Catholic hospital to allow transgender surgery after being sued

Seton Medical Center in Daly City, CA
Seton Medical Center in Daly City, CA

.- A Catholic hospital that refused to allow its facilities to be used for breast implant surgery on a man that had undergone a sex-change operation will now allow the procedure, the California Catholic Daily reports.

In 2006 a doctor told Charlene Hastings, 57, that Seton Medical Center in Daly City would not allow him to perform breast-enhancement surgery on a transsexual.  Hastings claimed that upon further inquiry a surgical coordinator at the hospital said to him, “It’s not God’s will” and “God made you a man.”

A 2006 memo sent by Seton Medical Center to physicians said, “transgender procedures or procedures that are part of the transgendering process may not be performed at Seton, as Seton is a Catholic Hospital.”

Hastings filed suit against the hospital in San Francisco Superior Court in December.  The suit alleged that Seton violated state law, which allows religiously-based hospitals to refuse to perform abortions but makes no exemption for denying elective surgery for transgender operations.

On February 27 the San Francisco television station CBS 5 News reported that the hospital had issued a written statement to CBS 5 that said, “We regret any confusion that may have come from this situation. We want this patient and her physician to know that they are welcome at Seton Medical Center.” 

The hospital still said that Catholic teaching prohibits the accommodation of sex-change operations.

The CBS 5 News station characterized the statement as a “veiled apology.”  It said, “transgender Charlene Hastings has claimed moral victory against Catholics.” 

According to the California Catholic Daily, Hasting’s attorney, Chris Dolan, said that a lawsuit seeking monetary damages would proceed.

“Like any good religious experience, first you need enlightenment and then you need atonement,” said Dolan. “And what we have here perhaps is a glimpse of enlightenment. Has it changed their heart? I don’t think so. Will it change their practice? It better.”

Hastings will not undergo surgery at Seton, saying he would not be comfortable because he would feel the hospital would be “doing it under duress.”

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