Hypocritical Much? Part Eight

I came across an article on the website for The Colorado Independent that caught my attention.  It was about how, in a medial malpractice case, a Catholic hospital is arguing that fetuses are not people.  Arguing against a malpractice suit while using an argument that flies in the face of Catholic Doctrine screams hypocrisy.

It all stems from a visit to the hospital on New Year’s Day 2006.  A seven months pregnant woman arrived at the hospital (St. Thomas More) in Canon City.  She was vomiting and was short of breath, and passed out while being wheeled to an examination room.  Less than an hour after arriving at the hospital, she died, as did the twins she was carrying.

Her husband sued the on-call obstetrician for malpractice after he did not even bother to respond to pages during the emergency.  He is arguing that an emergency C-section may have saved the twins, even though it was unlikely that his wife would have survived.  Notice, he was not arguing for termination of the twins in order to save his wife.

According to the article, the mission of the defendant, Catholic Health Initiatives, 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.  Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death,’ The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”  (emphasis mine)

Yet, when it comes to defending themselves against a malpractice lawsuit, Catholic Health Initiatives is making the case that, “the court “should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term ‘person,’ as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define ‘person’ under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”

Which one is it?  Does Catholic Health Initiatives believe, as is Church Doctrine, that life begins at conception?  Or do they want to follow Colorado law when it comes to defining a “person” and their rights?  I really do not see how they can have it both ways.  How can they turn away a woman who comes to their hospital seeking an abortion, using the Church’s belief that life begins at conception, then defend themselves against a lawsuit using the exact opposite definition of when life begins?  Did Catholic Health Initiatives use the exception provided for religious hospitals in the Affordable Care Act that allows them to not provide contraception to employees as part of their sponsored health plan?  Doesn’t their argument in this lawsuit then nullify their justification for doing so (if they did)?

To me, they really cannot have it both ways.  While I very much consider myself pro-choice, I also respect those who do not believe the way that I do, and I respect rational dialogue on the issue.  However, I cannot bring myself to have much respect for those who would vehemently argue against a woman’s right to choose, using a religious argument, and who would then go against their own view when it came to protecting the bottom line.  If your belief is that, under no circumstances should a woman be allowed to have an abortion, stand by it.  But do not run from it when you are sued for malpractice and want to use the argument that a person only includes those born alive.

Make no mistake about it, the lawsuit the article is talking about is not about abortion or right to choose or women’s rights.  Nowhere does it make the case that a request was made by the patient or her husband to terminate the pregnancy in order to save the mother’s life.  The hospital was not being asked to go against its position on abortion when this pregnant woman entered the emergency room; if anything, the request was made to save the twins and to sacrifice the life of the mother.  By neglecting to even attempt to do so, and by not even taking the time to answer pages for assistance, the hospital showed no concern for any of the lives involved.  In writing about this, I am not attempting to re-open the abortion debate from a few months ago on this blog, I am merely pointing out the hypocrisy of the defense being used by an organization that claims to follow a strict religious definition of when life begins.


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