HomeHealth Care NewsHospital That Refused Transgender Surgery Loses in Court

Hospital That Refused Transgender Surgery Loses in Court

Religious freedom at the forefront of transgender surgery refusal.

A federal court ruled against a hospital that denied an elective hysterectomy on religious grounds.

U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow decided the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS) violated Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which prohibits discrimination in health care based on sex, by refusing to remove Jesse Hammons’ uterus, in the case of Hammons v. UMMS, on January 6.

Ethical Directives Ban Sterilization

Jesse Hammons, who was born female, wants to transition into a man, but St. Joseph Medical Center, in Towson, Maryland, which is operated by the UMMS, denied the surgery.

UMMS merged with St. Joseph Medical Center in 2012. The deal included a provision that allowed St. Joseph to continue following a protocol known as the “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.”

The Directives state, “Direct sterilization of either men or women, whether permanent or temporary, is not permitted in a Catholic health care institution. Procedures that induce sterility are permitted when their direct effect is the cure or alleviation of a present and serious pathology and a simpler treatment is not available.”

‘A Dangerous Principle’

Hammons shows the problematic nature of mergers and contractual agreements between religious and secular hospital systems, and the more troubling issue of religious freedom under Section 1557, says Jon Scruggs, a senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, a public interest law firm that is not involved in the case.

“The 1557 rule applies, effectively, to any private medical institution that accepts insurance, like Medicare and Medicaid,” said Scruggs. “It requires medical groups to provide these dangerous procedures in violation of their conscience. That is a dangerous principle. It applies to both medical judgment and religious grounds.”

UMMS is reportedly considering its legal options but had not appealed Chasanow’s decision as of press time.

‘Lawsuits through the Roof’

Scruggs says the controversy involving men competing in women’s sports is tied to this medical issue.

“Section 1557 relies on Title IX, which says you can’t discriminate on the basis of sex,” said Scruggs. “This same understanding is also compelling doctors to provide these dangerous procedures. This is an element of this that is going under-reported.”

The comment period for a final rule proposed by the Biden administration for its interpretation of Section 1557 closes on March 6, says Tommy Valentine, national field director with Catholic Vote, which opposes the new rule.

“If this rule is finalized, there are going to be lawsuits through the roof,” said Valentine.

AnneMarie Schieber (amschieber@heartland.org) is the managing editor of Health Care News.


Internet Info:

U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow, Jesse Hammons v. University of Maryland Medical System Corporation, et al., Memorandum Opinion, January 6, 2023:



AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber
AnneMarie Schieber is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and managing editor of Health Care News, Heartland's monthly newspaper for health care reform.


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