The Catholic Church says life begins at birth

The Catholic Church says life begins at birth

There is a health group in Colorado and sixteen other states called Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI). They run a group of hospitals. A few years ago, a woman named Lori Stodghill came to one of the hospitals in Colorado. She was seven months pregnant with twins at the time.

Sadly, Lori died of a heart attack at the hospital when her OBGYN was paged and didn’t show up. Her twins also died and a wrongful death lawsuit was brought, alleging medical negligence led to the death of Lori and her unborn children. Because no OBGYN was present, the ER doctors decided against performing an emergency C-section that may have saved the twins.

The lawsuit on behalf of the twins against CHI was dismissed because under Colorado law, life does not begin until birth, so there could not have been a wrongful death. That said, CHI publicly takes the position of the Catholic Church that life begins at conception. In their marketing campaigns for their medical group, they discuss the sanctity of life and that they will protect unborn fetuses.

So during the case, the plaintiff’s lawyers had to argue that the CHI public position was that life begins at conception so a lawsuit for the twins should be allowed. The CHI lawyers had to argue that life does not begin at conception even though they don’t believe that personally or in practice.

The CHI attorneys are in the right and this case was correctly dismissed. Lawyers often have to argue legal positions that they personally don’t believe in or that their clients don’t believe in This just happens to be an extreme example of that which is also somewhat of a PR nightmare for the Church. Of course they still believe that life begins at conception, but the law says otherwise and the truth is that you are supposed to argue the law, not your opinion, when you are in court.

Years ago I had to represent insurance companies against injured workers at times when I felt that my client was completely in the wrong. But that was my job. I could never be a criminal defense attorney, but there are hundreds of lawyers who spend their day trying to get people they view as scumbags a second chance at life or at least limit their punishment.

And in family law cases, your job is to pursue your client’s goals. One reason that some divorce attorneys burn out is because they have to at times take kids away from their opponent, even when they believe that person is the better parent.

The CHI story has gotten some national attention because it’s such a hot button issue. But it’s really much to do about nothing. Their attorneys no more believe that life begins at birth than O.J.’s lawyers believed there was a mystery killer. They are all just doing their job.


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  • And how is case law created? By the judgement of other lawyers creating argument that convinces juries and/or judges. Some things are encased in statute, but that does not make it morally right. To advocate against a clearly aggrieved party, because you collect a paycheck from the defendant and because it is "law" makes one wonder how such a person sleeps at night.

    Following orders facilitated and continued a World War that killed 20 million people ultimately and sent a certain sub-set with yellow stars to gas chambers.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    A little extreme and over-used comparison at the end. No attorney has to take on a client and the attorneys certainly aren't "following orders."

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