The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently proposed a rule that would allow medical professionals to opt out of performing procedures that may violate their consciences.
In response, the Human Rights Campaign’s legal director, Sarah Warbelow, stated, “Every American deserves access to medically necessary health care, and that health care should not be determined by the personal opinions of individual health care providers or administrative staff.”
The Left has long attempted to coerce people into their beliefs about sexuality by repeating the claim that sex-change treatments are “medically necessary.” By asserting elective medical options are “necessary” and nesting them in the generalized notion of “health care,” the Left effectively marginalizes any criticism. Repeating this theme with indignant passion and assumed authority removes responsibility from the Left to justify their arguments.
The Left wishes the general public to view all aspects of transgender medical options as positive and healthy. Unable to convince the public through open discourse, the Left has chosen to simply overwhelm opposition using emotionally powerful phrases and outrage.
The Question Is Whether a Sex-Change Is Elective
The issue is complicated. On the one hand, it seems reasonable that a medical professional who morally opposes certain elective medical procedures should be free to refuse to perform them. On the other hand, it is unnerving to imagine being denied necessary medical treatment based solely on the personal choice of your physician.
It comes down to an issue of semantics. The Left strongly opposes referring to sex-reassignment surgery as “elective” and insists on placing it in the same category as heart surgery. In doing so they intercept any argument of personal conscience. However, if understood as elective, it becomes much easier to advocate for personal choice in the matter.
The language from the LGBT Left is clear: if President Trump is allowed to impose this new rule, doctors across the country will begin freely denying LGBT people access to health care they need. This concept exploits fears about the Trump administration. The Left has assigned the phrase “anti-LGBT” to the rule change, as they have imposed onto every religious freedom bill proposed in recent years. Back in 2014, the Huffington Post wrote of an Arizona religious freedom measure, “pharmacists could refuse HIV and hormone replacement therapy drugs.”
In truth, the rule is largely designed to protect medical doctors who oppose abortion, religious organizations opposed to birth control, and medical professionals opposed to a wide range of transgender procedures. The transgender procedures in question fall into the realm of surgeries, hormone treatments, and transitioning children.
The Presented Dangers Are Highly Unlikely to Materialize
Framing this as “medically necessary treatment for LGBT people” presents it as something profoundly affecting all gay and transgender Americans. Oddly, the LGBT Left often refers to LGBT health care as though gays, in particular, frequently require specialized medical treatment. In truth specialized treatment for LGBT falls exclusively in two categories: HIV/AIDS care, and transgender procedures. Both areas are generally staffed by specialists, so it is unclear why any other kind of doctor would encounter either issue.
If a person wishes to undergo surgical transition, he or she would not go into a family doctor’s office and request it. He or she would seek out a doctor who specializes in the surgery. Logically, if a doctor has trained to perform sex-reassignment surgeries, he or she has no moral or ethical objections to them. Thus the likelihood of a trans person being denied transgender surgery based on a doctor’s conscientious objection is essentially zero.
The issue comes down to possibility and paranoia. What if a transgender person goes to his family doctor to request a referral to a surgeon, and his doctor refuses based on moral grounds? What if an HIV-positive gay man seeks medical treatment but is turned away because a doctor believes his lifestyle is sinful?
Ironically, demands LGBT people be provided any medical procedures they wish from any doctor rely on irrational thinking about hypothetical situations. It is simply unreasonable to expect any medically trained professional, anywhere in the country, to turn away a person seeking medical care for any reason, let alone for being LGBT. Further, since transgender treatments are highly specialized, it is equally unreasonable for a person interested in them to expect widely available access as well. This is a preference of the progressive Left that seeks to normalize transgenderism and believes all doctors should agree with them.
A Desire to Ban Dissenters from Medicine
In the same way, simply because LGBT advocacy groups believe transition should be easily obtainable, paid by insurance or taxpayers, and widely available, individuals do not have a right to demand any services from any doctor, just like they can’t go into an auto parts store and demand to be sold something that store does not carry.
So why is it necessary to specifically protect doctors who do not wish to perform these services for religious or personal reasons? If transgender activists were content to work with doctors who supported their identity and cosmetic preferences, there would be no issue. But because this group demands absolute, universal service from all medical providers under threat of legal action, protections suddenly become relevant and necessary.
There are no “anti-LGBT” medical practices, just as there is no “license to discriminate.” Medical professionals have no desire to turn away gay or transgender patients for routine medical issues. But many do have a profound opposition to participating in any action that may contribute to what they believe will harm the patient.
The American College of Pediatricians, for example, has stated concerns about stalling puberty or introducing cross-gender hormones in children. Michelle Cretella, M.D., president of the American College of Pediatricians stated, “Last summer, the federal government stated that it would not require Medicare and Medicaid to cover transition-affirming procedures for children or adults because medical experts at the Department of Health and Human Services found the risks were often too high, and the benefits too unclear.”
A Refusal to Accept Professional Disagreements
Transgender therapy was, at one time, entirely dependent on the personal preferences of the doctor involved. Often multiple psychiatric authorities were required to approve surgical options before a doctor would perform them. This process to ensure a person’s mental well-being with full understanding of their decision offends the LGBT movement. They wish for an individual to be recognized by whatever identity he or she presents, without question.
The concern is not about denying a service to an individual based on gender identity, it is an issue of requiring a medical professional to take an action and hold responsibility for something he deeply and morally opposes. What is required of a medical professional for a sex change can hold significant ethical and moral considerations. By threatening the universal requirement of providing specific, controversial services the Left directly threatens medical professionals’ freedom.
Often the necessary response to a progressive social crusade is aggressive constitutional protections for those most vulnerable to their attacks. We have always taken for granted that people will respect the choices of others and simply seek alternatives if necessary. Sadly, we can no longer rely on such open-minded tolerance. So, since one purpose of the federal government is to protect citizens’ constitutional rights, including religious and conscience rights, this seems a situation where that protection is needed.