I’m a strong supporter of gay rights. I have no problem with them getting married, adopting and all-in-all getting a fair deal in our society. However I’ve gone over the Constitution and haven’t found the right for a transsexual to get breasts at a Catholic hospital. Seton Medical Center in Daly City, California has refused to allow the surgery to take place in its facilities. Although the hospital itself is refusing to comment, “system spokeswoman Elizabeth Nikels said in a written statement that the organization follows hospital policy according to Catholic teaching: ‘Vincentian and Catholic values form the basis of our identity and set the parameters for our ethics and standards of behavior in health care… 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.””
“I felt simply less than equal,” (Charlene Hastings) said. “Here I am, a woman. I had the reassignment surgery, and not to allow me this right, I felt violated.”
She is suing for money, claiming she suffered “shock, embarrassment, intimidation, physical distress and injury, humiliation, fear, stress and other damages.”
The basis for Hastings’ complaint rests on the Unruh Civil Rights Act of California. The act states:
All persons within the jurisdiction of this state are free and
equal, and no matter what their sex, race, color, religion,
ancestry, national origin, disability, or medical condition are
entitled to the full and equal accommodations, advantages
facilities, privileges, or services in all business establishments
of every kind whatsoever. Civil Code section 51(b)
The question then becomes: Would Unruh force Catholic hospitals to perform sterilization and/or abortion procedures on women when they are against Catholic teachings? I suspect that this would not. However what muddies the issue is the fact that I would suspect the hospital does breast augmentation surgery on women.
Therefore, if the hospital performs breast augmentation jobs on women, shouldn’t Hastings be allowed to have the procedure? I suppose it depends on whether Hastings is legally considered to be a woman or a man. If the Law considers Hastings a man, then the position of the hospital would be better than if she were legally a woman. This is no doubt complicated by the fact that her gender may differ depending on state or federal jurisdiction.
Then again to force the hospital to perform a procedure that goes against Church teachings is a direct infringement on religious freedom. If you are married in a Catholic church and then divorce, you can’t sue a Catholic church to perform your second marriage.
There are other institutions willing to perform the procedure but Hastings evidently feels that she wants to be a martyr. Personally I think there are better axes that need to be ground than bullying a religion, but I doubt she agrees.
Either way I suppose this case will probably have to be decided at a higher level.
Here’s what a California Catholic publication says about the secular vs religious divide on this issue:
The problem, however, is that we are not academics discussing theses at a serene remove from the workaday world. Our differing faiths are not mere hobbies. The secularist, the various theistic, and more particularly, the Christian religions are not, finally, avenues of personal fulfillment, to be relegated to the sanctuary of the heart. They demand a public conformance with what they propose, for they propose what each is convinced is the truth that brings social as well as personal fulfillment. Perhaps this is why our conversations so often break down into shouting matches across the abyss, as if we were so many warriors vaunting their cause. For that is, really, what we are. Secularists and theists are not engaged in a sharing of interesting though irrelevant ideas, but a war for the minds and hearts of mankind.