Oh how interesting. Catholic hospitals don’t always say that a fetus is a person. For instance, how about when an on-call obstetrician doesn’t answer the page when a pregnant woman is in the ER having a heart attack and she ends up dying? And then her husband files a wrongful death suit?
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.
You know, the Ethical and Religious Directives that say St Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix did a wicked wicked thing by terminating a pregnancy to save the woman’s life. Those Ethical and Religious Directives.
…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.”
To be fair, maybe Catholic Health isn’t being hypocritical; maybe Catholic Health, like the administration of St Joseph’s Hospital, refuses to obey the bishops on this issue.
Who knows. There shouldn’t be any ambiguity on the subject either way. The Ethical and Religious Directives should be a dead letter.