Transgender man sues Catholic hospital for refusing surgery to remove uterus

A transgender man from Totowa, New Jersey has sued a Catholic hospital for refusing to allow a surgeon to perform a previously approved operation to remove his uterus.

(REUTERS / Lucy Nicholson)Doctors perform a single-site robotic-assisted hysterectomy at miVIP Surgery Center, in Los Angeles, California April 23, 2014.

On Thursday, 33-year-old transgender Jionni Conforti filed a federal lawsuit against St. Joseph's Healthcare System over its alleged violation of anti-discrimination laws. According to the lawsuit, staff at the St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center, which is under SJHS, had already given him the go signal for the hysterectomy in 2015 but a hospital administrator took back the approval, NJ.com details.

The hospital administrator sent Conforti an email explaining that "as a Catholic Hospital we would not be able to allow your surgeon to schedule this surgery." In the lawsuit, he said he is not trying to set a precedent by scheduling his hysterectomy at a Catholic hospital and added that he has been going to St. Joseph's hospitals in Paterson and Wayne all his life because he feels comfortable there.

In addition, the lawsuit said the hospital told the surgeon that the hysterectomy would not be allowed because its purpose was "gender reassignment." Conforti said the removal of his uterus was medically necessary to complete his gender transition, The Associated Press relays.

Conforti, who said he felt betrayed and depressed after the Catholic hospital refused to allow his surgeon to perform the hysterectomy, scheduled the procedure at a different facility three months later. Still, he is seeking monetary damages and changes to SJHS' policies, citing its alleged violation of federal and state anti-discrimination laws.

It is worth noting that the lawsuit was filed days after a Texas judge temporarily blocked the application of anti-discrimination laws to cases concerning transgender patients. Catholic League and other similar groups contend that the new rules would force religiously-affiliated facilities to perform procedures that might run against their beliefs.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue released a statement describing Conforti's lawsuit as an attack on religious liberty. He also said the issue is all about a Catholic hospital's right to be Catholic.

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