A Catholic hospital in Colorado appears to be contradicting the church's pro-life teachings in a lawsuit involving the deaths of a mother and her twin fetuses in which the hospital is arguing a fetus is not a person.
The case involves the 2006 death of Lori Stodghill, 31, who was seven months pregnant with twins when she died. In 2007, Lori's husband Jeremy filed a malpractice lawsuit against St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City, alleging the hospital's failure to perform an emergency Cesarean section on the mother led to the death of the fetuses.
The hospital argued that a fetus is not considered a "person," which is why it is not covered under the Wrongful Death Act, according to court documents.
The Colorado State District Court and an appeals court have sided with the hospital, and Jeremy Stodghill is in the process of appealing the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court.
The hospital is run by Catholic Health Initiatives, an organization that said in a statement it follows Catholic teaching.
"First and foremost, our heartfelt sympathies have always been with the Stodghill family as a result of these tragic circumstances," the statement from the Catholic Health Initiatives said. "In this case, St. Thomas More, Centura Health and Catholic Health Initiatives, as Catholic organizations, are in union with the moral teachings of the Church."
The hospital's stance appears to be in direct violation of the church's teachings on the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception.
It has led some to call criticize the hospital as hypocritical.
"There's a difference between being legal and being right . . . Either a fetus is a person or it's not," Southern Baptist ethicist Richard Land told USA Today
, arguing the institution's position does not support its pro-life principles.
On Thursday, three Catholic bishops in Colorado told the press that they would review the case in question to assess whether or not it violates Catholic teachings.
"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," the bishops said in a joint statement. "No Catholic institution may legitimately work to undermine fundamental human dignity."
In the past, formerly Catholic hospitals in the United States have lost their status in the church for procedures that violate the church's moral teachings, such as abortions.
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