On March 30, a major Harvard-affiliated hospital in Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), expelled a well-respected urologist from its medical staff because he voiced concerns about the unhealthy nature of homosexual behavior and objected to the hospital’s aggressive promotion of “gay pride” activities.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a sprawling hospital complex in Boston.
People trust the medical profession to protect them – on both the personal and public health levels. But in recent years, a nightmare has taken hold. Now, a medical doctor is being expelled from his hospital for telling the politically-incorrect truth about a serious medical issue. What you are about to read is truly Orwellian.
Dr. Paul Church has been a urologist on the BIDMC staff in Boston for nearly 30 years. He is a member of the Harvard Medical School faculty. He has done research on diagnosing prostate and bladder cancer, and has been a frequent volunteer for medical mission projects in Mexico and Africa. He has also spoken before educational and civic groups on the subject of high-risk sexual behaviors.
Voicing serious medical (and moral) concerns
Over a decade ago, Dr. Church became concerned about the hospital’s aggressive promotion of and involvement in LGBT activities — including Boston’s annual “Gay Pride Week” – and its emphatic push for staff participation in them. He felt compelled to speak out.
Through emails to hospital officials and later posting on the hospital’s Intranet system, Dr. Church cited irrefutable medical evidence that high-risk sexual practices common to the LGBT community lead to (among other things) a higher incidence of HIV/AIDS, STD’s, hepatitis, parasitic infections, anal cancers, and psychiatric disorders.
Promoting such behavior, he said, is contrary to the higher mission of the healthcare facility to protect the public welfare and encourage healthy lifestyles. Dr. Church also reminded the administration that its staff and employees represent a diversity of moral and religious views, and many believe that homosexuality is unnatural and immoral.
Response by the hospital: Attempts to silence and censor Dr. Church
The hospital did not at any time dispute the truth of his medical statements, nor did they address his other concerns.
They did not claim that Dr. Church ever discussed this with patients, or treated patients any differently if they were involved with these behaviors.
Instead Dr. Church was met with increasingly harsh efforts by the hospital administration to silence and censor him. They told him that his admonitions about homosexual behavior constituted “discrimination and harassment,” were “offensive to BIDMC staff,” and could not be tolerated.
In July 2011, he was called into the Chief of Surgery’s office and told he should consider resigning or else he would face an investigation. He refused to resign. So a few months later a formal “Peer Review Committee” of BIDMC staff physicians was called together to “assess” his “conduct.” He again presented them with the medical facts, which they did not dispute, but ignored. The committee instead sent him a “letter of reprimand” ordering, “You shall have no communications [in any manner, to anyone in the hospital] concerning your opinion about sexual orientation, homosexuality, or other protected status.”
It was an unusual order – that a physician be banned from discussing critical medical facts relating to his expertise, that could affect the health of people the hospital serves.
Dr. Church subsequently requested that the hospital not send any more promotions about LGBT activities to his email or hospital web connection. The hospital refused that request and continued sending them to him. (They rejected the idea that these communications constituted a religious-based harassment of Dr. Church, or the possibility that such a “gag order” was illegal.)
As the emails and postings sent to Dr. Church by the hospital grew more frequent — as BIDMC’s LGBT activities expanded — he again voiced his concerns via a brief posted comment on one occasion in 2013 and twice in 2014.
Dr. Church is expelled from the staff
The hospital reacted with vehemence. In September 2014 a special “Investigating Committee” was assembled to investigate him. “Charges” were brought against him.
But also, over the next few months the Investigating Committee and BIDMC’s president received an outpouring of letters from colleagues, ethicists, public health experts, and others supporting Dr. Church and his advocacy for healthy behaviors. But the committee was not moved by the concerns of Dr. Church or those who wrote letters on his behalf.
In January 2015 the Investigating Committee submitted its findings to the hospital’s highest body and most prominent group, the 25-member Medical Executive Committee, which then met in February to decide on Dr. Church’s fate. At the meeting they allowed Dr. Church to read a statement defending himself.
On March 30, 2015, the Medical Executive Committee announced its decision. Dr. Church was informed that because of his “unsolicited views about homosexuality that were offensive to BIDMC Staff,” he was being terminated from the hospital staff. Further, he was told that that his statements on the subject of homosexuality were “inconsistent with the established standards of professional conduct” and constituted a violation of the hospital’s “Discrimination and Harassment Policy.” It was beyond belief.
According to the hospital’s bylaws, Dr. Church can ask for an appeal hearing, which he has done. It has been scheduled for the end of July. However, it is not a “legal” process per se, but completely run by hospital rules. Dr. Church can at least be accompanied by an attorney, which was not allowed in any of the previous hearings.
Given the way the hospital has handled this so far, the odds of a successful appeal are not good.
Is this the future for us all?
Dr. Church has essentially done what virtually no one in the pro-family establishment has been willing to do for at least a decade: unflinchingly tell the medical and moral truth about homosexual behavior. In our opinion, that failure is the main reason why we have lost so much ground in the courts, the public forum, and just about everywhere else.
And this is what it’s come to. The insanity of this decision by a major hospital against a respected physician is staggering. It is one thing for the education system, big business, or even government to succumb to the lunacy of “political correctness.” But when the medical profession do so – especially such an irrational and oppressive manner – it is time for all of us to be fearful. Is this the future?
If you do nothing else, make sure that Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center hears from you – and as many others as you can get — on this. Dr. Church has put his career on the line for all of us. It’s time for us to step up for him.
Contact the president of BIDMC right now. Tell him this is an unacceptable way for a hospital to act. Dr. Church must be reinstated to his position immediately!
Kevin Tabb, MD
President and CEO, BIDMC
Boston, MA 02215