FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 4, 2013
J.D. Flynn, chancellor, Archdiocese of Denver
Office: 303-715-3185 Mobile: 720-810-6180
Statement addressing recent policies and practices of Catholic Health Initiatives
Each human life is a sacred gift, created as a unique and unrepeatable expression of God’s love. Life is given by God, and the right to life is a fundamental good, without which no other rights can be enjoyed. Because life is endowed with dignity from the moment of conception to the time of natural death, just societies should create laws that comprehensively protect it.
In 2006, Lori Stodghill, who was pregnant with twin sons, tragically died at St. Thomas More Hospital in Cañon City, Colorado after Lori suffered a pulmonary embolism. After their deaths, the Stodghill family took legal action against the doctors involved, and St. Thomas More, which is sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives, an institution of the Catholic Church. The lawsuit alleged that the hospital failed to sufficiently try to save Ms. Stodghill and her children.
Attorneys for St. Thomas More argued that the hospital provided the best possible medical care to Lori Stodghill and her sons, and that there was no possibility of saving their lives. Two courts affirmed that argument.
Evidence indicates that St. Thomas More Hospital undertook all possible efforts to save Lori Stodghill. Medical experts testified to that effect. They also testified that the Stodghill children tragically died before medical care commenced, so an emergency C-section would not have saved them. We have every reason to believe that St. Thomas More Hospital provided excellent and conscientious medical care in this case.
Attorneys for St. Thomas More Hospital argued that because unborn children are not defined as persons under Colorado’s Wrongful Death Act, the law did not permit this lawsuit. We became aware of this tragic situation on Thursday, January 24, 2013. We at once contacted the leadership of CHI for clarification.
CHI was unaware that legal counsel for St. Thomas More had aligned itself with an argument based upon an unjust law. CHI officials have assured us that they believed it was “morally wrong” to make recourse to an unjust law. They have also assured us that they will no longer utilize this unjust law if the case is heard before additional courts.
CHI joins us in our commitment to work for comprehensive change in Colorado’s law, so that the unborn may enjoy the same legal protections as all other persons.
We commend CHI for its rapid acknowledgement of this situation and its commitment to rectifying any harm it may have caused. We join CHI in affirming the fundamental truth that human life, human dignity, and human rights begin at conception. No law can ever mitigate God-given human rights. All Catholic persons and institutions, indeed all men and women of good will, share the solemn responsibility to support efforts aimed at establishing legal protection for the unborn.
Finally, we join Catholic Health Initiatives in expressing solidarity for the Stodghill family. The loss they have experienced is unimaginable. They have offered to stand with the Stodghills, and to support them in their suffering. We commend that commitment, and offer our own prayers and support to the Stodghill family.
Catholic healthcare institutions are, and should, be held to the high standard of Jesus Christ himself, who is our divine and eternal healer. We pray that the good work of Catholic hospitals in America may continue to provide healing, support, and witness to the essential dignity of all human life.
Most Reverend Samuel J. Aquila
Archbishop of Denver
Most Reverend Michael Sheridan
Bishop of Colorado Springs
Most Reverend Fernando Isern
Bishop of Pueblo