Life begins at conception, according to the Catholic Church, but in a wrongful death suit in Colorado, a Catholic health care company has argued just the opposite. A fetus is not legally a person until it is born, the hospital’s lawyers have claimed in its defense. And now it may be up to the state’s Supreme Court to decide.
‘Unborn twin boys’
Lori Stodghill was 28 weeks pregnant when she went to the emergency room of St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City vomiting and short of breath, according to a court document. She went into cardiac arrest in the lobby. She died at age 31. Her unborn twin boys perished with her. That was New Year’s Day 2006.
Jeremy Stodghill, Lori’s husband, left behind to raise their then-2-year-old daughter alone, sued the hospital and its owner, Catholic Health Initiatives, for the wrongful deaths of all three. After about two years of litigation, defense attorneys for the hospital and doctors entered an argument that shocked the widower.
‘Not person until it is born alive’
They said that under state law, an embryo is not person until it is born alive, according to court documents. The Stodghills’ twins were deceased when they were removed from their mother’s lifeless body. The court agreed with the argument, and Stodghill lost the suit. The court also ruled against Stodghill in the case of his wife for other legal reasons.
The hospital and doctors then sued him for over $118,000 legal fees and attempted to garnish his wages, according to a legal document filed on his behalf. The defendants offered to forget the fees if Stodghill dropped his appeal. He refused and filed for bankruptcy to avoid having to pay the claim, which he says he can’t afford as he struggles to raise his now-9-year-old daughter, Libby. Stodghill has petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to hear his case, and he’d like to hear from the Catholic Church.
Do you agree with the statement “A fetus is not legally a person until it is born”? Was Jeremy Stodghill supposed to win this lawsuit regarding the death of his pregnant wife and unborn twins?
Source: Ben Brumfield and Kyung Lah, CNN
Image: KSWT News