Profile in Courage: Catholic Hospital Stands Up to Transgender Pressure

By Rachel Alexander Published on February 16, 2017

In January, Jionni Conforti sued St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey, because in 2015 the hospital would not remove her uterus. Conforti, 33, identifies as “transgender” and wanted the surgery as part of trying to become a male. She had already had a double mastectomy. In June 2016, the Catholic hospital refused.

Conforti v St. Joseph’s

Conforti had the hysterectomy performed at another hospital, but still sued. She is asking the court to force the hospital to perform sex-change or “gender-reassignment” operations in the future and award her damages.

Her legal counsel, the homosexual organization Lambda Legal, argues that the hospital refused to perform “routine surgery” that was “medically necessary treatment for his gender dysphoria.” The refusal was “dangerous and humiliating” and violated both New Jersey law and the Affordable Care Act. Lambda Legal also claims the surgery was needed to reduce the risk of cancer from the hormonal treatment she was receiving, although the suit doesn’t mention this.

The hospital responded to the suit this past week, asserting that “the court system shouldn’t be able to interpret ethical and religious directives from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops followed by the hospital.” The directives instructs a hospital not to perform medical procedures it finds “morally wrong.” The hospital asserts that the First Amendment right to freedom of religion protects its  freedom of conscience. To force it to provide the procedure would “contravene Defendants’ sincerely held religious belief.”

Conforti’s lawsuit was filed several days after a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked federal regulations that apply anti-discrimination laws to transgender patients. St. Joseph’s operates hospitals in Texas, and believes the injunction affects Conforti’s lawsuit.

Conforti’s Important Questions

The suit raises several important questions about religious health care. For example, how does a Catholic hospital treat someone whose choices it can’t affirm? Conforti’s lawsuit asserts that St. Joseph’s patient bill of rights says it guarantees medical services without discrimination based on “gender identity or expression.”

This is an incorrect interpretation, argues Marshall Connolly of Catholic Online. “Conforti deserves love, care and compassion, but this does not mean that Catholic teaching can change, or that a Catholic institution should be compelled to participate in a procedure which is contrary to the Church’s teaching and the Natural Law.”

A second question is how much freedom a religious hospital has when it disagrees with the wider society’s belief, and the wider society’s belief has been enshrined in the law. A lawyer for The Alliance Defending Freedom told Catholic News Services, “Our nation has long provided broad exemptions for organizations like this — for example, protecting them against being compelled to perform abortions.” Matt Sharp explained: “Those same protections should extend to organizations that decline to be part of the procedures like the one sought here — procedures that not only raise religious concerns, but that many doctors and psychiatrists also believe pose serious long-term risks to the patients.”

A third question is why transgender operations warrant such a high priority that the state believes it must require religious institutions to comply? Transgender activists are successfully forcing insurance companies to pay for these operations, while hundreds of other types of important operations go uncovered.

As Sharp observed, by including “gender identify” in non-discrimination laws, the laws “have been repeatedly used to target religious organizations and threaten them with costly fines, and even jail time, if they don’t forfeit their religious freedom and disavow their beliefs about the immutability of sex.”

The Bigger Fight

The suit against St. Joseph’s is part of a bigger fight to normalize transgenderism. That fight is also being fought in federal agencies, state legislatures and federal courts with attempts to rule that transgendered people may use the restroom or shower facility of their chosen gender, not their physical sex. It’s being fought out in the wider society, with groups like the NBA and NFL threatening to punish states that pass “bathroom bills.”

Where will this end? If someone thinks they’re an NBA player, should they sue a hospital for refusing to pump them with growth hormones and skeletal extension surgery? What other types of procedures will be forced on Catholic hospitals? How much will the religious liberty the Constitution guarantees be rejected when it conflicts with popular causes?

Forcing religious hospitals to provide costly gender reassignment surgery opens a Pandora’s Box that would be better left closed.

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  • Dean Bruckner

    Like jihad, there is no end to the agenda of the sexual revolution. They will never let us be; they have left us no other option. Even while we show them kindness and compassion, this illegitimate effect on culture and public policy must be faced down and dismantled.

  • Autrey Windle

    Maybe Conforti should read Matthew 13 once or a hundred times and then maybe someone should give casting out the demons a shot… otherwise, the poor thing will at least know what’s coming with the screaming and gnashing of teeth and such.

  • faithful

    I pray the Lord will Bless and affirm St. Joseph’s decision because it is right in His sight! Do all you can do to STAND, then STAND.

  • Increasing everyone’s premiums by enabling, rather than treating, serious mental afflictions is one more reason why the health insurance business must be aggressively deregulated. Repealing/replacing Obamacare is not even remotely sufficient.

    First to go must be all the absurd benefit-coverage mandates, which the big insurers now happily accept in order to quash competition and the cost of which they pass along to consumers, driving up the price of healthcare.

    Healthcare, and public hygiene itself, is currently held hostage by ‘progressive’ insanity.

    • CylonesRUS

      I am thinking of entering the race against a Rhino; I would like to use your platform. Deregulation of health care. The big insurance companies are as intrusive as the government and another reason good doctors are leaving and many future potential doctors who have the aptitude will not enter into the profession.

  • CylonesRUS

    It is only popular in the eyes of decadent people, the same tpe of people who perished in the Flood and in Sodom and Gomorrah .

  • Constitution Lover

    The treatment of gender dyspepsia, which is a psychiatric diagnosis, is therapy and possibly medication. Surgery is not medically necessary. That’s ridiculous. It’s not a physical problem. It’s a mind problem. Your body requires surgery only if it’s not working correctly as it’s designed to work. Being born a woman, but wanting to be a man doesn’t mean your body is ill. It means your brain is ill.

    • M. N.

      Ok, I giggled at the dyspepsia, did you mean dysmorphia or were you making a funny? I agree with you 100% otherwise, the subject gives me dyspepsia

  • Ray

    If the hospital would have removed her uterus, they would have abused her, violating the oath of the medical field. Don’t we know that? Everyone should at least know that. What has happened to America?

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