Law & the Courts

Supreme Court Won’t Take Up Case of Catholic Hospital Sued for Refusing to Provide Gender Transition Surgery

The Supreme Court Building in Washington D.C., August 5, 2021 (Brent Buterbaugh/National Review)

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from a Catholic hospital in California Monday that was sued after refusing to provide a hysterectomy for a transgender man.

The High Court did not make any significant judgments on religious liberty and gender identity discrimination matters and instead returned the case to the state court for further litigation dealing with the hospital specifically. Three conservative justices, including Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch, opted to review the case while recent conservative appointee Justice Amy Coney Barrett chose to dismiss it.

The subject of the case was a transgender man, Evan Minton, who was scheduled to receive a hysterectomy at the Catholic Mercy San Juan Medical Center in Sacramento. Upon learning that Minton wanted the hysterectomy in order to transition, a nurse cancelled the appointment, Minton claims. The patient had the surgery at a different hospital three days later but still filed a lawsuit against the Catholic hospital, arguing that its denial of services constituted discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

As a Catholic institution, the hospital refuses to perform abortions and sterilizations. It argued that Minton’s request for a hysterectomy qualified as an “elective sterilization” that conflicted with its religious convictions. Attorneys for the hospital told NBC News that the state law “provides no protection whatsoever to religious health care providers that are compelled to allow procedures that violate their faith.”

Minton, however, represented by the ACLU, told the Supreme Court that the hospital regularly performed hysterectomies on women and only refused this particular one because it involved a gender transition.

A lower court sided with the hospital, arguing that the patient was still able to receive “full and equal access” to healthcare services, although he did have to wait three days. In a subsequent ruling, an appeals court sided with the patient, a decision which the Supreme Court preserved Monday by dismissing the case.

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