Bishops Take Step Toward Blocking Transgender Procedures in Catholic Hospitals
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Catholic hospitals in the U.S. could begin banning gender-transition surgery and puberty-blocking hormones after the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted Friday to revise its previous guidance for Catholic healthcare institutions.
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports that life-altering procedures for gender-confused people have been deemed incompatible with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on sex and the dignity of the human person. The conference's Committee on Doctrine will begin revising the church's Ethical and Religious Directives (ERDs) that express the "authoritative guidance on certain moral issues that face Catholic health care today."
The bishops' vote came during the USCCB's spring meeting in Orlando, Florida. It passed via voice vote, with no audible dissenters or abstentions, according to the Religion News Service (RNS).
The move will affect a large portion of American healthcare facilities. According to the Catholic Health Association (CHA), there are more than 600 hospitals and 1,600 long-term care and other health facilities in all 50 states. The Catholic health ministry is the largest group of nonprofit healthcare providers in the nation.
Every day, more than one in seven patients in the U.S. is cared for in a Catholic hospital, according to the CHA website.
Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas, who also chairs the Committee on Doctrine, noted that the professional-patient relationship portion, which will be updated, had not been revised since 1994, according to the CNA.
"At that time, it was not envisioned that it might be necessary to include specific guidance concerning radical modifications to the human body, such as are widely advocated in practice today for the treatment of those suffering from gender dysphoria," Flores said.
According to the CNA, in March the Committee on Doctrine released a statement titled Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body. The statement asserted "the search for solutions to problems of human suffering must continue, but it should be directed toward solutions that truly promote the flourishing of the human person in his or her bodily integrity. As new treatments are developed, they too should be evaluated according to sound moral principles grounded in the good of the human person as a subject with his or her own integrity."
Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, said there was "a lack of clarity between what is authentic gender dysphoria and then also the gender ideology" that is "preying upon people" and "increasing their suffering," the outlet reported.
Olson added that he hoped the revision process would "bring greater clarity between these two phenomena of gender dysphoria and also gender ideology so that hopefully we can write a broader pastoral document after the completion of the ERDs."
Several other Catholic leaders also encouraged the committee to seek input from doctors, the medical community, and transgender people as they revise the ERDs.
Catholics for Choice, an activist group that supports abortion, condemned the bishops' vote. Jamie Manson, the group's president, said in a statement that the decision "attacks the basic human rights of some of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in society."
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