Civil Right to Government-Provided Sex Change?

Convicted soldier Bradley Manning has announced his real self is as a woman named Chelsea. Ok.

More: His lawyer says this isn’t a private issue, but a public one. He has insisted that the U.S. government provide for Manning’s ”transition” as he does his prison time in Leavenworth. Well, that opened my eyes without having to drink my morning coffee.

More: His lawyer apparently plans to sue to make sure we pay for it. From the CNN story:

Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, told “Today” that he hopes officials at Fort Leavenworth military prison will provide his client the hormone therapy. “I’m hoping Fort Leavenworth would do the right thing and provide that,” Coombs said. “If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I am going to do everything in my power to make sure that they are forced to do so.

Coombs threat to sue is essentially a claim that there is a civil right to become the sex one believes oneself to be, and moreover, that the government must provide that treatment to a prisoner under its authority–just as it would have to pay for cancer treatment or any other necessary “medical” service or procedure.  

I would be shocked if the courts so ruled, but I have been shocked a lot the last few decades.

We are heading in that general direction. The Obamacare birth control mandate was at least partly put into place–according to DOJ legal briefs–to ensure legal equality for women. LGBT advocates could logically make the same claim for required coverage for sex change procedures. San Francisco’s public health insurance already does.

Transsexual rights, if that is the proper term, is moving forward. California just enacted a law requiring public schools to allow children to use bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite sex when they identify with that sex. In other words, one no longer requires a legal ruling reassigning sex. The DOJ took the same position in a lawsuit that was filed by parents upset that a school did not allow their son to use the girl’s bathroom. The case settled in favor of the parents.

Moreover, not fully on point but pertinent to the discussion: A bill has passed the California Legislature requiring group health plans pay for infertility treatments for gays and lesbians in the same way it does heterosexuals. As I wrote in the Weekly Standard, under the terms of California law, such a law would mean that once a gay couple did not conceive after one year of trying, they would be entitled to have the costs of treatment paid, e.g.. artificial insemination, surrogacy potentially, etc.

Once again, this would not be unprecedented. In the UK, lesbians are entitled to free provision of a sophisticated form of artificial insemination under the NHS.

If we keep requiring insurance coverage for “consumerist” as well as “medical” procedures, there is no way we will ever control health care costs.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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