Catholic Hospital: Fetuses Aren't People

In 2006 Lori Stodghill, who was pregnant with twins, died of a heart attack at St. Thomas More Hospital in Cañon City, Colorado. The ER staff paged her obstetrician, Pelham Staples, but he never responded, so her unborn twins also died.

Stodghill’s husband Jeremy filed a wrongful-death suit against Staples, saying he should have either come to the hospital or instructed the staff on duty to perform an emergency C-section that would have saved the twins.

Defending attorney Jason Langley argued in a brief he filed on behalf of the hospital chain that 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.”

Legally, he is, of course, correct. Ethically, though, it is massively hypocritical for the Catholic Church to claim that not only abortion but contraception are unacceptable because personhood begins at conception, only to claim innocence of malpractice because the “fetuses” they allowed to die don’t count as people.

Church officials now say they’re looking into the matter. Someone do me a favor and calculate the odds that their finding is: “Yes, we let two people die when we could have saved them. Here is a big pile of money, Jeremy Stodghill.”