Catholic bishops to review hospital's defense on fetuses

(Photo: Reuters/Mykhailo Markiv)The silouhette of a pregnant woman's stomach is seen in a file photo.

 Three Catholic bishops in Colorado say they will review litigation involving a Catholic hospital which has been accused of undermining the church's position on human life after arguing in court that fetuses are not people.

The Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Denver, along with the bishops of Colorado Springs and Pueblo issued a statement saying that could not comment on ongoing legal disputes.

"However, we will undertake a full review of this litigation, and of the policies and practices of Catholic Health Initiatives to ensure fidelity and faithful witness to the teachings of the Catholic Church," the bishops wrote.

Jeremy Stodghill filed, and lost, a wrongful-death suit in District Court in Fremont County after his wife, Lori, 28 weeks pregnant died of cardiac arrest in the lobby of an emergency room of St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City in 2006. She came into the hospital vomiting and short of breath, according to a court document.

Lori was pregnant with unborn twin boys. Colorado law states a fetus is not legally a person until birth.

Stodghill has asked the state's Supreme Court to hear an appeal.

In their statements, the bishops refer to "the deaths of Lori Stoghill and her two unborn children," and extended condolences to her surviving family.

They reiterated the church's view that "from the moment of conception, human beings are endowed with dignity and with fundamental rights, the most foundational of which is life."

They said Catholics and Catholic institutions had a duty to "protect and foster human life, and to witness to the dignity of the human person—particularly to the dignity of the unborn. No Catholic institution may legitimately work to undermine fundamental human dignity."

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