ONTD Political

Catholic Hospital Claims a Fetus Is Not a Person To Protect Itself From a Lawsuit

12:55 pm - 02/04/2013
In a country as awash in bad faith and empty political posturing as ours, it's always fun to expose blatant hypocrisy. That's why the story of the St. Thomas More Hospital lawsuit is ripping through the Internet. It's a sad one, really: Lori Stodghill, seven months pregnant, was admitted to the hospital with a blocked artery that killed her and the two fetuses inside her. The plaintiff, her husband, Jeremy Stodghill, is claiming that because her doctor didn't answer his pages, the twins died unnecessarily and could have been rescued through an emergency C-section, even if Lori's life couldn't be saved. The hospital's defense, so far successful, is to claim that because the twins were fetuses and not people, this can't legally be viewed as a wrongful-death situation.

Of course, the problem is that the hospital is run by Catholic Health Initiatives—Catholic, as in that religion whose leadership routinely claims that not only are fetuses people, but so are embryos, zygotes, and fertilized eggs.
That claim is used to turn women into sacrificial lambs for the faith, denying them not just elective abortions but telling them that it's not OK to terminate pregnancies where there's no chance of producing a live baby. Women who go to Catholic hospitals in these situations have been denied procedures to save their fertility or even their lives. But, as this lawsuit shows, the passionate belief that anything post-fertilization is a "person" evaporates the second it stops being useful as a way to oppress women (and the second it starts possibly costing the Catholic hospital money).

So, cries of hypocrisy are justified and outrage understandable. Still, anyone who really thought that proponents of the fetus-as-person line ever really cared about "life" was being incredibly naive. The church romanticizes needless suffering through pregnancy for women, offering sainthood to women who die rather than take a doctor's advice to stop getting pregnant. And if the church actually thought an embryo was the same thing as a person, it would demand free birth control for all in the interest of preventing murder. Instead it fights against contraception access.

Interestingly, this case reflects the more nuanced understanding that most people, especially pro-choice people, have regarding fetal development. While hardline religious anti-choicers use the "can it be used to oppress women?" measurement to determine if it's a person or not in there, ordinary people tend to agree with the justices in Roe v. Wade that it starts off as not-a-person and gradually becomes one over months, gaining more moral consideration in the later months of pregnancy. This is why 88 percent of abortions are in the first 12 weeks, a percentage that would be even higher if women weren't delayed by anti-choice laws and harassment from getting timelier abortions. Only 1.5 percent of abortions occur after 20 weeks, even though elective abortion is legal up to 24 weeks in much of the country.

Stodghill's pregnancy was seven months along, and despite anti-choice propaganda to the contrary, women at that stage of pregnancy don't suddenly wake up one day and decide to terminate. Most women, even super pro-choice women, feel much differently about a seven-month pregnancy than an eight-week pregnancy, even if the Catholic Church doesn't seem to see any difference at all.

Sauce (Slate)

also the article referenced by Slate at Huffington Post

I am a bit late to the party with this one (the story is almost a couple of weeks old now). nevertheless...colour. me. shocked. also, the comments at the source are okay!

tagged as opinion piece because of article's tone.
soliano 4th-Feb-2013 01:04 pm (UTC)
Wrongful death is a creature of statute and by law the fetuses were not covered by that act. My understanding is that part of the motivation in this matter is for the Church to get the definitions expanded so that personhood covers more who are as yet unborn.
ljtaylor 4th-Feb-2013 01:10 pm (UTC)
yeah, they are adhering to the law. but I am gathering that the outrage centres on catholics who are quite happy to try and pull the personhood card when it involves infringing on women's freedom of choice, but will back down and accept the law for what it is if it saves them money.

however, given the sources I am willing to admit the ol' liberal bias could be an actual thing here.
soliano 4th-Feb-2013 01:22 pm (UTC)
Again, from what I have read they are pushing for an expansion of the personhood thing by pushing how arbitrary the law is. So, if that is to be believed, it i not so cynical as saving money.
ljtaylor 4th-Feb-2013 01:53 pm (UTC)
ah, my apologies for misunderstanding you the first time. wellll, at least they ARE consistent, I suppose
cinnamontoast 4th-Feb-2013 03:37 pm (UTC)
That is disturbing. The hypocrisy will be a thing forgotten if they can get their statute. The money that they pay to the gentleman who lost his wife and twins will be the price they pay for the longed for legislation.

I hope that the judge who writes the decision in this has the good sense to couch it in terms that will describe the loss of the twins not as a loss of actual living, breathing children, but as a loss of hopes and dreams for the father.

I'm so tired of religious entities meddling in the lives of women who have nothing to do with them.
seashell_bikini 4th-Feb-2013 01:53 pm (UTC)
I love it. It's a person until they are at fault then they backtrack. So much for sticking to your beliefs.
stupidforyou 4th-Feb-2013 02:20 pm (UTC)
On the one hand, I love that their hypocrisy is getting attention, but on the other hand I don't want the husband to win on this specific charge because I'm paranoid that this would become a statute and make it easier for personhood bills to get pushed through. Don't get me wrong, he deserves to win on a case of neglect or malpractice or something, but this is too close to something the anti-choice community is already pushing.
ljtaylor 4th-Feb-2013 02:22 pm (UTC)
you have a valid point :(
emofordino 4th-Feb-2013 05:44 pm (UTC)
IA. the doctor should absolutely be liable for not making himself available while on call and he should be held responsible for malpractice. but yeah, being charged with wrongful death could be used to strengthen the anti-choice laws they've been pushing for years. :/
ohmiya_sg 4th-Feb-2013 04:38 pm (UTC)
The story was posted a while ago, with a different source.
ljtaylor 4th-Feb-2013 04:56 pm (UTC)
oops. thanks for letting me know, I didn't see that!
pimmie 4th-Feb-2013 06:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's hypocrisy at it's finest, but it's also a calculated move by the church. If they play the case this way, they win either way. If the courts say "yes, it's a person" then they get the judicial ammunition for their anti-choice movement. If the court says "it's not a person", they don't have to pay up. So win/win. I think the shadiness and calculation over a life is the highlight of this over the hypocrisy. They don't actually care about life, but about furthering a cause for the sake of it.
brbsb 4th-Feb-2013 07:35 pm (UTC)
I posted this article on Facebook and, of course, all of the anti-choicers are completely ignoring the fact that the Catholic church is being incredibly hypocritical and instead are focusing on "OMG abortion is evil! Stop calling us anti-choicers because you're anti-LIFE!"

So much for ever having a real discussion about anything.

EDIT: Also tried to point out that someone couldn't claim to be pro-life and support the death penalty, but that of course also got ignored.

Edited at 2013-02-04 07:36 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - Anonymous
brbsb 4th-Feb-2013 10:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, I did know that they oppose the death penalty, but it amazes me how many people claim to be "pro-life" (including the person I was arguing with) yet support the death penalty! Completely agree on everything else...every time my very Catholic best friend posts another status about "think of all the dead babies," I want to yell at her that there'd be more of them if abortion WASN'T legal.
world_dancer 4th-Feb-2013 08:22 pm (UTC)
This is the straw that broke my back as far as faith is concerned.

How can the church expect me to believe if even they don't believe what they're saying?

I disagree on the matter of choice, since I think every woman should have the freedom to choose what to do with her own body.

But I'd have more respect if the church just paid up because it believes it has done wrong. That's what it's supposed to do.
eyetosky 4th-Feb-2013 08:27 pm (UTC)
But seriously, where the hell was the damn doctor? None of the articles I've looked for have said.
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