Catholic Hospital Wins Malpractice Lawsuit by Saying ‘Fetus’ Aren’t People’
Attorneys for a chain of Catholic hospitals said fetus' aren't people, winning a malpractice lawsuit in Colorado. The Catholic Church has long been widely known to be against contraceptives, abortion and believes life begins at conception.
The attorneys for Catholic Health Initiatives swayed from the official church stance the hospitals claim they follow. In a Colorado courtroom the attorneys said fetus' aren't people to beat a malpractice lawsuit.
A 31 year old woman from Cañon City, Colorado carrying twin fetus' died in the hospital on New Year's Day 2006. Her husband, a corrections officer, sued for medical malpractice because an emergency C-Section was not performed and the twins died.
The attorneys for St. Thomas More Hospital pointed to Colorado law, not the official church stance, arguing that in wrongful death cases the term "person" only applies to people born alive and not those who die in the womb.
Lori Stodghill was seven months pregnant with her twins when she died in the ER on January 1, 2006 in Cañon City, Colorado. She was admitted for nausea, vomiting and shortness of breath. Lori lost consciousness as she was taken to an exam room where she died. A main artery in her lungs had clogged and led to a heart attack, her twins died as well. Her obstetrician was paged, but never answered.
The suit filed by her husband, on behalf of himself and their daughter, says she should have been admitted faster or had an emergency C-section. Even if it would have only saved the twins.
The defense attorney argued that the court, "should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term 'person' as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define 'person' under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.
The parent company of St. Thomas More Hospital base their ethics on the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church. Which clearly state "Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life from the moment of conception until death. The Church's defense of life encompasses the unborn."
The case is up for consideration in the state Supreme Court. Three Catholic bishops in Colorado have said they will review the defense.