Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Originally published at Quantum Matrix Scribe. Please leave any comments there.

In an embarrassingly hypocritical legal suit, a Catholic nonprofit church has argued that “fetuses are not people” in order to get out of paying money for a wrongful death (emphasis here mine):

Lori Stodghill was 31-one years old, seven-months pregnant with twin boys and feeling sick when she arrived at St. Thomas More hospital in Cañon City on New Year’s Day 2006. She was vomiting and short of breath and she passed out as she was being wheeled into an examination room. Medical staff tried to resuscitate her but, as became clear only later, a main artery feeding her lungs was clogged and the clog led to a massive heart attack. Stodghill’s obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, who also happened to be the obstetrician on call for emergencies that night, never answered a page. His patient died at the hospital less than an hour after she arrived and her twins died in her womb.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Stodghill’s husband Jeremy, a prison guard, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couple’s then-two-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Staples should have made it to the hospital, his lawyers argued, or at least instructed the frantic emergency room staff to perform a caesarian-section. The procedure likely would not have saved the mother, a testifying expert said, but it may have saved the twins.

The lead defendant in the case is Catholic Health Initiatives, the Englewood-based nonprofit that runs St. Thomas More Hospital as well as roughly 170 other health facilities in 17 states. Last year, the hospital chain reported national assets of $15 billion. The organization’s mission, according to its promotional literature, 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. Those rules have stirred controversy for decades, mainly for forbidding non-natural birth control and abortions. “Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death,’” the directives state. “The Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn.”


But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.

Now, what they’re saying is that state law defines fetuses as not people, not the Church itself. But, by using this argument, aren’t they throwing away standard Church doctrine on abortion and the right to life? With $15 billion, shouldn’t they just pay up?

Make no bones about it–I’m a pro-choice kind of guy. I generally follow Ayn Rand’s ideas on abortion. However, I understand–and sympathize with–pro-life arguments that equate abortion to murder. It does make sense; if the fetus is a person, then wouldn’t abortion be murder? I myself am not entirely clear on if a fetus is a person or not, but I generally move against it because, come on, a fetus doesn’t notice anything and isn’t performing cognition in whatever passes for a noggin. It’s a potentiality, nothing more. But, I will accept that, if we discover fetuses performing cognition, that maybe that’s the point where abortion should be denied.

What the above paragraph shows is that this is a deeply complicated issue, complicated over the simple fact that we don’t know when personhood begins. What both sides should realize that this is precisely the worst place for a ham-handed government to get involved.

Unfortunately, it has become clearer and clearer to me over the past few years that the pro-life movement is really not about it’s trumpeted principles at all, but just another way to gin up more votes or more parishioners. A lot of it is just a hypocritical grab for power over women’s vaginas.

I’ve written before that I would gladly trade abortion for gay marriage: take the pro-life, pro-gay route, just to end the stupid culture wars in America and get back to what is really important, fixing our economy and our fiscal problems. But these days, I don’t know if I can. The transparent hypocrisy is showing just a tad too much.

Here’s a grand idea, folks: let’s leave government out of the bedrooms and our private parts. This is not an area for government action. Let’s leave it be.