Skip to comments.In malpractice case, Catholic hospital argues fetuses arenít people
Posted on 01/24/2013 10:53:50 AM PST by LonelyCon
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 Years 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. Stodghills 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, Stodghills husband Jeremy, a prison guard, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couples 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 organizations 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 Churchs defense of life encompasses the unborn.
But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Healths 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 Healths 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.
Will they give this Catholic facility -- and those who are the Catholic hierarchical liaisons with such entities -- strong, ferverent, and intensive feedback?
Or silence? Tolerance? And by such, silent affirmation that to this Catholic entity, the pre-born are non-entities with no legal rights???
“Crickets of silence from the so-called Catholic “pro-lifers.” “
So are you implying that FR Catholics aren’t pro life?
The Church is not the one making the statement ... it’s a so-called Catholic hospital that is trying to cover it’s rear.
And they’re wrong.
Let me get this straight...
Catholic = life at conception - fetus is a person
Catholic = ani-abortion
But now that there is a lawsuit they could lose, for convenience sake -
Catholic = fetus is not life/people?
And “church” folks wonder why the world thinks they are a bunch of hypocrites (applies to all denominations).
Ya, well Catholic Health Iniitiatives supported Obamacare, even applauding the Supreme Court decision; not really faithful the Church doctrine in my book (mandating contraception coverage). However, if you’d like to argue that the U.S. Catholic Bishops should fought universal healthcare, instead of trying to make a deal with the devil, I’d support you on that.
If the hospital loses the case based on this argument, think about what precedent it sets.
Well, I’m divided on this one.
Yes, the Catholic Church teaches that an unborn baby is still a human being.
But this is a lawyer defending against a lawsuit, not a Catholic theologian who is speaking. And not a doctor who is excusing abortions. Yes, he represents a Catholic hospital, but his job is to win the case. And he is correct to imply that the law says that a fetus is not a human being—even though it is.
No babies are killed by his saying this. No babies are threatened, either. If the lawyer prevails, the only result is that the hospital won’t have to pay up a couple of million bucks to this husband.
It was a tragic death, but I’m not persuaded that it was the hospital’s fault. An hour’s delay for the doctor to show up? They need to look into the reasons, but they could be reasonable. Evidently there was no chance for the woman, and the unborn children’s lives really depended on hitting an emergency room where someone could act almost instantly. If you’ve ever been to an emergency room, I’m afraid that’s not very likely. A matter of luck, really. Not something to make the hospital pay for, unless there are factors not hinted at in the article.
You're really jumping the gun on that "crickets" accusation. Your behaviour reflects very badly on you.
Quite simply put, this is the first I have heard of "Catholic" Health Initiatives alleged misbehaviour. Alleged because at this moment, I only know about it from you. And frankly, sir, you're an impeached witness.
Now, I'll have a look.
You are the mist hatefull and twisted soul I have ever encountered on CB. No wonder the LSD kicked you out.
If all of this is the case, then there's no reason to go into the "unborn babies aren't people" argument. I realize that the lawyer is doing his job ... but his client needs to remind him who and what he's representing.
Now ... I looked up Catholic Health Initiative ... interesting bunch. There are NO clerics in their National Leadership or Board of Stewardship Trustees. There are a half dozen or so sisters from a list of Participating Congregations, the overwhelming majority of which are unhabited, elderly sisters ... ie. '60s left-over 'social justice' types. This does not bode well, and strongly suggests (to me) a critical lack of authentically Catholic oversight.
They deserve rebuke, IMO, for giving scandal. This argument that the law doesn't define unborn as people, therefore you can't sue us does come across as hypocritical.
Not to take away your obvious passion on the matter -- and we all have made typos, especially me -- but this did lead to a chuckle. I know what you meant and my intent is certainly not to mock but it did provide a bit of humor on an otherwise bleak day.
The legal decision of whether they are “people” is decided by law, not the opinion of the church.
A hospital shouldn’t wait on a page to a doctor when a patient is critical.
“No wonder the LSD kicked you out.”
Definitions of what’s people are flexible when money is involved. The more money, the more flexible.
I'm Catholic, prolife, and worked in Catholic healthcare most of my adult life. I have no knowledge of this case except what's in the article. The questions that come to my mind are: 1-How was the hospital linked with the attorney representing them? and 2-Does their malpractice policy give them any choice in this matter?
Thanks be to God, I have never been sued. If that were to happen though, I would be assigned an attorney by my malpractice insurance carrier. No doubt my attorney would listen to me and the defense I'd like him to mount on my behalf. But my policy states that the final decision is his NOT mine. If I do not like the defense my assigned attorney decides is the best strategy, I am free to get my own lawyer but his fees won't be covered. Nor will my policy cover any damages if I lose or settle. And if my assigned attorney decides to settle out of court, giving me the appearance of admission of wrongdoing, I have little opportunity to clear my name under my policy. And probably will have to sign something NOT to discuss the case further.
So for me this article raises more questions than it answers. Before I condemn them I'd want to know what, if any, flexibility their policy has for a Catholic defense in situations where a nonCatholic one is judged more likely to succeed. And I'd want to know if they turned down coverage that would have presented a defense consistent with Catholic teaching in this type of case. The article refers to a private legal practice, so I am going on the assumption that the attorneys have been assigned the case by the malpractice insurance carrier covering the hospital or the physician. Nothing in the article leads me to believe the attorneys are employed by the hospital or its parent organization.
Whatever the answers to my questions, I would hope that this hospital and its parent organization would take time to assess some critical areas! 1- Do they have Catholics faithful to the magisterium in critical decision-making positions? 2- Have they secured the BEST (which may not be most cost effective) malpractice coverage for a CATHOLIC facility? By "best" I mean coverage that will contractually agree to a Catholic defense IF such coverage is available to them. 3- Did anyone in the organization go against Catholic teaching to influence the attorney's defense in the direction it's taken? If so, time to relieve these folks of their responsibilities. 4- How do they further a prolife message after this debacle however much or little it was under their direct control?
Finally, I offer my heartfelt prayers for the surviving family, for medical staff that were likely traumatized by inability to save life in this situation, for those responsible for steering this facility in a genuinely Catholic direction, and for the eternal repose of those who died.
Peace be with you.
Wow, projection on display.
This is why I no longer work in Catholic healthcare. I keep wishing that God would raise up a mighty order to get back into our healthcare facilities and set thing aright. So many are run by essentially secular groups that want the "Catholic" label but not the fidelity to Catholic teaching.
They deserve rebuke, IMO, for giving scandal
They have certainly given scandal! I'm just not certain from the article where the source of scandal lies. Is the attorney carrying out the defense the hospital wants him to? Who directed this defense?
Because of pending litigaton the hospital probably cannot speak out. But someone sure ought to!
Yes, I didn’t look them up, but I suspected this might be one of those heterodox “Catholic” hospital organizations.
Still, I suspect that there are a hundred other things you could fault them for that are worse than this. Either this organization or one very much like it, for instance, backed Obamacare, from what I remember. The nun who headed the outfit spoke out on that—I just don’t recall her name.
Maybe I just don’t have a high opinion of lawyers, but if this will win the case and prevent someone from sucking a few millions more from a Catholic charity—even a faulty Catholic charity—then I can’t object too strongly. I don’t think it will set any legal precedents that haven’t been set a thousand times before by our opponents, and nobody is actually offering to kill a baby.
Theres something more going on. By arguing that the law says that the twins are not human beings, the hospital forces the court to make a legal decision that is win-win for the hospital: either the court upholds the law and the hospital is held not liable, or the hospital loses (and pays) and unborn children are legally recognized as human beings.
It is certainly true that the law doesnt recognize any rights for the fetus. Thats not a should argument, but an is argument. If one wants to set a precedent ultimately strengthening anti-abortion legal arguments, this is the correct way to go about it. Out-of-court settlements and agreed dispositions dont set precedent.
This may not be whats going on at all, but I wouldnt be surprised at all if it is.
Sheesh. Check the evience before you opine, OK?
One other thing: the Trayvon Martin coverage should be a good warning to people not to put too much trust in the medias account of a case, especially at the outset. This article goes out of its way to talk about how rich the hospital and its parent association are, perhaps to set up a David-vs-Goliath dramatic element. We dont know, from the article, virtually any of the details about why the doctor didnt respond, what information the mother gave at the hospital, or whether the hospital has already offered some huge amount and this was rejected.
We also dont know, unless we have read the pleadings, whether the article is fairly summarizing the hospitals argument. Personally, I doubt it --- unless I see more evidence.
Or at least, it's not clear from this article.
Having been named in a lawsuit, the hospital is required to respond with a legal argument. Perhaps it would have been better to say As a Catholic hospital, we absolutely know that life begins at conception, but the law of Colorado does not recognize a fetus as a human being, but the first half of that statement is not a legal argument and doesnt, technically speaking, belong in a court pleading.
What if the hospital didn't do anything wrong? If that's the case (and we have only the fathers claim, as relayed by an inflammatory article), then should they just skip legal argument, and pay money to the father regartdless of their own innocense? Is that just?
Based on the information we have, it is entirely possible that the hospital did everything in its power to save the lives and that it bears no fault. It is also possible that the father, wracked with grief (and conceivably even guilt), wants money to soothe his conscience or whatever. We really dont know. If so, however, the (inevitable) millions paid by the hospital would be money not available for maintaining good treatment standards, hiring excellent doctors and staff, and so on. It would also mean that anyone, no matter how dishonest their claim, could get free money from this hospital.
It comes down to this: facts and law are not the same thing. It is possible to be entirely good and yet legally liable, and also to be thoroughly malicious and yet not break any laws. That these twins were living human beings is a fact, but that Colorado doesnt recognize this is the law.
This is win-win (or at least, win-draw) for the pro-life cause, ecause if the court "finds" that the babies were "human" --- wich they should --- that sets an enormously important precedent for pro-life; but if not, the hospital can still argue "on the merits" that they didn't do anything wrong. IF that was the case.
We need more information on that, don't we?
What an EXCELLENT way to put it! An argument that restates current law isn't an argument stating what current law should be. That said, it's hard to imagine that the potential for scandal wasn't foreseen. This reflects horribly on Catholic healthcare and it's unfortunate that someone in a position of leadership isn't speaking out to clarify.
I used to work in a health care facility which had a Protestant denominational name. The church had nothing to do with the facility not even in the hired Chaplain. It was a name used to attract business. It was a retirement community and nursing home.
Ok in this article what seems to be the issues as to why the hospital is liable is the fact the Specialist on call did not answer his page. My question would be did he even receive it? We are talking about a communications system that is USUALLY reliable but certainly not 100% and has many factors in it working properly some of which can not be controlled.
Second thing comes to mind is his. Medicine has become so high tech and specialized today that ER Physicians can not risk doing task doctors 40 years ago would not have given second thought in acting. But there wsn't ambulance chasers running adds on TV either. It was before the collapse of ethics in our legal system.
The doctor that delivered me into this world 55 years ago and my sister 60 years ago was was the family doctor me, sis, mom, dad and Mamaw, had as adults till he retired. He was also a General Surgeon and at one point Chief of Staff at the hospital. If you needed an operation he did it. He stopped delivering babies I think in about 1970 as well as doing any surgery. He was also my second wife's primary care and dealt with her onset of quadriplegia.
Had the attending ER docs tried to take the babies in this case even at the dads consent and the attempt failed the legal outcome likely would be the same. Specialized medicine has been a blessing and a curse and it limits doctors as to what they can and can not do even though they may have the skills.
Malpractice happens too. That is where doctors do not do warranted procedures or testing obviously called for due to symptoms. If I was the lawsuit kind my wife and I would be well off today money wise. LOL. Doctors are human though.
I hate android’s auto correct!!
They don’t want to get rid of abortion - so they stay under the law of men as it is now defined. However, doctors do know when life begins and it is not rocket science. Roe/Wade needs to be addressed to discount that lie. Why doesn’t the CHI have one of those doctors at the link enter into their case. If they really wanted to win, they would. So without checking them out like you did, I can see they are on the side of evil.
(Sorry...but never was a Mormon...which means you are a false accuser...something that you have in common with a certain fella named Lucifer, eh?)