Lawmakers opine on hospital’s reported end to gender-affirming care



(The Center Square) – There is predictable reaction at the Wisconsin Capitol to news that one of Madison’s largest hospitals is ending gender-affirming care.

Republicans at the statehouse on Monday cheered the decision, while Democrats raised concerns about the health and lives of transgender people.

In addition to the clinic in Middleton, SSM Health – formerly known as St. Mary’s Hospital – operates hospitals in Madison, Baraboo, Janesville, Waupun, Rippon, Fond du Lac, and Monroe.

It’s not clear if SSM health offered gender-affirming care at any of its other locations, or if any services at those locations will be impacted by the change.

“I applaud SSM Health’s brave decision to remain consistent with their faith values. It is one thing to perform these surgeries on adults, but making such painful and permanent changes to minors is particularly concerning. We are seeing a disturbing uptick in these surgeries that suggest social influences,“ Rep. Barb Dittrich, R-Oconomowoc, said in a statement.

SSM Health has not yet formally announced its decision to end gender-affirming care for both children and adults, nor has the hospital offered any explanation.

But a Madison TV station reported over the weekend that the hospital is ending surgeries at its Aesthetic Center in Middleton because of pressure from the Catholic Church to have Catholic Hospitals end certain types of gender-affirming care.

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.

Madison’s diocese is also not commenting on SSM’s decision. The church decided back in March to oppose gender-affirming care at Catholic hospitals across the country.

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