Colorado Bishops, Catholic Health Initiatives Call for Strong Protection of the Unborn

DENVER – Feb. 4, 2013 - Colorado’s top Catholic Church officials 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.

Attorneys for St Thomas More Hospital, which is sponsored by Catholic Health Initiatives, cited the statute in legal proceedings in the tragic case of Lori Stodghill and her twin unborn sons, who died at the Canon City hospital on New Year’s Day of 2006. The law does not consider unborn children to be persons, which contradicts the moral teachings of the Church.
The Catholic bishops of Colorado -- Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, and Bishop Fernando Isern of Pueblo -- met last week to discuss the case with CHI senior leadership after announcing they would review the circumstances of the case.

CHI officials declared their firm commitment to one of the Church’s most basic moral teachings – that every person is created in the image and likeness of God and that life begins at the moment of conception. The CHI officials reiterated their deeply held belief that Colorado law fails to adequately protect the rights of the unborn, and expressed their commitment to work for laws that respect the rights of the unborn.

Kevin Lofton, CHI’s president and chief executive officer, and other senior executives, expressed their solidarity with Lori Stodghill’s husband, Jeremy, and the couple’s
daughter, Elizabeth. The prayers of CHI have been with the Stodghill family throughout this long, heartbreaking ordeal.

The Colorado bishops recognized the exceptional care provided to Lori Stodghill at St. Thomas More Hospital. Two courts of law – the Circuit Court in Fremont County and the Colorado Court of Appeals – have supported the position of CHI and St. Thomas More Hospital that nothing done by doctors, nurses and other staff members would have changed this case’s tragic outcome.

District Court Judge David Thorson dismissed the case before trial, ruling that the evidence did not "present a triable issue of fact."

This case is now being considered for review by the Colorado Supreme Court. If the justices agree to hear the case, the Wrongful Death Act would not be considered on appeal. The argument now before the court rests solely on “causation” – that is, whether or not the medical personnel at St. Thomas More Hospital were negligent in caring for the the 31-yearold Lori Stodghill, who was 28 weeks pregnant with her twin unborn sons. The Circuit and Appellate courts have overwhelmingly concluded otherwise.

CHI representatives agreed that the unjust law will not be cited in any further legal reviews of this case.

Colorado’s bishops have recognized the vital importance of CHI’s ministry of healing, and look forward to continued collaboration in working to overturn unjust laws and in service to the Gospel.


Click here to read the bishops' statement:

Click here to read CHI's statement in its media room:

About the Catholic bishops of Colorado:
The Roman Catholic Bishops of Colorado serve nearly 1 million Catholics in more than 200 parishes across the state of Colorado—in the Archdiocese of Denver, the Diocese of Pueblo, and the Diocese of Colorado Springs.

About Catholic Health Initiatives:
Catholic Health Initiatives is a national nonprofit health system with headquarters in Englewood, Colo. The faith-based system operates in 17 states and includes 78 hospitals; 40 long-term care, assisted- and residential-living facilities; two community health-services organizations; two accredited nursing colleges; and home health agencies. In fiscal year 2012, CHI provided more than $715 million in charity care and community benefit, including services for the poor, free clinics, education and research. With total annual revenues of more than $10.7 billion and approximately 83,000 employees, CHI ranks as the nation’s second-largest faith-based health system.


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