Wisconsin Officials Try to Force Catholic Healthcare System to Perform 'Gender-Affirming' Surgeries

AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

Apparently, it is not enough for progressives to use social pressure to browbeat us into accepting their twisted ideas on gender. These people also seek to wield the power of the government to force people and religious organizations into helping to advance their agenda.

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SSM Health, a Catholic healthcare system in Wisconsin, recently discontinued providing “gender-affirming” surgeries because of the system’s Catholic affiliation, according to local news reports. Now, county officials are trying to look at other ways to compel the organization to begin offering these procedures again.

SSM Health has recently stopped providing gender-affirming surgeries at their Aesthetic Center in Middleton, according to a patient and multiple employees.

The move from the Catholic health care system comes after ramped-up pressure this year from the Catholic Church to stop Catholic health care organizations from providing some types of gender-affirming care to transgender people.

The change reportedly went into effect last week but has been in the works for at least a month, according to employees who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for their jobs, and applies to both minors and adults seeking to book surgeries at the clinic.

SSM Health did not provide comment when reached with questions. When a reporter called the clinic this week asking for information about gender-affirming surgeries, she was told that the clinic was not taking new patients and was in the process of discontinuing those procedures because of the organization’s Catholic affiliation.*

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County officials are not happy about this decision, especially since they had passed a measure declaring the city a sanctuary only a month before. They are looking at ways they can strong-arm the organization into offering “gender-affirming care” again:

The Dane County Board of Supervisors said Wednesday evening they are checking for contract violations following the move from SSM Health to stop gender-affirming surgeries.

Twenty-two of the county’s 37 supervisors signed onto the statement, calling SSM Health’s policy change “ill-conceived.”

“The decision from SSM Health to discontinue care that is medically necessary is dangerous to members of the community who continue to face threats and intimidation,” the statement read.

“Health care institutions need to be held accountable to do what is right, and not limit access to care, but expand it.”

The county contracts with Dean Health Plan for county employees’ insurance, which is part of the SSM Health organization.

SMS Health’s decision has predictably sparked criticism:

The top Democrat in the Wisconsin Senate, Minority Leader Melissa Agard, on Monday said she’s worried about what SSM’s decision will mean for transgender people.

“SSM’s decision to stop providing this vital care is misguided and dangerous,” Agard said. “There is no question that gender-affirming care saves lives. I will always stand with the trans community as they continue to face obstacles while simply trying to live as their authentic selves. Being able to live a happy and healthy life should be a basic expectation of everyone living here in our community, and I will continue to speak out against SSM’s decision until all our trans friends and neighbors are able to do just that.”

Madison’s transgender alder, Dina Nina, added her reaction alongside Agard’s.

“As a transgender person, I’m incredibly disheartened that SSM Health would bow at the feet of fear mongers instead of trusting the advice of the American Medical Association. Instead of cowering to a loud minority, they choose to flippantly disregard the needs of their patients,” Nina said.

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This raises a few issues.

Why do members of the Board of Supervisors believe they have the authority to compel SMS Health to offer any type of procedure at all? Given that the company is a Catholic organization, its leadership can decide to cease offering surgical procedures due to conflicts with religious beliefs. The notion that a county’s government would try to pressure the organization into violating these beliefs certainly violates the spirit of the First Amendment, if not the letter of the law.

There are likely plenty of other facilities that offer “gender-affirming care” in the county. Indeed, given that the board of supervisors designated the area as a transgender sanctuary, there are probably quite a few places an individual can go to receive this “treatment.” This is clearly not about safeguarding people’s health. It is about enforcing an agenda.

At a time when individual and religious liberties are already in peril, authoritarian progressives are trying to use the government to force their ways on the rest of us. If we don’t fight back, these people will get their way.

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