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Catholic hospital says it was 'morally wrong' to argue fetus is not a person
by NWP
February 4, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Catholic hospital says it was 'morally wrong' to argue fetus is not a person

By CNN Staff
updated 8:51 PM EST, Mon February 4, 2013
Watch this video

Catholic hospital flips on fetus death

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Catholic hospital reverses stance in case of Lori Stodghill, who died there
  • Her husband sued the hospital on behalf of his wife and their unborn twins
  • Attorneys for the hospital argued in court that a fetus is not a person

(CNN) -- A Catholic hospital in hot water for claiming in a Colorado court that a fetus is not a person backtracked on Monday, saying it was "morally wrong" to make the argument while defending itself in a wrongful death lawsuit.

The flip-flop concerns the case of Lori Stodghill. She was 28 weeks pregnant with twins when she went to the emergency room of St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City, Colorado, vomiting and short of breath.

She went into cardiac arrest in the lobby and died. That was New Year's Day 2006.

Her husband, Jeremy Stodghill, sued the hospital and its owner, Catholic Health Initiatives, for the wrongful deaths of his wife and their unborn sons.

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Given the Catholic Church's belief that life begins at conception, defense attorneys for the hospital and doctors then entered an unusual argument.

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They said that under state law, an embryo is not person until it is born alive.

The claim attracted widespread attention and criticism, which apparently forced the about-face.

"In the discussion with the Church leaders, CHI representatives acknowledged that it was morally wrong for attorneys representing St. Thomas More Hospital to cite the state's Wrongful Death Act in defense of this lawsuit. That law does not consider fetuses to be persons, which directly contradicts the moral teachings of the Church," Catholic Health Initiatives said in a statement.

It promised that attorneys for the hospital would not cite the Wrongful Death Act in any future hearings.

Stodghill has petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to hear his case.

The state's bishops similarly released a statement, expressing support for CHI and for the Stodghill family.

"We join CHI in affirming the fundamental truth that human life, human dignity and human rights begin at conception. No law can ever mitigate God-given human rights," they said. "Each human life is a sacred gift, created as a unique and unrepeatable expression of God's love. Life is given by God, and the right to life is a fundamental good, without which no other rights can be enjoyed."

Replies

  • lizzielouaf
    February 5, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    I honestly don't know so it would be conjecture on my part. I'm sure there was a lot of confusion amongst their own parishioners about them using that as a defense.  Btw, defendants must sign off on a defense tactic so they can't use the "I didn't know they were gonna use that" argument. 


    Quoting NWP:

    Oh...I wonder then if he has a valid case for appeal if they changed thier mind after the fact?


  • Traci_Momof2
    February 5, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Here's my question based on the info presented in OP and responses.

    Let's throw morals out the window for a minute.  Based on federal and state law, did the hospital have a legal obligation to try to save those babies once the mother's life had passed?  If the answer is no, then I see no issue in the hospital's defense using the legal definition of a person (meaning, not including a fetus) and they were right to win the case.  I would then say they are wrong to backpedal now.  If the answer is yes, they had a legal obligation, then I would say the father should have won the case and the hospital defense was wrong to use that.

    In a legal court proceeding, it doesn't really matter what is moral or not or the moral beliefs of either party.  What matters is what was the legal responsibility of all involved.

  • ashleyrenee24
    February 5, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Eh, I don't care what they think is moral or not.

  • SRUsarahSC
    February 5, 2013 at 5:38 PM

    so, when this first came out, all the anti Catholics on this site went nuts over the hypocrisy (which it was hypocritical, wrong, and immoral to use that argument, but we have to hear whether or not the religious clergy in charge of the hospital were even aware prior to the lawyers filing their paperwork that this would be the defense used)....now they offer a public apology and state that that will not be used as their legal argument on the case, and still, people  are condemning them.  Who's the hypocrite now?  Are they not allowed to defend themselves at all?

  • PinkButterfly66
    February 5, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Not to mention hypocritical.

  • NWP
    by NWP
    February 5, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    From what I understand, they used this argument to win the case and are now going after the man for their legal fees. Now that the case has been ruled in their favor, they are back tracking about the moral issues after the fact...

    Isn't that what you call having your cake and eating it too?

    If they truly believe what they are saying now, wouldn't they not be going after this man for their legal fees AND be offering him a settlement payment for wrongful death of his babies instead of trying to blackmail him into dropping the appeal by offering to forgo their legal fees they won with this "immoral" legal argument?

    IMO this is MORE hypocritical than if they had stood their ground on the legal case as argued.

    Quoting SRUsarahSC:

    so, when this first came out, all the anti Catholics on this site went nuts over the hypocrisy (which it was hypocritical, wrong, and immoral to use that argument, but we have to hear whether or not the religious clergy in charge of the hospital were even aware prior to the lawyers filing their paperwork that this would be the defense used)....now they offer a public apology and state that that will not be used as their legal argument on the case, and still, people  are condemning them.  Who's the hypocrite now?  Are they not allowed to defend themselves at all?


  • SRUsarahSC
    February 5, 2013 at 6:16 PM



    From what I understand, they used this argument to win the case and are now going after the man for their legal fees. Now that the case has been ruled in their favor, they are back tracking about the moral issues after the fact...

    Isn't that what you call having your cake and eating it too?

    If they truly believe what they are saying now, wouldn't they not be going after this man for their legal fees AND be offering him a settlement payment for wrongful death of his babies instead of trying to blackmail him into dropping the appeal by offering to forgo their legal fees they won with this "immoral" legal argument?

    IMO this is MORE hypocritical than if they had stood their ground on the legal case as argued.

    Quoting SRUsarahSC:

    so, when this first came out, all the anti Catholics on this site went nuts over the hypocrisy (which it was hypocritical, wrong, and immoral to use that argument, but we have to hear whether or not the religious clergy in charge of the hospital were even aware prior to the lawyers filing their paperwork that this would be the defense used)....now they offer a public apology and state that that will not be used as their legal argument on the case, and still, people  are condemning them.  Who's the hypocrite now?  Are they not allowed to defend themselves at all?



    This has not gone to court to date.  Again, they have a right to defend themselves in court. Asking for legal fees is standard procedure when being sued.  Offering to drop the judgement is essentially offering a settlement. The man is under no obligation to accept it, but the hospital can make offers to settle to save everyone from having to go to court.  Most often in situations like this, the cases are settled out of court....but the organization being sued has to offer the settlement, don't they?

  • unspecified42
    February 5, 2013 at 6:36 PM
    Probably because its legally true. The husband had no case legally and was likely counting on the hospitals religious beliefs to put them between a rock and a hard place.

    Quoting LucyMom08:

     I guess they didn't like the public backlash...their hypocrisy was a bit ridiculous...now the backpedaling is just a wee bit too obvious...if it was so 'morally wrong', why did they use the defense in the first place?



  • NWP
    by NWP
    February 5, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    Offering to drop their legal costs for the lawyers who claimed the fetus's weren't actually people as a
    "settlement" for not pursuing the case does nothing for this man and is hypocritical and pathetic IMO.

    If their whol argument were that the fetus's were not legally people and they are now backtracking on that, and they actually believe the fetus's were people, wouldn't they offer to pay the man a full settle out of court on wrongful death because it is the moral and right thing to do?

    Quoting SRUsarahSC:




    From what I understand, they used this argument to win the case and are now going after the man for their legal fees. Now that the case has been ruled in their favor, they are back tracking about the moral issues after the fact...

    Isn't that what you call having your cake and eating it too?

    If they truly believe what they are saying now, wouldn't they not be going after this man for their legal fees AND be offering him a settlement payment for wrongful death of his babies instead of trying to blackmail him into dropping the appeal by offering to forgo their legal fees they won with this "immoral" legal argument?

    IMO this is MORE hypocritical than if they had stood their ground on the legal case as argued.

    Quoting SRUsarahSC:

    so, when this first came out, all the anti Catholics on this site went nuts over the hypocrisy (which it was hypocritical, wrong, and immoral to use that argument, but we have to hear whether or not the religious clergy in charge of the hospital were even aware prior to the lawyers filing their paperwork that this would be the defense used)....now they offer a public apology and state that that will not be used as their legal argument on the case, and still, people  are condemning them.  Who's the hypocrite now?  Are they not allowed to defend themselves at all?



    This has not gone to court to date.  Again, they have a right to defend themselves in court. Asking for legal fees is standard procedure when being sued.  Offering to drop the judgement is essentially offering a settlement. The man is under no obligation to accept it, but the hospital can make offers to settle to save everyone from having to go to court.  Most often in situations like this, the cases are settled out of court....but the organization being sued has to offer the settlement, don't they?


  • LindaClement
    February 5, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    Catholic hospital can TALK!?!

    Why isn't that on the news?

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