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Ear to the Ground

Catholic Hospital Chain Wins Lawsuit by Arguing Fetus Is Not a Person

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Posted on Jan 24, 2013
Wikimedia Commons

Catholic Health Initiatives headquarters.

A Catholic health provider has abandoned its beliefs by arguing that a dead fetus and a dead person are not the same thing in order to win a malpractice lawsuit.

The case stems from the death of 31-year-old Lori Stodghill, who was pregnant with twins when she died of a heart attack in 2006. The woman’s husband, Jeremy, filed a wrongful death suit against the faith-based, nonprofit hospital chain Catholic Health Initiatives, alleging its decision not to perform a perimortem cesarean section led to the deaths of the twins.

The health provider was able to win that lawsuit by arguing—against its own religious doctrine—that a fetus is not a person. The hospital chain’s strategy demonstrates that, in the end, greed and money ultimately triumph over principles and beliefs.

Gawker:

Catholic Health Initiatives is the second-largest faith-based health system in America, and boasts 78 hospitals in 17 different states.

CHI claims to follow the tenets of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care [PDF], which clearly state that “The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”

But when push came to shove, CHI abandoned their beliefs in order to win a malpractice lawsuit.

CHI’s lawyer, Jason Langley, successfully convinced both the Fremont County District Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals to throw out Jeremy’s lawsuit on the basis that CHI can not be sued for the wrongful death of a fetus, because it is not a person.

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—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

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