Unborn child is not a person, Catholic hospital argues

Colorado’s Catholic bishops have hastened to uphold the rights of the unborn after a Catholic hospital in the state won a wrongful-death lawsuit by arguing that an unborn child is not a person.

The case was brought by Jeremy Stodghill, whose 31-year-old wife Lori and her unborn twins all died in 2006 at a hospital operated by Catholic Health Initiatives.

Stodghill sued CHI, the hospital, his wife’s obstetrician and the emergency room doctor.

In the case of the twins, he argued that because they were viable at 28 weeks’ gestation — which none of the defendants disputed – he should be able to sue for their wrongful deaths.

Lawyers for CHI argued that no act could have saved Mrs Stodghill, who suffered a heart attack due to a blood clot which travelled to her lungs.

But they also argued that CHI could not be held liable for the deaths of the twins because in Colorado law “a fetus is not a person until it is born alive”.

After CHI advanced this argument, lawyers for the two doctors raised the same contention.

Following two court rulings in favour of CHI, Stodghill has appealed to the state’s supreme court.

A statement from Colorado’s three bishops said: “Catholics and Catholic institutions have the duty to protect and foster human life, and to witness to the dignity of the human person — particularly to the dignity of the unborn. No Catholic institution may legitimately work to undermine fundamental human dignity.”

They added: “Catholic Health Initiatives has been accused by some of undermining the Catholic position on human life in the course of litigation. Today, representatives of Catholic Health Initiatives assured us of their intention to observe the moral and ethical obligations of the Catholic Church.

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


Catholic News Agency

Archdiocese of Denver

Image: Jezebel

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