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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Catholic Hospital Legal Defense: Fetuses Are Not People

St. Thomas More Hospital provides 24-hour emergency and acute care in Cañon City, Colo. (St. Thomas More Hospital)

St. Thomas More Hospital provides 24-hour emergency and acute care in Cañon City, Colo. (St. Thomas More Hospital)

St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City, Colo. is being sued for the wrongful deaths of a woman and her unborn twins.

The woman was seven months pregnant in 2006, when she came into the hospital in feeling sick. She had a heart attack and died, as did the twins.

The woman’s husband sued, arguing that if the hospital had performed a c-section, the children would have survived.

The hospital says it cannot be held liable for the deaths of the twins because under state law, fetuses are not people.

“In this case, we have a law that violates church teachings, but they’re complying with the law because it’s to their advantage in the lawsuit. So that’s what’s got people upset,” religion reporter Bob Smietana told Here & Now. “One of the issues here is this is a $1.4 billion company. So they’re a giant healthcare provider, but they’re also a Catholic ministry. And so these two things collided here.”


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  • J__o__h__n

    Where is Operation Rescue? 

  • JPS

    Before the development of the brain in the third trimester (in its relation to pain experience), a fetus should be subject to a moral analysis akin to the nonhuman sphere of life dignity (e.g. animal). This thesis excludes all spiritual appeals and defines human existence in biological frameworks alone. Just a perspective to consider this issue from if you like a moral thought experiment.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

    The pregnant woman didn’t die from a heart attack.  She had a high risk pregnancy, weighed 400 lbs, and had a pulmonary embolism a few days after she took a long plane flight.  Neither the hospital or the physician is in any way liable for her death and there is no grounds for a lawsuit in her wrongful death.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      Funny then they take the stance that fetuses are not people, when there are so many other mitigating circumstance.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

         Well, the lawsuits were dismissed, but the husband is appealing the decision regarding the children.  The wife’s lawsuit was a no-win from the beginning, but I think he might have a case to make for the twins.

        The fact is, if they lived closer to sea level and had gone to a large hospital with a full time staff and a NICU there is a good chance the kids could have been saved.  But, at a small hospital where the staff isn’t in house, there was virtually no chance to save the kids.

    • amaranth16

      “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.”


      According to the article above, the lawsuit doesn’t allege that her death could have been prevented; the wrongful deaths they’re asserting were those of the twins. I’m no lawyer, but I’d be mad as hell if I were the family.

    • It

      Navin that can’t be right. A quality news program like Here and Now would never leave out the facts like that.

  • DZerach

    Ah, secretive Catholic Church, you always show your true colors, that’s why we love you.  Where’s the deus ex machina, the pope, when you need him. 

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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