Hospital apologises for arguing a fetus is not a person

Following a meeting with Colorado’s three bishops, a Catholic hospital group has apologised for arguing in a wrongful-death lawsuit that a fetus is not a person.

Catholic Health Initiatives acknowledged it was “morally wrong” for lawyers representing one of its hospitals to cite the state’s Wrongful Death Act in defence of a lawsuit brought by the husband of a woman who died with her unborn twins at the hospital in 2006.

CHI’s lawyers argued that it could not be held liable for the deaths of the twins because under the Wrongful Death Act “a fetus is not a person until it is born alive”.

In a statement, CHI also “unequivocally affirmed CHI’s strict adherence to one of the Church’s most basic moral commitments — that every person is created in the image and likeness of God and that life begins at the moment of conception.

“It is an unfortunate and regrettable point of fact that Colorado law, as it now stands, fails to adequately protect the rights of the unborn.”

CHI said lawyers for the hospital “will not cite the Wrongful Death Act, which does not allow fetuses to sue, in any future legal hearings of this case. Although the argument was legally correct, recourse to an unjust law was morally wrong.”

Meanwhile, the case has fuelled a long-standing debate in Colorado over whether unborn children should have legal rights.

A state legislative committee recently defeated a bill to make it a crime to kill an unborn child in cases such as mass shootings.

Another bill to be considered would make it a crime to kill an unborn child during a criminal act committed against a pregnant woman. That measure specifically states that the intent is neither to outlaw abortions nor to give unborn children additional rights.

Spurred on by advancing medical technology that makes unborn children more viable and more visible, nearly 40 legislatures in the United States permit wrongful death lawsuits on behalf of unborn children.


Catholic Health Initiatives


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