Are "strange," "Immoral," and "unfamiliar" feelings enough to block medical care for a prison inmate? Well, yes, in Massachusetts, to a five-judge federal court of appeals panel. They ruled en banc by 3 to 2 to overturn first a trial judgment and then a 3-judge panel of appeals justices that mandates sexual reassignment surgery for an inmate serving a life term.
Michelle Kosilek had fought for her surgery for a decade, winning before Judge Mark Wolf and then the panel. The Commonwealth persisted and finally had its way on Tuesday.
This becomes a de facto prohibition on such surgery here. Kosilek has long had hormone and other treatments, all short of the surgery. She won on Eighth Amendment grounds — cruel and unusual punishment for denial of necessary medical treatment. The Commonwealth edged out its win on what a dissenting judge called lies, ignoring the facts, rejecting case law, and making up law on the fly.
I'll talk the implications and how sadly the federal court here looks like the reactionary majority of the SCO)TUS.