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Medical groups ask feds to probe threats against children’s hospitals

Boston Herald 10/4/2022 Associated Press

Three major medical associations have asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate and prosecute people who are threatening violence against children’s hospitals and physicians that provide gender-affirming health care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association and the Children’s Hospital Association wrote to Garland on Monday. Their demands come amid a spate of threats against doctors and institutions that provide medical care for transgender kids, sometimes including hormones or surgery for older teens.

Children’s hospitals in Boston and nationwide have substantially increased security and are working with law enforcement, while some providers now need constant security, the associations said.

Garland did not immediately comment publicly, and a spokesperson did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment Tuesday. Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said this summer that the Department of Justice will ensure equal protection of transgender people under the law.

Rollins said she would not let “hate-based criminal activity” continue after Boston Children’s Hospital said in August that its doctors and other staffers were being threatened with violence over its surgical program for transgender youths. The hospital is home to the first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program in the United States.

The medical associations said in their letter that the social media threats have continued, coupled with harassing emails, phone calls and protesters at health care sites, causing “elevated and justifiable fear among families, patients and staff.”

“From Boston to Akron to Nashville to Seattle, children’s hospitals, academic health systems and physicians are being targeted and threatened for providing evidence-based health care,” the letter states. “These attacks have not only made it difficult and dangerous for institutions and practices to provide this care, they have also disrupted many other services to families seeking care.”

The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics are two of the nation’s most influential physician groups, helping shape government policy at the national level and in doctors’ offices. The Children’s Hospital Association represents more than 220 hospitals serving kids nationwide.

Boston Children’s became the focus of far-right social media accounts, news outlets and bloggers after they found informational YouTube videos published by the hospital about surgical offerings for transgender patients. Critics staged a protest at the hospital last month but were outnumbered by police and counter-protesters.

The medical associations argue that the attacks are rooted in an “intentional campaign of disinformation.”

FILE ?? © Provided by Boston Herald FILE ?? Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) © Provided by Boston Herald Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Justice Department Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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