Scotland – NHS in Scotland spent £1.5m on sex changes… [2009-08-24 The Herald]

From Andrea B.

August 24 2009

NHS in Scotland spent £1.5m on sex changes

DOCTORS in Scotland have spent more than £1.5m over the past five years referring transsexuals for sex-change operations on the NHS.

More than 100 patients have undergone “gender reassignment surgery” at private clinics and hospitals in England because Scotland lacks the specialist facilities needed to carry out the operations.

A landmark ruling in 1998 by the Court of Appeal in England which recognised gender reassignment therapy as a necessary medical treatment that should be available on the NHS has meant health boards across the UK are required to offer transsexuals hormone treatment and surgery.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, responding to a request under Freedom of Information laws, revealed it spent £506,000 on surgery for nine women and 22 men.

NHS Lothian spent £264,000 on surgery for 12 patients and NHS Ayrshire and Arran paid £226,000 for operations on 20 patients.

The vast majority of the operations were carried out at private clinics, including in London’s Harley Street, though some NHS hospitals in England were also used.

Margaret Watt, chairwoman of the Scotland Patients’ Association said: “The NHS should be looking at making this available in Scotland.”

There are an estimated 5000 transsexuals in the UK.

A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “The NHS carries out certain gender realignment procedures if it is clinically considered to be appropriate and if the patient fulfils certain clinical criteria.”

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: “Where the clinical expertise for these procedures does not exist in Scotland, patients are referred for treatment in England. NHS treatments for Scottish patients which take place in England are paid for by a fund pooled from the 14 NHS boards.”

© 2009 Newsquest (Herald & Times) Limited.

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Women’s Health Is Universal Health Care

Cecile Richards

President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Posted: August 18, 2009 03:54 PM
From Huffington Post

So yesterday an article by Dan Gilgoff appeared in the U.S. News World Report titled “Bishops Demand Universal Healthcare Without Abortion.” Does anyone else see the irony in the U.S. bishops wanting to define universal health care as covering everything except for what they don’t support? Under this theory, I suppose women are supposed to wait to see just exactly how the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops comes down on a variety of health care needs to understand what in fact will be considered universal. Since when does universal health care mean denying comprehensive reproductive health care supported by the majority of Americans?

Under a “God & Country” header, Mr. Gilgoff’s article reports on the ongoing demands by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to eliminate the legally protected right to abortion from the American health care system, but doesn’t bother to mention all the other positions of the U.S. Conference: the bishops agree with Pope Benedict that condoms can worsen the AIDS pandemic in Africa; that contraception should not be covered under most health plans and that it is not basic health care; and argue that emergency contraception will not reduce either the need for abortion or unintended pregnancy. Seems that, if the U.S. Conference had its way, the national health care system would make American women second-class citizens and deny them access to benefits they currently have.

The danger, of course, is not simply that the bishops are pushing to erode decades of legal access to contraception and abortion in America. Their hard-line opposition to women’s rights also endangers millions of women around the globe — where women also need universal health care access. The effort to criminalize access to safe abortion endangers most women in the developing world — the very women that you would think the bishops would be concerned about. Each year, an estimated 19 million women — primarily in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean — resort to unsafe abortions. Globally, an estimated 68,000 women die each year as a consequence, and more than five million each year suffer temporary or permanent disability — including the inability to have a future healthy pregnancy.

The root cause of unsafe abortion is unintended pregnancy, a result of the lack of affordable and accessible contraception for women. The correlation between higher contraceptive use and lower maternal mortality is well established.

We have an opportunity this year to fundamentally address serious health care issues for women and young people in America, and we stand ready to partner with President Obama and Congress to find solutions to our most pressing health care issues. The United States continues to have some of the highest rates of unintended and teen pregnancy among the world’s most developed countries, and now epidemic rates of sexually transmitted infections among our teens. If we did our job right in expanding access to contraception, we’d see a lower abortion rate in America, just like in most other developed nations.

I’d welcome the bishops’ commitment to focus on these “universal”‘ problems, rather than continue to fight to diminish a woman’s right to make personal decisions that should be kept between her and her doctor.

We call upon Congress and the White House to continue to stand firmly on the side of women in health care reform. Women are needed to pass health care reform — and we are not going backwards and we are not going away.

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