Catholic Church: A Fetus Is A Person Except When It Isn’t

Today is the 40th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., and I just saw Jeanne Monahan, president of the  of March for Life Education and Defense Fund, on television.

Ms. Monahan was doing her best to deny reality, which is that most Americans don’t agree with her anti-choice position on reproductive rights. She is a Catholic and has obviously embraced the Church’s theology, which teaches that fertilization = constitutionally-protected personhood. Ms. Monahan spoke today about all those “Americans” who have been killed through abortion since 1973.

All of which makes me wonder why Luke Russert, who interviewed her this morning on MSNBC, didn’t ask this Catholic leader about the following:

Catholic Hospital Chain Wins Lawsuit by Arguing Fetus Is Not a Person

Here’s the way truthdig put it:

A Catholic health provider has abandoned its beliefs by arguing that a dead fetus and a dead person are not the same thing in order to win a malpractice lawsuit.

The case stems from the death of 31-year-old Lori Stodghill, who was pregnant with twins when she died of a heart attack in 2006. The woman’s husband, Jeremy, filed a wrongful death suit against the faith-based, nonprofit hospital chain Catholic Health Initiatives, alleging its decision not to perform a perimortem cesarean section led to the deaths of the twins.

The health provider was able to win that lawsuit by arguing—against its own religious doctrine—that a fetus is not a person. The hospital chain’s strategy demonstrates that, in the end, greed and money ultimately triumph over principles and beliefs.

All of this sort of makes that rather large public outcry we heard last year about Obama and ObamaCare threatening the sacred beliefs of Catholics and other religious folks sound kind of hollow, don’t you think?




  1. Well, in religion, especially among the Catholics, hypocrisy abounds. Consider the case of Sister Margaret Mary McBride, a member of the ethics committee at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, who, in 2010 was excommunicated because she approved an abortion based upon doctors’ recommendation that the mother would die if said abortion was not performed. (In fact, the mother did indeed survive after the abortion.)

    According to “Catholic Review,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, who is the high mucky-muck of Sister McBride’s archdiocese, said in a May 14 statement that, “the direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances, and it cannot be permitted in any institution that claims to be authentically Catholic.”

    “We always must remember that when a difficult medical situation involves a pregnant woman, there are two patients in need of treatment and care, not merely one,” Bishop Olmsted said. “The unborn child’s life is just as sacred as the mother’s life, and neither life can be preferred over the other.” (

    Apparently, the calim that, “the direct killing of an unborn child is always immoral, no matter the circumstances,” doesn’t apply to twins.

    So, it seems that God does work in mysterious ways after all. Too mysterious for me.


    • Or, as the once and always wise and preceptive Voltaire once keenly observed, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”


      • Treeske

         /  January 25, 2013

        Herb, In agreement with you most of the time, I do have to address the Hypocrisy you so generously bestow the Catholics. Since moving to the four state area with its abundance of churches and Holier than thou atmosphere, no lack of Hypocrisy here either!


      • Which explains the Crusades, the Nazis, and the Jihadists. Let’s hope it doesn’t also explain the Second Amendment movement.


    • Herb,

      Mysterious, indeed. And even more mysterious is that the Catholic Bishops of Colorado released a statement regarding the legal arguments in the wrongful death lawsuit saying,

      We will undertake a full review of this litigation, and of the policies and practices of Catholic Health Initiatives to ensure fidelity and faithful witness to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

      The mystery is why God can’t tell his lawyers what his bishops are thinking, or vice versa.



  2. Troy

     /  January 25, 2013

    It’s always about the money and power with these people Has been since the beginning of time. Hypocrits. The lot of them.


    • “The love of money is the root of all evil,” their book says. The idea behind that statement, though, doesn’t happen to figure in the Church’s legal strategy.


  3. RDG,
    This has interesting ramifications. I see where the Archbishop of Colorado has stepped in to clarify the church’s position: Doctrine is conflicted when the Almighty Dollar comes into play. Here is a link from the canonical side of the aisle:


    • From the article:

      Still, University of Denver law professor Tom Russell believes that the hospital’s argument is legally sound. “All they’re doing is saying here’s what the legislature said,” says Russell, a torts specialist. “It might make some people within the church uncomfortable, but legally, it’s not in any way problematic.”

      But David Weddle, a religion professor at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, says that while the hospital is free to make any legal argument it wants, the question is “whether it’s morally justifiable to defend yourself on a principle you know to be false.

      “It would send a very strong message if this hospital were to say, ‘We are not legally liable here, but we accept responsibility because we believe that these fetuses were persons,’” Weddle continues. “That’s the only consistent argument the church can make.”

      Consistency in this case would be costly.


  4. DLG II

     /  January 27, 2013

    I know this doesn’t tie into this post but would love for you to do a post over the income tax elimination proposed by the governor from the state of Brownbackistan…I mean Kansas.


    • DLG,

      I will read the article and I love “Brownbackistan”! I have tried to follow Kansas’ depressing politics, but sometimes I just want to forget what is happening there, even though the same thing is happening (slowed down by a Democratic governor, though) right here in Missouri.

      Look for a post soon on what is happening in Kansas.



  5. Good post Duane, good discussion, Herb and Juan.

    For what it’s worth, my own opinion on when human life begins is that the question is an improper one. That’s because, although lawyers and priests feel compelled to ask and answer it, it is unanswerable in the form asked. By science at least. A new person begins as a blastula and develops from there in a genetically-programmed process that is a continuum.

    It is known from testing that people retain no specific memories prior the the age of 3 or 4, so I submit that people are incomplete before that stage. My feeling is that while abortion should be considered inadvisable if done after the first trimester of gestation, because by then the baby has distinct human form and organ functionality, I would make exceptions for rape, unrepairable genetic defect or significant threat to the life of the mother.

    Why should the life of the mother trump that of the baby? I would argue it’s because the mother has achieved complete self-awareness and memory whereas the fetus has neither at this stage. It’s simply a case of putting myself in her position: Cogito, ergo sum.

    The worm in this legal apple, in my opinion, is established religion having the hubris to dictate rules without sensible basis simply because they can.


    • To be completely scientifically accurate, life began with a Big Bang. No, not THAT Big Bang, the one circa 13.4 billion years ago. But all seriousness aside, I used to tell my kids when they were growing up that I believed abortion was legal all the way up to age 18. I gave ’em life and by golly I take it away (even though it was a lot more fun giving them life in the first place,)


%d bloggers like this: