ONTD Political

In malpractice case, Catholic hospital argues fetuses aren’t people

7:42 pm - 01/23/2013

Lori Stodghill was 31-years old, seven-months pregnant with twin boys and feeling sick when she arrived at St. Thomas More hospital in Cañon City on New Year’s Day 2006. She was vomiting and short of breath and she passed out as she was being wheeled into an examination room. Medical staff tried to resuscitate her but, as became clear only later, a main artery feeding her lungs was clogged and the clog led to a massive heart attack. Stodghill’s obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, who also happened to be the obstetrician on call for emergencies that night, never answered a page. His patient died at the hospital less than an hour after she arrived and her twins died in her womb.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Stodghill’s husband Jeremy, a prison guard, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couple’s then-two-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Staples should have made it to the hospital, his lawyers argued, or at least instructed the frantic emergency room staff to perform a caesarian-section. The procedure likely would not have saved the mother, a testifying expert said, but it may have saved the twins.

The lead defendant in the case is Catholic Health Initiatives, the Englewood-based nonprofit that runs St. Thomas More Hospital as well as roughly 170 other health facilities in 17 states. Last year, the hospital chain reported national assets of $15 billion. The organization’s mission, according to its promotional literature, is to “nurture the healing ministry of the Church” and to be guided by “fidelity to the Gospel.” Toward those ends, Catholic Health facilities seek to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Those rules have stirred controversy for decades, mainly for forbidding non-natural birth control and abortions. “Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death,’” the directives state. “The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”

The directives can complicate business deals for Catholic Health, as they can for other Catholic health care providers, partly by spurring political resistance. In 2011, the Kentucky attorney general and governo nixed a plan n which Catholic Health sought to merge with and ultimately gain control of publicly funded hospitals in Louisville. The officials were reacting to citizen concerns that access to reproductive and end-of-life services would be curtailed. According t The Denver Post, similar fears slowed the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth’s plan over the last few years to buy out Exempla Lutheran Medical Center and Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in the Denver metro area.

But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.

As Jason Langley, an attorney with Denver-based Kennedy Childs, argued in one of the briefs he filed for the defense, 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 Catholic Health attorneys have so far won decisions from Fremont County District Court Judge David M. Thorson and now-retired Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Arthur Roy.

In September, the Stodghills’ Aspen-based attorney Beth Krulewitch working with Denver-based attorney Dan Gerash appealed the case to the state Supreme Court. In their petition they argued that Judges Thorson and Roy overlooked key facts and set bad legal precedent that would open loopholes in Colorado’s malpractice law, relieving doctors of responsibility to patients whose viable fetuses are at risk.

Whether the high court decides to take the case, kick it back down to the appellate court for a second review or accept the decisions as they stand, the details of the arguments the lawyers involved have already mounted will likely renew debate about Church health care directives and trigger sharp reaction from activists on both sides of the debate looking to underline the apparent hypocrisy of Catholic Health’s defense.

At press time, Catholic Health did not return messages seeking comment. The Stodghills’ attorneys declined to comment while the case was still being considered for appeal.

The Supreme Court is set to decide whether to take the case in the next few weeks.


SOURCE

SMH. I just have no words tbh
halfshellvenus 24th-Jan-2013 01:29 am (UTC)
You can't have it both ways. And for the record, the wanted babies should be the priority. Those twins were very much wanted.
seishin 24th-Jan-2013 01:39 am (UTC)
YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS, ASSHOLE.


shortsweetcynic 24th-Jan-2013 02:00 am (UTC)
came to say this exactly.
tabaqui 24th-Jan-2013 01:44 am (UTC)
I hope this bites all anti-abortion 'overturn roe v wade' assholes SO HARD.
If a fetus isn't a person, then that totally nixes all personhood bills and a lot of other abortion restriction bills.

So go ahead, catholic church! Argue that the fetus is not a person. I will cheer you on!
girly123 24th-Jan-2013 02:23 am (UTC)
Same. It's sickening that women have to continue dying for this to happen, but I really hope that this completely fucks them over.
chimbleysweep 24th-Jan-2013 01:44 am (UTC)
omg the gall.
ladyvoldything 24th-Jan-2013 01:54 am (UTC)
thenakedcat 24th-Jan-2013 02:00 am (UTC)
....AND THIS IS WHY I VOTED FOR THE COLORADO SPRINGS CITY HOSPITAL TO BECOME PART OF THE U OF C HEALTH SYSTEM: BECAUSE THE OTHER POTENTIAL BUYERS WERE CATHOLIC HOSPITALS.
girly123 24th-Jan-2013 02:22 am (UTC)
I'm convinced that Catholic hospitals just really like the idea of women dying due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth, because nothing else makes sense at this point.
squeeful 24th-Jan-2013 03:36 am (UTC)
The sin of Eve, bb. The sin of Eve. May childbearing be painful and dangerous.
jeweledvixen 24th-Jan-2013 02:36 am (UTC)
An unborn fetus is a person with rights until it become inconvenient for you to make that claim. FU, Catholic Health and Catholic church. >:(
ducttapeninja 24th-Jan-2013 02:48 am (UTC)
What's that? Catholics being hypocrites?

I'm shocked, I tell you. Shocked.
apostle_of_eris 25th-Jan-2013 12:29 am (UTC)
this
When "the Church" lets nothing interfere with its power and unaccountability, that's like the sun rising in the east.
ahzuri 24th-Jan-2013 02:48 am (UTC)
One more reason to add to why I am refusing to even consider giving birth in August at the catholic hospital in town.
miss_almost 24th-Jan-2013 03:16 am (UTC)
for your own safety and health, i hope you find another hospital to give birth in.
zinnia_rose 24th-Jan-2013 03:11 am (UTC)
Fetuses are totally people! Except when it's inconvenient for men.

What a clusterfuck. Her poor husband and daughter. :(
johnjie 24th-Jan-2013 03:34 am (UTC)
You can't have it both ways, fuckers! Either you toe the church line and say foetuses are people and get sued or say they're not and don't.

That poor woman, I feel awful for her and her family :(
moonshaz 24th-Jan-2013 03:54 am (UTC)
You can't have it both ways, fuckers! Either you toe the church line and say foetuses are people and get sued AND TAKE YOUR MEDICINE or say they're not and don't.

There, now this statement is complete. :D
anjak_j 24th-Jan-2013 03:37 am (UTC)
So basically Catholic Health Initiatives built their beliefs upon sand and the minute it started shifting under their feet and the lawyers started calling, they ran as fast as possible in the opposite direction.

The rank fucking hypocrisy to claim a belief then abandon it when it becomes inconvenient... So. Much. Fucking. Hate.
amyura 24th-Jan-2013 03:42 am (UTC)
So they're jettisoning their "strongly held, uncompromising" principles for money. That's exactly what I look for in a church.

I'm sure they'll come up with some verbal gymnastics to justify this, just like they did when they excomminucated that CHILD in Brazil but let her rapist stepfather stay, just like they did when they tried to blame the sex abuse scandal on gay people.
poetic_pixie_13 24th-Jan-2013 03:51 am (UTC)
Stodghill’s obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, who also happened to be the obstetrician on call for emergencies that night, never answered a page.



The Catholic Health attorneys have so far won decisions from Fremont County District Court Judge David M. Thorson and now-retired Colorado Court of Appeals Judge Arthur Roy.



’ 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.

mercystars 24th-Jan-2013 04:18 am (UTC)
let us all pray at the altar of the allmighty dollar

it's wat jebus would've wanted
wikilobbying 24th-Jan-2013 04:26 am (UTC)
first of all, like other have said, you can't have it both fucking ways. second of all, how dare they even pull that card. they STILL fucked up and they should STILL be held responsible.
iolarah 24th-Jan-2013 06:53 am (UTC)
Soo...what I'm getting from this is that, in order to avoid a malpractice suit against the doctor for not responding to an emergency in which at least the unborn babies could have been saved, they're taking advantage of a law they have loudly disagreed with? WTF? Why didn't the doctor answer his damn pager? What a bunch of shitbags.
baka_tenshi 24th-Jan-2013 07:17 am (UTC)
well, well, fuckin well.
paksenarrion2 I really need an icon with JR rubbing his hands, cackling in glee24th-Jan-2013 08:48 am (UTC)
My heart hurts for Mr. Stodghill and his daughter. Because of these fucking assclarinets, they lost three people (probably two and possibly three).

I sincerely hope this clever plan of the Church backfires and bites them in their collective, hypocritical, lying, asses. Please let the Supreme Court take the case and uphold the decision so that suddenly unborn children are not considered persons. Hoist all of those fuckers up on their own petard.

ladyvoldything late but24th-Jan-2013 05:09 pm (UTC)
does this suffice as a cackling gif

asrana 24th-Jan-2013 10:11 am (UTC)
So... What's happening to the Dr?
tinylegacies 24th-Jan-2013 07:49 pm (UTC)
Right??? Why the hell didn't he answer the page?
louisiane_fille 24th-Jan-2013 03:58 pm (UTC)
Wow.

So basically, when you're pontificating to the rest of us, a fetus is a life. When it comes to protecting your wallets, then a fetus is not a life. Glad to see you put your money where your mouth is.

Hypocrites? Why, yes. Yes you are.

Edited at 2013-01-24 04:00 pm (UTC)
skellington1 24th-Jan-2013 04:38 pm (UTC)
So, really, the lawyers are doing what lawyers are paid to do -- work with the letter of the law. Since the church hasn't actually won any of their bids to define a fetus as a person, they still legally aren't. I wonder if the lawyers are catholic?

It's rank hypocrisy of the spirit of their own tenet to accept that as the defense, of course, but it's legally sound... and is anyone really surprised?
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