A federal judge has ruled that a Maryland Catholic hospital discriminated against a transgender man. The faith-based institution had canceled a hysterectomy on the biological woman, citing that completing the procedure violates their religious and ethical guidelines.
In a 57-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Deborah Chasanow ruled Friday that the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center's refusal to complete the gender-change surgery was "discriminatory" under the Affordable Care Act.
In January 2020, Jesse Hammons was scheduled to have a hysterectomy as part of a physician's recommendation to treat gender dysphoria.
But St. Joseph Medical Center canceled the surgery a week before it was to take place with the hospital's chief medical officer telling the surgeon it "cannot do transgender surgery at St. Joseph", CBS reports.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit on behalf of Hammons.
St. Joseph Medical Center used to be a Catholic-owned hospital before it was acquired by the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMS) in 2012.
Although the center is technically a state hospital, under the acquisition UMMS agreed to let St. Joseph continue operating as a Catholic hospital, meaning it would follow the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a set of guidelines developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The center is barred from offering sterilization procedures as part of those guidelines.
Chasanow ruled that because it is now a state-run facility, it must treat all patients equally.
"This court has determined that undisputed facts establish that, as a matter of law, Defendants discriminated against (Hammons) on the basis of his sex," Chasanow wrote.
"This policy, and the reasoning behind it, implicates sex stereotyping in that it prohibits treatment that facilitates patients' physical nonconformity to their sex assigned at birth," she continued.
In an emailed statement to CBN News, Michael Schwartzberg, senior director of Media Relations for UMMS said they dispute many of the judge's conclusions.
"The University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center and the University of Maryland Medical System are carefully reviewing the decision from Judge Chasanow. We dispute many of the conclusions that were reached in this decision and may be in a position to comment further after additional analysis of the ruling. Legal disagreements aside, we sincerely wish the very best for Mr. Hammons and we support his efforts to seek the highest quality healthcare," Schwartzberg said.
"We may disagree on certain technical, legal points but compassion for the patients we serve remains foundational to our work," the statement continued. "This legal claim stems directly from, and is traceable to, a surgeon mistakenly scheduling a procedure that could not be performed at UM SJMC. Although our offer to perform gender-affirming surgery at a different location was declined by Mr. Hammons, the University of Maryland Medical System remains committed to meeting the unique medical needs of transgender individuals and patients who are routinely scheduled by physicians for appointments and procedures at UMMS member organizations."
Hammons did have a hysterectomy at a different hospital in 2020.
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