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Catholic hospital argue that a fetus is not a person

by grimgraphix / January 26, 2013 6:33 AM PST

Expectant mother dies in ER, along with her unborn twins....

The husband... 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.

They [the lawyers for the Catholic organization] 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.

Catholics win in court, AND THEN COUNTERSUE the widower!

Catholic Health Initiatives would not speak to CNN on camera, but said in a statement, "In this case... as Catholic organizations, (we) are in union with the moral teachings of the Church."

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a ploy for his dropping appeal
by Roger NC / January 26, 2013 6:52 AM PST

legal manuevering.

It's not unheard of if you sue and lose the other side winning reimbursement cost in defending the case.

Never be surprise at a legal argument. They have nothing do with logic, reason, morals, or convictions. Whatever works, it's the lawyers job to win for his client, whatever it takes that is barely legal.

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Maybe it's just the pits
by Steven Haninger / January 26, 2013 9:44 PM PST

when the only thing that will stand up in court is secular law forcing all players to stay within it. I don't know what the plaintiff was asking for as the article is very light on details. It doesn't say what the husband was asking for.

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(NT) very true, lack of details
by Roger NC / January 26, 2013 9:58 PM PST
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And this just in. Jeremy Stodghill, the father and husband
by Ziks511 / January 28, 2013 8:58 AM PST

was driven into bankruptcy by the hospital bills for a woman and children who, if Toni is correct, were never admitted to hospital. Talk about a slap in the face.

Just watched the story (Mon, Jan 28, about 7:45 EST) on CNN so I presume it's available on its website.


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That's the part about the story
by James Denison / January 28, 2013 10:49 PM PST

which bothers the most. Was CIH involved in the counter suit? Or was it just the doctor and his lawyer? If CIH, what happened to turning the other cheek?

If I were the Bishops. I'd issue a statement clearly defining the difference between state law under which a case had to be answered, and a statement of what the Catholic church believed in contrary to those state laws. I'd apologize for the situation that developed from it and set up a college fund for the daughter.

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She died of
by TONI H / January 26, 2013 6:52 AM PST

cardiac arrest "IN THE LOBBY".......lack of oxygen to the babies was probably the cause of their deaths as tragic as that was, and it would seem to me that trying to extract them quickly without an operating room nearby and a PICU unit set up to handle them that small would have taken time. I would have to see the court transcript to know if that was the original argument that then got expanded to include state law.....but I have to also make an assumption that they were more concerned with the mother's health emergency and tried to save/revive her and had a terrible choice to make 'on the spot', which normally takes precedence over everything else.

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From reading...
by givemeaname / January 26, 2013 8:12 AM PST
In reply to: She died of

Other websites the main issues was there was supose to be a full time obstetrician at the hospital but there was none. It did not say why they where not there, sick or what.

One can go with out oxygen for 5-8 minutes with out brain damage, more if the body is cold, chest compressions and forced air is what should have been done until a emergency consultation with the head pyhsicians and family done, then go from there. It is not much different then keeping a body alive for organ transplant.

Every one should questions there doctors in an emergency, they like to act like they know it all but do not. If you think sometching is off question it right there do not wait, ask for a 2nd option if warranted.

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It has been done, Toni. But far more telling is a Catholic
by Ziks511 / January 27, 2013 9:56 PM PST
In reply to: She died of

Institution advancing the "personhood at birth argument", and having it successful.

Oh, and did you mean NNICU, Neo-Natal Intensive Care? I've never heard of PICU. While doctors may use the word "Premies", they only do so as to communicate with families, among staff it's Neo-Nates. Just a friendly bit of information to add to your knowledge base.


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The two are the same
by TONI H / January 28, 2013 1:26 AM PST

in 'my' day it was always referred to as the PICU (pronounced pickyou) for Prenatal Intensive Care Unit. Add that to YOUR knowledge base since you could have found it easily, the same way I just did in order to recheck my information.


It's getting really tiresome with you always trying to 'correct' me, Rob........

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I worked in Health Care for 40 years and never heard it
by Ziks511 / January 28, 2013 8:53 AM PST
In reply to: The two are the same

called that. Always the Neo-Natal Unit or the Neo-Natal ICU. Besides working in Emergency Departments and as an EMT, I have worked Neuro-Surgery, Orthopedics, General Medicine and Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, and all of the ICU's (Neuro surgical, Thoracic, Cardiac, Respiratory) though I grant you it was in an adult hospital, the Children's Hospital was across the road. Both my wife and I were friends with a woman who worked Neo-Natal ICU. The only place I didn't work was Maternity. My last years were spent working on ventilators and respiratory equipment for the hospital, and the generic ICU at St. Joseph's Health Centre here in Toronto. Oh, and the Renal Dialysis unit, I worked there too.

Because I was articulate I got along with doctors, to the point that I was asked routinely to set up traction for Orthopedic Patients, and was moved to the Respiratory ICU where I took care of patients for 12 years before moving to the Tech job handling the equipment.

However it is clear that PICU is a term which is in use, I just never ran across it before. So thanks.


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So let me get this straight...
by grimgraphix / January 27, 2013 12:06 PM PST

It is OK for a Catholic school to protest in a court case that religious morality forbids it from funding employee health insurance plans that cover birth control because a sperm and an egg have the potential to become a person.


It is OK for a Catholic hospital to then throw their religious morality away to win a court case by claiming that a fetus is not a person until it is born.

So much for consistency in religious morality. Hopefully though, this will become a precedent used in future court cases where the church wants to claim that a sperm and an egg are people before conception even occurs.

I foresee pharmacists who want to withhold the morning after pill from their customers, damning the lawyers who came up with this strategy and the church which stood aside and let the lawyers win at any cost.

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schools and hospitals are different?
by James Denison / January 27, 2013 2:41 PM PST

It is difficult to reconcile.

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We don't have details of the argument
by Steven Haninger / January 27, 2013 6:11 PM PST

The actual words would be helpful but the title is misleading, Grim. It does not appear that the lawyers argued that the unborn weren't humans but that they cited state law to that effect. Do we know if the plaintiff and his lawyers were arguing for their human rights? I'd also wonder what would happen should the court agree that they are human and allow some reward. That would smack right in the face of the state law and probably bring more controversy than what the media is already trying to make out of it. The other thing not stated is how the wrongful death suit on behalf of the mother was resolved. If it was rejected, the rest of this is moot. It would have needed to be determined that the hospital was somehow negligent and had caused her death or that some accepted procedure was not done that would have saved her life. Again...no details offered in that article. It appears to be simply a jab at the Catholic Church. The church wasn't involved and this organization isn't an extension of it. If anything, it would appear that the hospital's lawyer's pointed out a case that caused legal difficulties in the event of fetal death even if errors occurred.

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RE:The church wasn't involved
by JP Bill / January 27, 2013 6:36 PM PST
The church wasn't involved and this organization isn't an extension of it.

It's a "Catholic Hospital" and the "church" isn't involved?

Our continuum of health care services has grown to match the needs of the community so that our current facility reflects the state-of-the-art technology and medical expertise found in larger, metropolitan areas. As the Sisters were guided by the Rule of St. Benedict more than 60 years ago, so we are today: "Let care be given the sick, that they may be served as Christ."

Our Mission:

We extend the healing ministry of Christ by caring for those who are ill and by nurturing the health of the people in our communities.
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You probably don't understand the structure
by Steven Haninger / January 27, 2013 7:26 PM PST

and I doubt I could explain it to you satisfactorily but here's a little to get you started. Basically, the Catholic Church hierarchy exists partially as a protection entity. It's to protect the original scriptures, apostolic writings and teachings from being altered, misused, abused, improperly translated, etc., etc. The church does not establish various orders of clergy, laity or organizations which claim to adhere to Catholic Church principles. The church hierarchy will "police" those organizations that spring up claiming to be "Catholic", however. Many organizations will go to the higher church to request approval to do work under the banner of following certain principles. They main advantage in gaining church approval is in fundraising ability. If the Catholic Church finds an organization to be faulty in it's work or principles, it will not support their efforts to remain in existence as being "Catholic". The Catholic church is known for many ministries including those to the sick. "Catholic" hospitals spread throughout Europe and the US during the same time the church was growing. These were not built by Rome. They were built largely by orders of sisters and nuns who were self sustaining and had won approval of the church higher ups to serve in their specific ministry.

As for the organization noted in the article, I looked them up and read their history. They followed a similar path. They were not church established but would fall under the same "policing" of the Catholic church by claiming to be formed from and to follow Catholic teaching. That's, in a nutshell, how such organizations happen.

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would fall under the same "policing" of the Catholic church
by JP Bill / January 27, 2013 8:06 PM PST

Sure smells like a "Catholic Hospital" to me.

Do you think if they performed an abortion the "Catholic Church/Vatican" would be silent?

The hospital can do whatever it wants, as long as it's what the Catholic Church wants.

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Let's address the the truthfulness of the OP titile first
by Steven Haninger / January 27, 2013 8:59 PM PST

Did the "Catholic hospital argue (sic) that a fetus is not a person"?

Until that statement can be validated, there's no sense in arguing or speculating any further.

Give me your answer to my question, please.

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RE: Did the "Catholic hospital argue
by JP Bill / January 27, 2013 9:17 PM PST

Did the "Catholic hospital argue (sic) that a fetus is not a person"?

What's the point in discussing what is being argued, when you don't even agree it's "Catholic Hospital"

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??? You're objection?
by Steven Haninger / January 27, 2013 9:45 PM PST

The (sic) means a noted spelling or grammar mistake. I'm suggestion there is a missing "s" in the word "argue". The title appears to be a front end truncating of the article's title so I won't entirely fault the person who presented it.

I've no argument as to the hospital's desire to associate itself with Catholic Church principles and adhere to them.

Will you answer my question now? Is the OP statement absolutely correct? Did the lawyers argue, based on CHI (Catholic) principles that the unborn were not humans.

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Thank you for agreeing it's a "Catholic Hospital"
by JP Bill / January 27, 2013 11:35 PM PST
In reply to: ??? You're objection?

NOW I'll try and find a link stating their lawyers argued that unborns are not humans in this case.

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RE: Did the lawyers argue,
by JP Bill / January 27, 2013 11:54 PM PST
In reply to: ??? You're objection?
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Without further information, JP
by TONI H / January 28, 2013 1:33 AM PST

there is NO evidence that the fetuses died in 'their care'........their primary concern is the MOTHER's life and that is where the concentration and priority would lie for ANY hospital. I would suggest that they spent so much time trying to rescucitate HER that the unborn were secondary. By the time they were forced to give up, the fetuses were no longer viable probably due to lack of oxygen and/or blood flow. Since we don't know what the original arguments were in the case, we only know what the FINAL argument was and that the attorneys relied on STATE law.

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Whether the fetuses were in their care....
by Josh K / January 28, 2013 3:25 AM PST

.....is a separate argument. This thread is about the fact that the hospital is arguing that the fetuses were not human beings, so this Catholic hospital is hiding behind a law that it supposedly disagrees with, because it's in their financial interest.

How very holy of them.

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Holy, holy, holy
by James Denison / January 28, 2013 4:58 AM PST

"An unborn fetus in Jewish law is not considered a person (Heb. nefesh, lit. "soul") until it has been born. The fetus is regarded as a part of the mother's body and not a separate being until it begins to egress from the womb during parturition (childbirth). In fact, until forty days after conception, the fertilized egg is considered as "mere fluid." These facts form the basis for the Jewish legal view on abortion."

Where Catholic and Jewish hospitals have merged, this has been a problem.
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From the more local paper
by Steven Haninger / January 28, 2013 1:41 AM PST

Because of continuing litigation, there will be some things with some people that cannot be discussed. You'll see here that, according to the link, the argument was that state law could not allow the judgement for the plaintiff. The judge or jury couldn't have done so even if not a word was said. That bishops are reviewing the case is SOP. They won't have heard the arguments and may not have access to the transcripts. All they'd be able to look into is whether or not the lawyers claimed to represent the church in any remark about humanness or lack of it on the part of the unborn. It may well have been...and this is just speculation...that such a statement could be made simply to indicate that it was the state's own law that shut the door on the plaintiff.

In reality, it could be good for the Catholic Church if later proceedings reverse the decision and say the fetuses were indeed human beings. Wouldn't that just kill ya? Devil
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(NT) BTW...the answer to my question of you is??
by Steven Haninger / January 28, 2013 1:55 AM PST
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(NT) They argued under Colorado law
by JP Bill / January 28, 2013 3:06 AM PST
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(NT) Similar to St. Paul's appeal to Caesar
by James Denison / January 28, 2013 10:53 PM PST
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But isn't their "being Catholic"......
by Josh K / January 27, 2013 9:44 PM PST

.....the premise for their opposition to the birth control portions of the ACA?

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That's not relevant to the OP
by Steven Haninger / January 27, 2013 9:55 PM PST

which appears to be an attempt to claim hypocrisy. Without knowing the actual statements from both sides in the courtroom it won't be possible to do much more than speculate as to what was actually said. But, as you may have seen, people jump up and down without legitimate reason over many media articles and also without getting much past their title.

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