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Catholic hospital: Fetuses aren't people

  • Attorneys for St. Thomas More Hospital appear to be arguing against the church's teachings
  • Move is an attempt to avoid a wrongful death lawsuit
Catholic hospital: Fetuses aren't people

Attorneys representing a Catholic hospital in Colorado appear to be going against church doctrine to avoid a wrongful death lawsuit.

Jeremy Stodghill is suing St. Thomas More Hospital because his wife Lori Stodghill and the couple's unborn twins died in 2006 at the medical facility in Canon City, Colorado. Stodghill's attorneys claim his wife and unborn children were victims of negligence, and the hospital is at fault for the fetuses dying because there was no effort to perform an emergency Cesarean section.

Court documents filed by Stodghill's attorneys say his wife died after going into cardiac arrest, and there was no attempt to try to deliver the twins.

The wrongful death case was filed in 2007, and an appeals court recently agreed with the hospital, dismissing all the claims.

Stodghill is appealing that ruling to the Colorado Supreme Court.

The hospital's lawyers are arguing that, legally, fetuses aren't people.

Their argument boils down to this: Under Colorado law, a fetus is not a person, and the plaintiff's claims for wrongful death should therefore be dismissed. This argument contradicts the church's teachings that life begins at conception.

The Archdiocese of Denver has released a statement saying the company that runs the hospital, Catholic Health Initiatives, has assured the archdiocese that it intends to "observe the moral and ethical obligations of the Catholic Church."

The statement goes on to say, "The Catholic bishops of Colorado are not able to comment on the legal disputes. However, we will undertake a full review of this litigation, and policies and practices of Catholic Health Initiatives to ensure fidelity and faithful witness to the teachings of the Catholic Church."

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