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Saved 1/23/13 to Citizen 4.0

In malpractice case, Catholic hospital argues fetuses aren’t people


Lori Stodghill was 31-years old, seven-months pregnant with twin boys and feeling sick when she arrived at St. Thomas More hospital in Cañon City on New Year’s Day 2006. She was vomiting and short of breath and she passed out as she was being wheeled into an examination room. Medical staff tried to resuscitate her but, as became clear only later, a main artery feeding her lungs was clogged and the clog led to a massive heart attack. 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.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Stodghill’s husband Jeremy, a prison guard, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couple’s then-two-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Staples should have made it to the hospital, his lawyers argued, or at least instructed the frantic emergency room staff to perform a caesarian-section. The procedure likely would not have saved the mother, a testifying expert said, but it may have saved the twins.

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. Those rules have stirred controversy for decades, mainly for forbidding non-natural birth control and abortions. “Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death,’” the directives state. “The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”

The directives can complicate business deals for Catholic Health, as they can for other Catholic health care providers, partly by spurring political resistance. In 2011, the Kentucky attorney general and governor nixed a plan in which Catholic Health sought to merge with and ultimately gain control of publicly funded hospitals in Louisville. The officials were reacting to citizen concerns that access to reproductive and end-of-life services would be curtailed. According to The Denver Post, similar fears slowed the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth’s plan over the last few years to buy out Exempla Lutheran Medical Center and Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in the Denver metro area.

But 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.

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stephley stephley 1 year 33 weeks
No, the article does not "clearly" say the mother's death was unavoidable - it says "The procedure likely would not have saved the mother" LIKELY WOULD NOT: if the weather service says it likely will not rain, that is not a guarantee of a sunny day. The article goes on to say it was possible that an emergency c-section could have saved the twins, but there was no obstetrician on hand to direct the ER staff, even though there was one on call. Your reading comprehension skills are as narrow and dull as ever. As is your comprehension of the legal choice the Church has made. If the court rules in favor of the Church, it re-affirms Colorado law that the fetus is not human. It solidifies precedent contrary to Church teaching, in order to save the Church money. It solidifies the standard in malpractice cases that a dead fetus is less costly than a living, possibly damaged, baby. By supporting this, the church (& you) reveal the ignorance & hypocrisy behind your insistence that all women be bound by your alleged religious & moral standards: you withhold the option to toss those ‘standards’ whenever there is a chance those standards will cost anyone but the woman. And, as always, you resort to vulgar insult.
UnDave35 UnDave35 1 year 33 weeks
LOL!!!! What does the article say again? The article clearly says that the mother's death was unavoidable. The question isn't what the church believes, it's what the law is. When it comes to a baseless lawsuit like this one, I agree with using any current law on the books in the defense. Nevermind, YOU can't seem to get your head out of your ass, so there isn't a point in a discussion.
stephley stephley 1 year 33 weeks
Where's the accident? No one says 'the doctor could not have save here, even if he'd been standing in the ER waiting for her' except you. And the doctor who's job it was to be standing there didn't bother to come in. More importantly here, the Catholic Church's alleged doctrine is that live begins at conception, so regardless of anything else, the Catholic hospital is violating its alleged belief in order to save money, to win a lawsuit - and you seem okay with that. If the Church wins, the Colorado will rule that the fetus is not a person - so what has been the point of all the pronunciations and marches and screaming about the Administration forcing religions to act against doctrine? Apparently, money trumps doctrine.
UnDave35 UnDave35 1 year 33 weeks
"Medical staff tried to resuscitate her but, as became clear only later, a main artery feeding her lungs was clogged and the clog led to a massive heart attack. " Sometimes heart attacks happen. The point your missing is the doctor could not have saved her, even if he'd been standing in the ER waiting for her, according to the article. Was the doctor negligent? No. Was the ER staff negligent? No. SO, the only "people" that could possibly have been saved are potentially the twins, but they aren't considered people yet, because they weren't "people" while in the womb.
stephley stephley 1 year 33 weeks
"Stodghill’s obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, who also happened to be the obstetrician ON CALL FOR EMERGENCIES that night, never answered a page." The doctor had a professional responsibility to the hospital and a separate professional responsibility to his patient to respond to calls that night. He neglected to fulfill his professional responsibilities to anyone: not an accident. Does the insurance company you represent consider a heart attack to be "accidental" death? There's nothing in the article that suggests anything outside the mother caused the heart attack, which is generally necessary for a heart attack death to be considered accidental.
UnDave35 UnDave35 1 year 33 weeks
"Lori Stodghill was 31-years old, seven-months pregnant with twin boys and feeling sick when she arrived at St. Thomas More hospital in Cañon City on New Year’s Day 2006. She was vomiting and short of breath and she passed out as she was being wheeled into an examination room. Medical staff tried to resuscitate her but, as became clear only later, a main artery feeding her lungs was clogged and the clog led to a massive heart attack. 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. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Stodghill’s husband Jeremy, a prison guard, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couple’s then-two-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Staples should have made it to the hospital, his lawyers argued, or at least instructed the frantic emergency room staff to perform a caesarian-section. The procedure likely would not have saved the mother, a testifying expert said, but it may have saved the twins." Sounds like an accidental death of the mom to me. But I understand, Doctors should be god-like, and live at the hospital 24-7, just in case....
stephley stephley 1 year 33 weeks
It's the anti-abortion, life begins at conception, the government shouldn't tell religions what to do, church being hypocritical. The church has vilified the administration over the rights of the unborn, abortion & contraception, insisting that there's no wiggle room in its doctrine, until apparently, church money is at risk. Other legal arguments were possible against malpractice charges, but the church allowed its lawyers to go this route. If the Colorado supreme court takes the case and rules in favor of the church, the church has taken the side of, and strengthened a position it has damned for years. What "accident" killed anyone in this story? The doctor never showed up-that's not an accident.
UnDave35 UnDave35 1 year 33 weeks
Frivolous - the woman most likely couldn't have been saved. Unborn. Part of the reason for the lawsuit is that the unborn could've been saved. the law is that doctors are protected from liability concerning the unborn. the hypocrisy is that when a woman wants an abortion, those unborn children are nothing, but now that they died as the result of an unfortunate accident, they are people, and it's the doctor's fault. So, which is it? Are they (the fetus) human beings all the time, or are they not, all the time?
stephley stephley 1 year 33 weeks
FRIVOLOUS? A woman died. What does 'inborn people' mean? Are they not what? What laws who has pushed for? Hypocrite has an 'e' at the end. All this time off has worsened your ability to communicate.
UnDave35 UnDave35 1 year 33 weeks
Yeah. This is why you are a hypocrit. Are the inborn people, or are they not? The laws you have pushed for have deemed them not, and now they are being used against a defendant in a frivolous lawsuit. You can't have it both ways.