FILE – This Jan. 25, 2012, file photo, shows the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington. The Supreme Court enters its final week of work before a long summer hiatus with action expected on the Trump administration’s travel ban and a decision due in a separation of church and state case that arises from a Missouri church playground. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Another stupid ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Idaho inmate Adree Edmo, a convicted sex offender, wishes to undergo gender reassignment surgery to alleviate his “gender dysphoria, a condition that causes distress in patients whose biological sex does not match the gender by which they identify. The inmate, who was born a male but identifies as female, tried to castrate herself twice in prison.”
Lori Rifkin, Edmo’s attorney said her client “suffers every single day while they have denied this treatment to her for years and there can be no reason justifying Idaho’s continued refusal to provide her care except bias.”
The cost of this surgery ranges from $20,000 to $30,000 and the state has refused to provide the funding. Edmo is “serving a 10-year sentence for sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy at the age of 22.”
A U.S. District Court ruled last December that the state must pay for this surgery. According to the Boise Weekly, “U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill wrote that all Americans should have access to the rule of law, regardless of their race, sex, economic status or, “as in this case, transgender.”
Idaho Governor Brad Little, a Republican, chose to appeal that decision.
On Friday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of Idaho must pay for gender reassignment surgery.
In upholding the decision of the lower court, a three-judge panel, cited the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution’s “protection against cruel and unusual punishment.”
The appellate court wrote in its decision:
The record shows that the medically necessary treatment for a prisoner’s gender dysphoria is gender confirmation surgery. Prison authorities have not provided that treatment despite full knowledge of Edmo’s ongoing and extreme suffering and medical needs…and responsible prison officials were deliberately indifferent to Edmo’s gender dysphoria, in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
The state’s unwillingness to fund this elective surgery for a prison inmate constitutes cruel and unusual punishment? What a brave, new world we live in.
After hearing Friday’s ruling, Gov. Little, a Republican, expressed his disappointment and said he fully intends to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court. The state has 90 days in which to do so.
He issued the following statement:
The court’s decision is extremely disappointing. The hardworking taxpayers of Idaho should not be forced to pay for a convicted sex offender’s gender reassignment surgery when it is contrary to the medical opinions of the treating physician and multiple mental health professionals. I intend to appeal this decision to the U.S Supreme Court. We cannot divert critical public dollars away from the higher priorities of keeping the public safe and rehabilitating offenders.
This is just a bridge too far for me. The taxpayers of Idaho should not have to fund gender reassignment surgery for any of its residents, let alone that of a convicted sex offender. Hearing about cases like this make me wonder how America even got here.
If this is such an essential goal for Edmo, he or she will be released from prison in February 2021 and at that point can get a job to pay for this elective surgery.
If the state of Idaho decides not to appeal the 9th circuit’s decision or fails in their appeal to the Supreme Court, they will be required to arrange for and to pay for the surgery. According to NPR, Edmo would then “be reassigned to a women’s prison as per Idaho Department of Correction policy.”