The Limits Of Catholic Morality

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

catholic healthOn New Year’s Day 2006, 31-year-old Lori Stodghill, seven months pregnant with twin boys, was vomiting and out of breath. She called her obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, and he instructed her to go to the emergency room at St. Thomas More Hospital in Cañon City, Colorado. Her husband Jeremy, drove her to the hospital where Lori later suffered a cardiac arrest and stopped breathing due to a pulmonary embolism. Staples never ended up coming to the hospital. Lori’s unborn sons stayed with her.

Nearly two years later, Jeremy sued the hospital, Staples and ER doctor John Pelner for the wrongful death of his wife and twins. The hospital is one of the 78 in 17 states operated by Catholic Health Initiatives.

Regarding Lori’s unborn sons, Catholic Health Initiatives wrote that “under Colorado law, a fetus is not a ‘person,’ and plaintiff’s claims for wrongful death must therefore be dismissed.”

This legal argument, no doubt proposed by their lawyers and approved by Catholic Health Initiatives, is legally sound.

Catholic Health facilities seek to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. This doctrine promises: “to respect the sacredness of every human life from the moment of conception.” This example of hypocrisy on the part of Catholic Health Initiatives cannot be used as an argument invalidating this doctrine without committing the fallacy of ad hominem tu quoque.

However, the Catholic Church has positioned itself as an authority on morality. When that morality is sacrificed for money, the Church’s authority is nullified. David Weddle, a religion professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, asks whether it’s “morally justifiable to defend yourself on a principle you know to be false.”

Catholic Health Initiatives asked the judge to dismiss the case since Lori would have died regardless of what the hospital did. Fremont County District Court Judge David Thorson sided with Catholic Health Initiatives and dismissed Jeremy’s lawsuit. The doctors and the hospital came after Jeremy for $118,969 in legal fees and he was forced to declare bankruptcy. He also filed a brief asking a panel of three appellate judges to reverse the district court ruling.

H/T: Denver Westworld News, Jerry Coyne, The Colorado Independent, Charles P. Pierce, John Casey, Howard Friedman.

52 thoughts on “The Limits Of Catholic Morality

  1. In subsequent litigation, if the church takes the position that life begins at conception, this case will be stuck in their face as a defense. Estoppel by judgment if both parties are before the court again and collateral estoppel based on the position taken and by the judgment, if the church is in litigation again on the same issue. It would be nice to throw some Latin at these astardBays. Not piglatin.

  2. The Church raises it religious beliefs to get out of following the law; it raises science and Colorado law to get out of being help liable for malpractice. The raise their alleged moral superiority to smear their their opponents and take billions of dollars of taxpayer money to do “their” good works. The Church is nothing more than a greedy, power hungry machine working hard to establish a theocracy it thinks it will lead just like in the really old days. Hypocrites, mysoginists and liars, not the Church that Christ expected I’m sure.

  3. Why do people continue to be surprised by stories like these? Religious cults are predicated self-serving hypocrisy and duplicity. It’s SOP for those SOBs. Wihtout it, religions would be held to the same standards and ethics as everyone else. And since religious “leaders” don’t have standards and ethics, they wouldn’t last very long without it.

  4. Nal
    1, January 26, 2013 at 3:03 pm
    Bron,

    According to my first sourced link:

    Lori was suffering a cardiac arrest and had stopped breathing due to a pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot that traveled from her leg to her lungs. Two of the risk factors for the deadly condition are pregnancy and obesity, and Lori was experiencing both.

    My post didn’t deal with any negligence issues. Maybe an emergency C-section could have save the twins, but there’s no way of knowing since it wasn’t even tried.
    ——————-
    “My post didn’t deal with any negligence issues. Maybe an emergency C-section could have save the twins, but there’s no way of knowing since it wasn’t even tried.”

    Why is this not the crux of the issue rather than the hypocrisy?

    At the death of Lori, a C-section, at the gestational age of seven months….a time of viability most definitely on the side of the undelivered children, should have been performed STAT. People are made out to be hypocrits all the time, but given the in-utero age of the children AND the failure to perform by the hospital/physicians I would think the chosen defense was not only insufficient but stupid. In fact, given the loss of face experienced by the hospital in attempting to fight this, given the advice by attorneys, why are they not sueing the attorneys for malpractice due to the loss of reputation and probably loss of the Church potentiality in good faith?????

  5. We either have the Law or we have a dirty scrum….Lawyers who push and finagle legal methods to promote their acquisition of the almighty buck should be held no less accountable than those whom they forward into a legal breach.

    • “We either have the Law or we have a dirty scrum….Lawyers who push and finagle legal methods to promote their acquisition of the almighty buck should be held no less accountable than those whom they forward into a legal breach.”
      Im my med mal case, which I have written about, often, I went to fee disoute. I was “awarded” some money (not permitted to sday how much. The “award letter read, we find in favor of the attorney. If that were so I would not have received additional money. One of the lawyers who heard the fee dispute case told me he was on the disciplinary committee and suggested it was not worth my time to register a complaint with them.
      Seems like often the hen is watching the foxhouse and it keeps hens and foxes happy.

  6. Justice Holmes
    1, January 26, 2013 at 11:40 pm
    The Church raises it religious beliefs to get out of following the law; it raises science and Colorado law to get out of being help liable for malpractice. The raise their alleged moral superiority to smear their their opponents and take billions of dollars of taxpayer money to do “their” good works. The Church is nothing more than a greedy, power hungry machine working hard to establish a theocracy it thinks it will lead just like in the really old days. Hypocrites, mysoginists and liars, not the Church that Christ expected I’m sure.
    ——————————————————–
    The Church holds forth a potential reality that is sacred because it can become real given the choices followed and in (hopefully) most circumstances. It’s biggest failure is judgement of others when the choices they are NOT privy to interfere…..
    The State holds forth LAWS to protect the current REALITY that perches ever dangerously on the precipice of the abyss that can provide the bliss of evolving potentiality and better life or the failure of the law, which throws us all back into the dark ages and the chaos that can give birth to those lesser elements that the Law evolved to protect us from….cruelty, usery, disdain, neglect, false judgements for power and $$$ and the ever dreaded ennui of blah blah blah…..

    personally, I think I would favour the side that just keeps phuckin trying to move forward into the light….the chance those kids, at 7 months, did not get, and the pain to that father, that the courts and lawyers doubled down on and imposed.

  7. With a doctrine of “to respect the sacredness of every human life from the moment of conception” would that not indicate that the hospital promised to protect the lives of the unborn? Would it not be possible for a lawsuit to prevail on the basis that hospital reneged on its promise to Lori and her husband?

  8. “Regarding Lori’s unborn sons, Catholic Health Initiatives wrote that “under Colorado law, a fetus is not a ‘person,’ and plaintiff’s claims for wrongful death must therefore be dismissed.”

    “This legal argument, no doubt proposed by their lawyers and approved by Catholic Health Initiatives, is legally sound.”

    Not so. The US Constitution, Article I, sections 9 (federal) & 10 (state), forbids putting any human being outside the protection of the law. Any law or any court decree to the contrary is unconstitutional, illegal and those who act pursuant to such invalid statutes and opinions do so in contravention to the law.

  9. “Justice Holmes”
    “not the Church that Christ expected I’m sure.”

    Not the church that Christ built.

    The Catholic Church is based on forgeries that are admitted by credentialed Catholic scholars to be forgeries but that doesn’t cause the Church to so much as hiccup.

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