CNN Fact Check Peddles False Claims About Hysterectomies For Minors

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On Wednesday’s installment of New Day on CNN, host Brianna Keilar and correspondent Alexandra Field alleged that it is “misinformation” and “demonstrably false” to say that Boston Children’s Hospital provides genital surgeries for minors. Unfortunately, reality is more complicated.

Keilar kicked off the segment by reporting that “Boston Children’s Hospital says its doctors and staff have been facing violent threats after right-wing groups spread online misinformation and conspiracy theories like this one on TikTok about their facility providing care for transgender children.”

Obviously threats are not acceptable, but the purpose of this segment was to shut up BCH’s critics and Field wasted no time attempting to do just that, “Look, the claims being made online are demonstrably false, unequivocally.”

She further reported that, “But the hospital has now put out a statement saying it’s taking all possible measures to protect members of the community, and it is saying in no uncertain terms it condemns the attacks and misinformation that is being spread. It also goes on to say in very clear terms, ‘Boston Children’s does not perform genital surgeries as part of gender affirming care on a patient under the age of 18.’” 

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It is true that if you go to BCH’s website it says in bolded text that “To qualify for vaginoplasty at Boston Children’s Hospital, you must be at least 18 years old and meet certain,” but on August 7, before the video went viral, the same website said in unbolded text that the age was 17.

Either the original website was wrong and nobody noticed until they got embarrassed on Twitter or BCH is lying. Either way, it is dishonest to say critics are spreading conspiracy theories that are “demonstrably false.”

Field was not done accusing critics of disinformation, “That video showed a doctor talking about and explaining hysterectomy, the doctor made no mention of girls, no mention of minors and yet that post was accompanied with this text, ‘Boston Children’s Hospital is offering ‘gender affirming hysterectomies for young girls,’ just entirely false.”

Not mentioning it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Again, the BCH’s own website says “The Center for Gender Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital provides gender affirmation surgery services to eligible adolescents [emphasis added] and young adults” and one surgery listed on the same PDF is a hysterectomy.

Elsewhere their website says “Most surgeons prefer to wait until someone is an older adolescent [emphasis added] or young adult before performing these surgeries. Surgical options include: surgery to the breast area and genital surgery” and hysterectomies are not included in the list of genital surgeries that require a patient be at least 18-years old.

Wrapping up Field warned that “we’re talking about this not just because of the threats to this hospital, but because it’s part of a larger narrative we’re seeing nationwide. We’re seeing more facilities that provide gender affirming care, which is not just surgery at all, it’s a multidisciplinary approach to caring for the transgender community coming under fire.” 

Keilar then concluded the segment by lamenting “That misinformation being amplified by a former top aide to President Trump, we should mention. This is gaining a lot of traction.”

Perhaps because “misinformation” is really just information.

This segment was sponsored by Samsung.

Here is a transcript for the August 18 show:

CNN New Day With John Berman and Brianna Keilar

8/18/2022

8:35 AM ET

BRIANNA KEILAR: Boston Children’s Hospital says its doctors and staff have been facing violent threats after right-wing groups spread online misinformation and conspiracy theories like this one on TikTok about their facility providing care for transgender children. CNN’s Alexandra Field is with us now on this story. What’s happening here? 

ALEXANDRA FIELD: Look, the claims being made online are demonstrably false, unequivocally. But the threats that this hospital community is facing, they are and they feel very, very real. Boston Children’s Hospital bills itself as the first pediatric and adolescent transgender health facility in the nation, it provides gender affirming are. But the hospital has now put out a statement saying it’s taking all possible measures to protect members of the community, and it is saying in no uncertain terms it condemns the attacks and misinformation that is being spread. It also goes on to say in very clear terms, “Boston Children’s does not perform genital surgeries as part of gender affirming care on a patient under the age of 18.” 

Now, the U.S. Attorney in Massachusetts has said that their office is investigating any possible leads after they saw this spike in threats against the hospital community that followed a proliferation of social media posts, including a video that was posted to an account that has 1.3 million followers. That video showed a doctor talking about and explaining hysterectomy, the doctor made no mention of girls, no mention of minors and yet that post was accompanied with this text, “Boston Children’s Hospital is offering ‘gender affirming hysterectomies for young girls,” just entirely false.

But really we’re talking about this not just because of the threats to this hospital, but because it’s part of a larger narrative we’re seeing nationwide. We’re seeing more facilities that provide gender affirming care, which is not just surgery at all, it’s a multidisciplinary approach to caring for the transgender community coming under fire. Now, Massachusetts has very strong laws that protect and support the LGBTQ+ community. But we have seen action in 15 other states to either implement or work to implement laws that would restrict access to this kind of care. 

KEILAR: That misinformation being amplified by a former top aide to President Trump, we should mention. This is gaining a lot of traction. Alexandra Field, thank you for taking us through that. 

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