Catholic hospital group says fetus lawsuit defense was “morally wrong”

By Reuters Staff
February 6, 2013

(A visitor looks at a fetus that died before it was born during “Bodies: The Exhibition”, an international exhibition, by Gunther Von Hagens in Lima June 24, 2009. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares)

A Catholic hospital group said it was “morally wrong” to contradict its church’s teachings on the beginning of life when it argued fetuses are not people to defend itself against a wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado.

Catholic Health Initiatives said it will instead use other legal theories in the case.

The legal defense the hospital group has since disavowed stems from a malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit filed by Jeremy Stodghill in the 2006 deaths of his pregnant wife, Lori, and the couple’s twin fetuses.

The hospital group received widespread criticism when it surfaced that its lawyers had successfully argued the claims on behalf of the unborn twins should be dismissed under a Colorado law that says fetuses do not have legal status. The argument contradicted the Roman Catholic church’s longstanding teaching that life begins at conception.

The hospital group said in a statement on Monday that its lawyers were “morally wrong” to cite Colorado’s so-called Wrongful Death Act in defending the lawsuit

“Although the argument was legally correct, recourse to an unjust law was morally wrong,” the statement said.

The 31-year-old Lori Stodghill, who was seven months pregnant, collapsed at St. Thomas More Hospital & Medical Center in Canon City, Colorado, and died of a pulmonary embolism.

The facility is part of Catholic Health Initiatives, which operates hospitals in 17 states.

Read the full story by Keith Coffman here.
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