New guidelines call for Catholic hospitals to limit transgender care

U.S. Catholic bishops issued a guideline March 20 that encourages Catholic hospitals to not offer gender-affirming medical treatments. 

"Catholic healthcare services must not perform interventions, whether surgical or chemical, that aim to transform the sexual characteristics of a human body into those of the opposite sex or take part in the development of such procedures," the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops document reads.

Some in the faith take issue with those guidelines and views. Critics say they will limit patients' access to transgender care, with more than 1 in 7 patients cared for in a Catholic hospital.

In rural areas, Catholic hospitals may be the only option for care. 

"In neglecting the experiences of trans people and in not attending to contemporary science, it harms people instead of healing them," Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which advocates for LGBTQ rights, said March 21. "The bishops' unwillingness to counter any of the evidence from the scientific community or the experience of transgender people is neither good theology nor acceptable pastoral care." 

Sister Mary Haddad, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association of the United States, a separate organization from that issuing the new guidelines, said healthcare providers will continue to respect the dignity of transgender patients and provide them with high-quality care. 

"We remain committed to honoring the human dignity of everyone, including transgender patients and their families, and to providing them with the best possible medical and spiritual care," she said in a March 20 news release.

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