RELIGION
01/24/2013 07:38 pm ET Updated Mar 26, 2013

Catholic Bishops To Investigate Catholic Hospital Group That Argued In Lawsuit That Fetuses Are Not People

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The bishops of Colorado are vowing to undertake a "full review" of the "policies and practices" a Catholic health nonprofit that has argued in medical malpractice lawsuit against it for the death two unborn children that fetuses are not people.

Catholic Health Initiatives, which runs St. Thomas More hospital in Cañon City, Colo., made headlines this week for its surprising line of defense against the lawsuit, which was filed husband of the women who was pregnant with unborn twins and in its care (the woman died with the babies in her womb). Catholic social teaching says that fetuses are people -- the argument is part of the church's strong pro-life and anti-abortion positions.

(See the original story on the hospital and lawsuit as reported by The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic.)

On Thursday evening, the Catholic bishops of Colorado released the following statement:

The Catholic bishops of Colorado learned recently of the deaths of Lori Stodghill and her two unborn children, which took place at St. Thomas More Hospital in Cañon City, Colo. in 2006. We wish to extend our solidarity and sympathy to Lori's husband Jeremy, and her daughter, Elizabeth. Please be assured of our ongoing prayers.

From the moment of conception, human beings are endowed with dignity and with fundamental rights, the most foundational of which is life.

Catholics and Catholic institutions have the 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.

Catholic Health Initiatives is a Catholic institution which provides health care services in 14 states, providing care to thousands of people annually. Catholic Health Initiatives has been accused by some of undermining the Catholic position on human life in the course of litigation. Today, representatives of Catholic Health Initiatives assured us of their intention to observe the moral and ethical obligations of the Catholic Church.

The Catholic bishops of Colorado are not able to 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.

Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, S.T.L., Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Denver
Most Rev. Michael Sheridan, S.Th.D, Bishop of the Diocese of Colorado Springs
Most Rev. Fernando Isern, Bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo

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