was in violation of state law that prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. It asks for unspecific damages. Knight declined to comment on his case.

St. Joseph Health is a nonprofit organization that runs five hospitals in Northern California, including medical centers in Petaluma, Napa and Santa Rosa. It is owned by Providence St. Joseph Health Network, which operates 51 hospitals nationwide.

Knight’s is the second lawsuit filed by the ACLU on behalf of a transgender man who was denied a hysterectomy. The first case, involving a man in Sacramento who sued the Catholic Church-affiliated Dignity Health, was filed two years ago. Dignity Health won that case and it is being appealed. Similar lawsuits have been filed in other parts of the country.

Full story at San Francisco Chronicle.

Story updated with new headline 3/23/19

Comments

  1. Not being a Doctor, I’m uncertain this hypothetical could happen. What would the hospital do if this was a life-threatening situation requiring an ‘unacceptable’ procedure and transport elsewhere was not an option ?

    • Mary Ann A Kreitzer says

      That’s a different case. Suppose someone came to his doctor and asked him to cut off his leg because he felt like an amputee. He’d be sent for psychiatric treatment. The ethics here are removing healthy body parts to accommodate a person’s delusion. That would not be the case if she had a cancerous uterus that required treatment.

      No matter what a man does to his body he will always be a biological male in every cell of his body’s DNA. No matter how hard a woman tries she will always be a biological woman in her DNA. Removing a healthy uterus from a woman so she can feel more like a man is simply body abuse. And suppose she changes her mind and wants to be a woman again. Can she then sue the hospital for performing an…

      • Deacon Craig Anderson says

        Mary Ann makes a good point. If that surgery were medically necessary, a Catholic hospital would not have had an ethical objection. Unfortunately, some are now claiming that sex-reassignment surgery, now called “gender conformity surgery” is “medically necessary.” (Of course, removing or adding body parts does not really change one’s sex.) Lord, have mercy on us all, including those with gender identity disorders.

      • Frank McKnight says

        Your common sense response is wonderful! The more we interfere with natural order, as defined by St. Thomas Aquinas, the more we slide down the slope of dehumanizing behavior.

    • “What would the hospital do if this was a life-threatening situation requiring an ‘unacceptable’ procedure and transport elsewhere was not an option?”
      The two conditions are mutually exclusive. A truly emergent life threatening surgical emergency, by definition, cannot be morally impermissible or ‘unacceptable’. For example, if this same person were to sustain uterine trauma in some kind of incident where she was in danger of bleeding to death, an emergency hysterectomy would be completely permissible.

  2. anonymous says

    If “he” is a man, a four-day delay should not cause “him” “severe anxiety and emotional turmoil.”
    I’m sympathetic to this person’s confusion, but may members of the Church and others with common sense never abandon biological facts, in spite of the opposition of a disorder that has a lobby. Pray for Oliver for healing and that sexual libertinism not once against prevail over religious liberty.

    • Good point. If she wants to be a he, stop snivelling and playing the victim, get the elective procedure at a facility that has no scruples and move on from it. But the problem is that she wants sympathy and attention and to lash out and make others pay a price. While I do care about the plight of the oppressed, I’m starting to see that too much sympathy gives power to childishness and changes the culture.

  3. Men cannot get hysterectomies.

  4. This “man” needs some sex education. If you menstruate, you have a uterus; if you have a uterus, you are a woman.
    Frivolous lawsuit…

  5. This person was not born a ‘man’.

  6. St. Christopher says

    I am assuming that this self-professed “man” is, in fact, a biological woman. Anyone else of this understanding?

    Not sure why the Catholic hospital just looked through this fact and gave “him” the needed procedure. I will bet that there is a bigger story here.

  7. “He” is desperately in need of a Cranial Proctologist.

  8. Brian Saunders says

    Let’s state the facts and tell it as it is. A woman pretending to be a man, goes to a hospital and demands they give her a hysterectomy so she can indulge her fantasy.
    If the woman’s account of what the hospital said is true, I think the hospital handled it badly. They stopped the operation just minutes before it was due to take place saying they couldn’t go ahead because she was transgender. Surely the hospital would have been on safer ground if they had refused the request straight away saying there was no medical justification to carry out the procedure!

    • There was probably objections on the part of someone on the surgical team that would not have known what the hysterectomy was for until right before the procedure. All that would have been known is that there was a hysterectomy scheduled in a room. That the details came out just before is understandable. The surgeon had the responsibility to clear it with everyone from the administration to the room crew. No way of knowing for sure, but it sounds like that didn’t happen and someone rightfully objected.

  9. Brenda Johnston says

    This isnt medically necessary. Transgender surgeries are new to billing, people have to understand this isn’t the everyday norm. Where do we get a code that is medically necessary to bill the insurance for them to pay.

  10. Magdalene P says

    Maybe she was refused a hysterectomy because there was no reason for it as there was no disease. Healthy body parts should not be removed!

  11. “A transgender man [biological female] is suing St. Joseph Health of Northern California, alleging that he was refused care …” “he” was refused “care”??!!? No, she was refused “care” because she did not require this “care”, which was nothing short of mutilation of her own body. She, not “he”, needs real care, but from a psychologist or psychiatrist trained in treating this kind of mental illness. And she is a very sick woman. A hysterectomy does nothing to treat the deeper malaise.

  12. I believe it was Sigmund Freud who said “…biology is destiny.”

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