Media coverage was wide and breathless when news broke about a Catholic hospital's attorneys arguing that a fetus is not a human being in defending said hospital from a wrongful death lawsuit.
“The bishops are disappointed by what happened, without a doubt...but Catholic Health Initatives has recognized an error and has committed to moving forward and to changing their course, and that really does deserve to be commended,” J.D. Flynn, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Denver, told CNA Feb. 4.
“Institutions and people make errors, but the Christian life is to take responsibility for what we've done and move forward, and so we're thankful for that.”
In 2006, Lori Stodghill and her two unborn children died at a hospital operated by Catholic Health Initiatives. Lawyers for the health system argued that Colorado's wrongful death legislation does not apply to fetuses.
On Feb. 4, the Catholic bishops of Colorado “expressed their support for Catholic Health Initiatives after the national health care organization acknowledged that it was 'morally wrong' for attorneys to cite the state’s Wrongful Death Act in defense of a lawsuit involving one of its affiliated hospitals.”
Last week, Colorado's three bishops met with four executives of Catholic Health Initiatives to discuss the Stodghill case. The bishops had pledged on Jan. 24 to review the matter to ensure faithful witness to Church teaching.
“CHI representatives acknowledged that it was morally wrong for attorneys representing St. Thomas More Hospital to cite the state's Wrongful Death Act in defense of this lawsuit,” Catholic Health Initiatives stated Feb. 4.
Catholic Health Initiatives called Colorado's Wrongful Death Act “unjust” and said that they will not use it in potential future litigation of the Stodghill case.
In addition, Catholic Health Initiatives “unequivocally affirmed CHI's strict adherence to one of the Church's most basic moral commitments – that every person is created in the image and likeness of God and that life begins at the moment of conception.”
“It is an unfortunate and regrettable point of fact that Colorado law, as it now stands, fails to adequately protect the rights of the unborn,” Catholic Health Initiatives said.
I doubt that the reversal will be reported as widely as the initial decision nevertheless, it was a much needed and necessary course correction.
Hats off to all involved.