Catholic bishops in Colorado add clarity to hospital case


The Huffington Post blasted the headline last month: “Catholic Hospital: Fetus Not Legally A Person.”

Our Catholic bishops in Colorado acted immediately when the news hit and investigated exactly what happened. Yesterday, they released a statement. Here is an excerpt:

Evidence indicates that St. Thomas More Hospital undertook all possible efforts to save Lori Stodghill. Medical experts testified to that effect. They also testified that the Stodghill children tragically died before medical care commenced, so an emergency C-section would not have saved them. We have every reason to believe that St. Thomas More Hospital provided excellent and conscientious medical care in this case.

Attorneys for St. Thomas More Hospital argued that because unborn children are not defined as persons under Colorado’s Wrongful Death Act, the law did not permit this lawsuit. We became aware of this tragic situation on Thursday, January 24, 2013. We at once contacted the leadership of CHI for clarification.

CHI was unaware that legal counsel for St. Thomas More had aligned itself with an argument based upon an unjust law. CHI officials have assured us that they believed it was “morally wrong” to make recourse to an unjust law. They have also assured us that they will no longer utilize this unjust law if the case is heard before additional courts.

CHI joins us in our commitment to work for comprehensive change in Colorado’s law, so that the unborn may enjoy the same legal protections as all other persons.

We commend CHI for its rapid acknowledgement of this situation and its commitment to rectifying any harm it may have caused. We join CHI in affirming the fundamental truth that human life, human dignity, and human rights begin at conception. No law can ever mitigate God-given human rights. All Catholic persons and institutions, indeed all men and women of good will, share the solemn responsibility to support efforts aimed at establishing legal protection for the unborn.

I’ll give the Huffington Post some credit. They also covered the statement from the Colorado Catholic Bishops with this headline: “Catholic Hospital: It Was ‘Morally Wrong’ To Argue That A Fetus Is Not A Human In Colorado Court”

I am relieved that the hospital did not dissent from the Church. And I’m glad that the Bishops noted in their statement that harm was created by this legal argument — both to the family of Lori Stodghill and also to all Catholics.

We need to remain vigilant about our Catholic witness to the world about the dignity of all human life.

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Joshua Mercer is a co-founder of, where he serves as Political Director. Mercer previously served as Washington Correspondent for the National Catholic Register and Chairman for Students for Life of America. He lives in Michigan with his wife and six children.

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