Catholic hospital makes about-face on wrongful death defense

A Catholic hospital is taking back its controversial legal argument that a fetus is not a person, calling the statement "morally wrong," CNN reported.

The attorneys representing St. Thomas More Hospital in Colorado cited the state's Wrongful Death Act in defense of a lawsuit over the death of Lori Stodghill and her unborn twin sons in 2006.

But Catholic Health Initiatives-owned St. Thomas More will not use the argument in any future legal hearings, said CHI, which also noted the statement was legally correct.

"That law does not consider fetuses to be persons, which directly contradicts the moral teachings of the Church," the nonprofit health system said Monday in a statement.

So far, two courts of law have agreed with the hospital that nothing could have been done to save the mother and fetuses, CHI noted.

The about-face comes days after the the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services issued a final rule that defers the obligation of offering contraceptive coverage to insurers, rather than religious hospitals and employers, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

The new rule could narrow the lawsuits challenging the birth control mandate, reported Law360. But it likely won't end the litigation completely.

Lawsuits from faith-based organizations, including Catholic hospitals, against the contraception mandate could be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court, according to legal experts.

For more:
- read the CNN article
- check out the CHI statement (.pdf)
- read the Law360 article (subscription required)