SC court denies motion to delay sex-assignment surgery case

      COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) - A South Carolina court rejected amotion by the Department of Social Services and two hospitals to delay a casethat accuses the agencies of performing a sex-assignment surgery on a16-month-old child.

      The 5th Judicial Circuit Court decided recently that DSS andthe hospital would have to defend their decision to castrate the child known asMC.

      "The court's decision moves M.C. a step closer to justice,"said Kristi Graunke, Southern Poverty Law Center senior supervising attorney."This ruling holds doctors accountable when they recommend such drastic andirreversible procedures for infants but fail to ensure caregivers are fullyinformed about the risks and options."

      According to court records, MC was born with an intersexcondition, meaning he had sexual anatomy that did not identify him as either aboy or girl specifically. As a result, hospital staff decided to make MC a girlafter a discussion with DSS officials, said a release from the Southern PovertyLaw Center.

      "Our young client was profoundly harmed when doctors andstate agents decided to remove his penis and testicle," said Anne Tamar-Mattis,co-counsel from Advocates for Informed Choice. "We look forward to continuingthe fight on M.C.'s behalf and to ensuring that no child ever has to undergosuch life-altering surgeries without informed consent."

      MC is now eight years old, according to the SPLC.

      Lawsuits were filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center andAdvocates for Informed Choice in both state and federal courts in May on behalfof MC's adoptive parents. U.S. District Judge David C. Norton for theCharleston Division of South Carolina denied a motion by the defendants inAugust to dismiss the case.

      Defendants have appealed that decision to the 4th U.S.Circuit Court of Appeals.

      The state circuit court's order stated, "Staying this casewhile a federal court weighs an unrelated and inapplicable federal immunitydefense would weigh the litigation in favor of the Defendants by unnecessarilydelaying M.C.'s efforts to prove his state claims."{}