The Catholic Church is ardently pro-life, this is simply due to the fact that they believe life begins at conception and personhood is established as soon as the egg is fertilised. You will never see labels such as “embryo”, “blastocyst” or “fetus” in their pro-life literature. Instead you will find terms such as “unborn child” and “unborn baby”; in essence, the only distinction that is made between a blastocyst and an actual baby is the fact that one hasn’t been born yet; the unborn child should enjoy the same rights as the baby which has been born, regardless of what stage the pregnancy is at. However, this stance was quickly dropped when there was a risk of a law suit, as reported by the Colorado Independent.
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.
Her husband decided to file a lawsuit for wrongful death as Dr. Staples should have either made it to the hospital or relayed instructions to carry out a caesarian to save the twins. The defendant is Catholic Health Initiatives, an organisation which oversees 170 facilities across the US. The Catholic Health attorneys have decided to completely ignore Church doctrine and argue that the twins were merely fetuses so they are not covered in the Wrongful Death Act.
Jason Langley, an attorney with Denver-based Kennedy Childs, argued in one of the briefs he filed for the defense, the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”
The Church had an opportunity to stand by their convictions and be principled. Instead they decided to abandon a core belief simply because it was inconvenient and may cost them some money.