The Catholic Church preaches that life begins at conception, but according to a Catholic health care company in Colorado, fetuses are not people.
Jeremy Stodghill’s wife, Lori, died on New Year’s Day in 2006, while pregnant with twin boys. She was 28 weeks pregnant when she began vomiting and having shortness of breath. Jeremy and Lori went to the emergency room of St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City, Colo., where Lori went into cardiac arrest.
Jeremy said, “Lori looked up at me, and then her head went down on her chest.”
Lori and the twin boys died, leaving Jeremy as the sole provider and parent for then 2-year-old daughter Libby. Stodghill decided to sue the hospital and the hospital’s owner, Catholic Health Initiatives, for the wrongful death of his wife and twin boys.
After two years of litigation, the defense attorneys and the doctors are arguing that under state law, an embryo is not a person until it is born alive. The Stodghill twins were lifeless fetuses when they were removed from their mother, and therefore, are not considered to be people.
The courts agreed with the defense’s argument and Stodghill lost the suit. The defendants then decided to sue Stodghill for $118,000 in legal fees and tried to garnish his wages. The defendants offered to forgive the fees if Stodghill dropped his appeal, but he refused.
Struggling to provide for now 9-year-old Libby, Stodghill filed bankruptcy to avoid having to pay the fees. He has petitioned for the Colorado Supreme Court to hear his case and is still waiting to hear from the Catholic Church.
The defense’s argument is in contradiction from the beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church. Representatives of the Catholic bishops of Colorado have not commented on the legal proceedings but will review Catholic Health Initiative “to ensure fidelity and faithful witness to the teachings of the Catholic Church.” Catholic Health Initiatives said in a statement, “In this case…as Catholic organizations, (we) are in union with the moral teachings of the Church.”
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