The hypocrisy of nominal pro-lifers — specifically, those who want to overturn Roe v. Wade, and/or make abortion illegal, and/or place restrictions on women’s access to abortion — knows no bounds. Here is a report in The Colorado Independent about a Catholic hospital’s unique response to a lawsuit alleging negligence in the case of a woman whose twin fetuses died in her womb after she had a massive heart attack during labor and could not be saved. The negligence comes in because the on-call obstetrician (also, as it happened, the woman’s personal obstetrician), who could have ordered an emergency c-section, did not respond to his pager, and no one at the hospital saw fit to take responsibility for doing a c-section — which probably would not have saved the mother, but could have saved the fetuses. The hospital’s legal defense? They are not liable for the fetuses’ death because “fetuses are not people” (emphasis is mine):
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.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, Stodghill’s husband Jeremy, a prison guard, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couple’s then-two-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Staples should have made it to the hospital, his lawyers argued, or at least instructed the frantic emergency room staff to perform a caesarian-section. The procedure likely would not have saved the mother, a testifying expert said, but it may have saved the twins.
The lead defendant in the case is Catholic Health Initiatives, the Englewood-based nonprofit that runs St. Thomas More Hospital as well as roughly 170 other health facilities in 17 states. Last year, the hospital chain reported national assets of $15 billion. The organization’s mission, according to its promotional literature, is to “nurture the healing ministry of the Church” and to be guided by “fidelity to the Gospel.” Toward those ends, Catholic Health facilities seek to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Those rules have stirred controversy for decades, mainly for forbidding non-natural birth control and abortions. “Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death,’” the directives state. “The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”
But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.
Interestingly (meaning, unsurprisingly), this story is getting NO — zero, zilch, nada — attention from the usual sanctimonious worshippers of fetal life on the right. Just the other day, there was a minor meltdown on the right over a Salon article by Mary Elizabeth Williams in which Williams said that she sees no contradiction between believing that human life begins at conception, and being pro-choice (which she is).
“Pro-lifers” were HORRIFIED — even while they grudgingly acknowledged Williams’ honesty. “It is astonishing to me that anyone with warm blood running through their veins can believe that life begins at conception yet still think it’s ok to terminate that life,” Sister Toldjah gasped, adding darkly that Williams’ piece “gives you a LOT of insight into the TRUE inner-workings of the typical rabid ‘feminist’s’ mind when it comes to the issue of abortion.” Crickets from ST so far, however, about a Catholic hospital that suddenly discovers fetuses are not people when it’s to their economic advantage to do so.
Same with Katrina Trinko at National Review: “Believe a fetus is a life and still want to have an abortion? Go for it, writes Mary Elizabeth Williams. …”
Trinko’s tone becomes more hysterical as she goes on:
By this same logic, isn’t infanticide also fine and dandy? After all, if we’re talking about autonomy, kids aren’t exactly independent as soon as they are born. No infant can take care of themselves. And even later on in childhood, children rely heavily on the adults in their life to provide shelter, food, and emotional support. What about kids and adults who become disabled in life? What about quadriplegics? They’re not going to be able to take care of themselves. Is it okay if we just off the lot of them? Heck, what about needy friends who seem to be falling apart unless we talk to them regularly and console them? Okay to just shoot a couple of them so that we don’t have the burden? Should we ship the grandparents that spent all their money and are now financially dependent on us to the local executioner?
We make them about men and women in other countries. We make them about prisoners in our penal system. We make them about patients with terminal illnesses and accident victims. We still have passionate debates about the justifications of our actions as a society, but we don’t have to do it while being bullied around by the vague idea that if you say we’re talking about human life, then the jig is up, rights-wise.
Collective hands on their collective hips, Twitchy retorts, “So: Because we go to war, execute convicted murderers, and remove brain-dead accident victims from life support, snuffing out innocent human life is OK.”
Um, well, in two out of three of those examples, we’re “snuffing out innocent human life,” too, so… yeah, there is definitely an issue of consistency there, or lack thereof.
I’ll keep checking to see if any of these defenders of innocent human fetal life develop any moral qualms about this Catholic hospital that puts the value of a dollar above their supposed conviction that a fetus is a valuable human life, but I’m not holding my breath.
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