The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog. Check it out too.
Should a murderer in prison for life be entitled to an elective surgical procedure at taxpayers’ expense? Fifty state legislators have asked the state Department of Corrections to appeal Judge Mark Wolf’s decision that the Commonwealth should have to pay for incarcerated murderer Michelle (formerly Robert) Kosilek’s sex change operation. $50,000 or more for a procedure that no insurer or third party payer will fund for any individual inside prison or out? Stupefying! Media and taxpayers like are responding with outrage.
Wolf’s rationale is that the anguish Kosilek experiences from being a transgender amounts to “cruel and unusual punishment,” as barred by the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution. Globe columnnist Yvonne Abraham is the only writer I’ve found who says he made the right decision. Attorney Wendy Murphy notes that, “They can’t vote, bear arms, march in protests, etc., although like anyone in state custody, they are entitled to “necessary” medical care, but not the care of their choice.”
This man strangled his wife, Cheryl, ten years ago and has been dealing with the transgender issue all that time. (Mark Wolf has been dealing with the case for a decade.) He apparently has tried both to castrate himself and commit suicide. Gender identity disorder is a recognized mental health problem. But the state has already included in his/her medical care the provision of hormone treatment therapy, along with counselling.
What’s next? A patient demanding a nose job for “a deviated septum” which is depressing him? A breast enhancement because diminished self image is causing mental anguish? What about the other mental disorders that patients suffer from? Couldn’t we argue that most inmates suffer from mental disorders? Should taxpayers pay for every patient’s every medical wish? Gender reassignment surgery is not indicated in all transgender situations. Other transgenders have to stop at hormone and psychotherapy because they can’t afford the costly sex reassignment surgery. Should a murderer be entitled to more than they? Prisoners often try to con the system, sometimes to the point of self-mutilation to get their way. Do we really want to encourage such absurdities?
Massachusetts can take pride in many of the “firsts” that happened here. Judge Wolf’s decision in this case is, by contrast, a cause for embarrassment.
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