Is a fetus a person? The Colorado Supreme Court may have to decide.
Brian Stauffer

On the morning of the day she died, 31-year-old Lori Stodghill balanced her breakfast plate on her very pregnant belly and watched it bob up and down as the twin boys inside her kicked and kicked. The saucer-sized dish was "bouncing back and forth," her husband, Jeremy Stodghill, remembers — a sure sign that at 28 weeks, the babies were strong and healthy.

But by that afternoon, Lori wasn't feeling well. At about 3:30 p.m., she called her obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, and reported that she was vomiting and out of breath. It was New Year's Day 2006, and Staples wasn't working in his office, so he instructed her to go to the emergency room at St. Thomas More Hospital in Cañon City, a mile from where she lived.

Jeremy left his job as a prison guard to drive her there. It didn't seem like an emergency at the time, he recalls. Lori told him she was probably dehydrated and needed some fluids.

But in the few minutes it took to drive to the hospital, Lori's condition worsened. She was struggling to breathe by the time Jeremy fetched a wheelchair, took her inside and went to park their van. When he walked back into the ER, he found a nurse rubbing his wife's chest. "Lori, you have to wake up," the nurse was saying. "Her head rolled back, looked up at me and then collapsed onto her chest," Jeremy recalls. "And the nurse hollered, 'I need help in here!'"

Lori was suffering a cardiac arrest and had stopped breathing due to a pulmonary embolism caused by a blood clot that traveled from her leg to her lungs. Two of the risk factors for the deadly condition are pregnancy and obesity, and Lori was experiencing both.

For the next hour, Jeremy stood by as hospital staff frantically tried to bring his wife back to life. After helping to hoist Lori, who at seven months pregnant weighed more than 400 pounds, onto a bed, Jeremy melted into the background and was eventually escorted to an adjacent room, where someone brought him juice and cookies. "I just become a wallflower," Jeremy says.

At some point that afternoon, he was handed a phone to speak to Staples, who never ended up coming to the hospital. "He said, 'Well, what do you want to do? Take the babies? Take the babies?'" Jeremy remembers. "I kept responding, 'I'm not a doctor!'"

A nurse listened for fetal heartbeats, according to depositions taken later. When she didn't hear any, the doctors figured the babies were dead and decided against doing a perimortem Cesarean section, an emergency procedure that can save mothers and babies. Lori's unborn sons stayed with her. Eventually, all three were pronounced dead.

Nearly two years later, after careful consideration and consultations with lawyers, Jeremy sued the hospital, Staples and ER doctor John Pelner for the wrongful death of his wife and twins. He believes the doctors should have done the C-section.

But the hospital and the organization that operates it — Englewood-based Catholic Health Initiatives, which operates 78 Catholic hospitals in seventeen states, including nine Centura Health hospitals in Colorado — have argued that nothing could have been done to save Lori.

Furthermore, the organization has repeatedly asked judges — in Jeremy's initial lawsuit and on appeal — to dismiss the wrongful-death claims with regard to the twins based on a legal argument that would seem to contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church: that is, that a fetus is not a person.

It's an argument that may be settled by the Colorado Supreme Court.

See also:
- Fetuses-aren't-people lawsuit: Bishops to review Catholic hospital's argument
- Fetuses aren't people, says Catholic hospital: Does argument contradict church doctrine?
- Fetus = person? District court judges have come to different conclusions

*********

Jeremy and Lori met online in 1999. He was a burly former lumberjack who was working as a corrections officer at the now-shuttered prison in Walsenberg. She was a strong-willed nurse with the state Department of Corrections. They met in person in May of 2000, and a few months later, at a Toby Keith concert at the Colorado State Fair, Jeremy asked Lori to marry him.

"She was cute," Jeremy says. "She loved me for me."

Born in Colorado Springs, Lori was raised in Cañon City by her mother, Susan Wilson, a travel agent who often took her daughter along on trips. They went to Mexico and California, and when Lori fulfilled a dream by graduating from nursing school, Wilson took her to Florida.

"She was my best friend," Wilson says. "She wanted to help people and be there to take care of them."

In her spare time, Lori loved shopping, listening to country music and getting her nails done. During the holidays, she'd wear nursing scrubs decorated with jack-o-lanterns, turkeys or Christmas trees and have her nails painted to match. Lori was also enamored of motorcycles and had several tattoos of Harley-Davidsons and roses. She hoped to own a bike some day.

But most of all, Wilson says, Lori wanted to have a family. Wilson remembers that her daughter was ecstatic when she met Jeremy. "I knew it was serious when I met him," Wilson says. "I could tell by the way they acted and the way they looked at each other."

Jeremy, too, was thrilled to have found Lori. The eldest of three brothers, he moved with his family to Colorado when he was seventeen. His parents bought land in Weston, a tiny old mining town near Trinidad. The family was outdoorsy, and Jeremy grew up attending gatherings of people who dress in period clothing and re-create 1830s fur-trading meetups between the mountain men who harvested beaver pelts and the companies that sold them.

As Jeremy and Lori's relationship grew, they shared their pastimes with each other; she dragged him to concerts in Denver and he taught her to camp, fish and hunt. Her first year out, she bagged a deer. Her fingernails were painted camouflage for the occasion.

The couple wed in September 2001 in Cañon City, where Jeremy had also landed a job with the Department of Corrections. Before they left for a mountain-man meetup, known as a rendezvous, in June 2002, Wilson joked that they'd probably come back pregnant. Sure enough, the couple's daughter, Elizabeth, was born nine months later. Lori was so overjoyed that she had the baby's footprints tattooed on her arm.

"When Libby was born," Wilson says, "that was the peak of her life."

A little more than two years later, Lori became pregnant again. Twins run in her family, so she wasn't surprised to find out that there were two babies. When she and Jeremy learned the twins were boys, they began narrowing down a list of names, settling on Samuel Edward and Zachary James.

By Christmas, Lori was seven months along. She, Jeremy and Libby spent the holiday with Jeremy's family in Trinidad, and when they returned to Cañon City a few days later, Lori was exhausted. That wasn't unusual. Carrying the twins was so tiring that on the advice of her doctor, she'd taken a leave of absence from work in mid-December and planned to stay home until after the babies were born in March. Otherwise, her pregnancy was perfectly ordinary. "It was normal all the way up through her last appointment on December 14," Jeremy says.

*********

In December 2007, ten days before the two-year statute of limitations on wrongful-death claims was set to expire, Jeremy filed a lawsuit in Fremont County District Court against St. Thomas More Hospital; Catholic Health Initiatives; and ER doctor Pelner.

Colorado's wrongful-death law states that "when the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect or default of another," the party that caused the death "shall be liable."

A year after filing the initial lawsuit, Jeremy added Lori's OB-GYN, Staples, to the list of defendants. Jeremy's lawyer at the time, Denver medical malpractice attorney David Woodruff, didn't sue Staples originally because the doctor assured him that the hospital hadn't told him about Lori's cardiac arrest until 43 minutes after she collapsed — too late to save the babies, according to an affidavit written by Woodruff. "I could have been there in five to seven minutes," Staples said, according to the document. "And if I could not be there immediately, I would have been on the phone while I was driving, telling them to prepare Mrs. Stodghill for a C-section."

Woodruff tried to get Staples's pager records to confirm that was true. But the pager company wouldn't release them without written authorization from Staples, the affidavit says; Staples and his attorney promised to send them, but didn't do so until after the extended statute of limitations that Woodruff had negotiated with Staples's lawyer had expired, the affidavit says.

It turned out that the records were potentially damning. According to the affidavit, they show that Staples was paged within two minutes of Lori's cardiac arrest, not 43. Suspicious that Staples had hidden the pager records and lied about when he was contacted, Woodruff successfully petitioned the court to add the doctor to the lawsuit.

Civil lawsuits move slowly, though, and in August 2010, Catholic Health Initiatives asked a judge to dismiss the case against them altogether, arguing that Lori would have died no matter what the hospital did and that it couldn't be held responsible for the actions of the doctors.

But it was another argument that the organization made that shocked Jeremy and his lawyers. "Under Colorado law, a fetus is not a 'person,'" Catholic Health Initiatives wrote, "and plaintiff's claims for wrongful death must therefore be dismissed."

"The doctrine of the Catholic Church is that life begins at conception," says Jeremy, who isn't Catholic himself. "It made me irritated that they're not following the doctrine of the organization they work for."

*********

The doctrine of the Catholic Church is clear: Fetuses are life, and life must be protected.

"We treat life as if it begins at conception and continues until natural death," says Sister Peg Maloney, a member of the religious-studies faculty at Regis University, a Jesuit college in Denver. Because Catholics believe unborn babies are people, "it's a belief that certainly there was more than one patient involved in this case," Maloney adds.

Neither Catholic Health Initiatives nor its lawyers agreed to speak with Westword for this story, citing the ongoing litigation. Catholic Health Initiatives was founded in 1996, when three separate Catholic health-care systems from around the country merged. The organization decided to place its headquarters in Colorado, where it also entered into a joint operating agreement with the Adventist Health System to operate hospitals in the Centura Health network, including the new and expanded St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood.

Lawyers for Pelner and Staples also declined to comment. Attempts to contact the doctors directly were unsuccessful. A woman who answered the phone at Staples's office in Cañon City, which is affiliated with St. Thomas More Hospital, said he was no longer practicing there. Asked where he'd gone, she said she had no more information.

The Diocese of Pueblo, which covers Cañon City, likewise refused to answer questions about Catholic Health Initiatives' argument. Instead, a spokeswoman referred us to the Colorado Catholic Conference, which describes itself as "a united voice of the three Catholic dioceses [that] speaks on public policy issues." But a spokeswoman for that organization did not return phone calls or e-mails. The Catholic Health Association of the United States also declined to weigh in: "We will pass on an interview," a spokesman wrote in an e-mail.

But many answers can be found in a guide to moral issues in Catholic health care that is published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Called "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services," the most recent edition was released in 2009 and includes an entire section on the beginning of life.

"The Church's defense of life encompasses the unborn and the care of women and their children during and after pregnancy," the guide says.

The guide goes on to list dos and don'ts for health-care providers. Do encourage natural family planning. Don't allow the use of contraceptives. Do counsel couples toward adoption. Don't offer "reproductive technologies that substitute for the marriage act." Never perform an abortion. Never perform a vasectomy. Always provide prenatal care to expectant mothers. Do induce labor if the mother is suffering from a medical condition and the baby is viable.

Given those beliefs, Catholic Health Initiatives' legal argument is hypocritical, says Miguel De La Torre, a professor of social ethics at Denver's Iliff School of Theology. "What they should be arguing is, 'Oh, no, all life, from the moment of conception, is life and therefore must be protected,'" De La Torre says. "When you establish yourself in this culture as a moral voice, even when it works against you, you have to maintain that moral voice."

But Sister Maloney says that the intersection of religious beliefs and law isn't that simple.

The hospital's attorneys aren't "trying to argue whether unborn children should be recognized as persons," she says. "They're just arguing that they are not in Colorado law."

She points out that Colorado voters have twice rejected, in 2008 and 2010, so-called personhood amendments that would have defined the word "person" as indicating any human being from the moment of conception. Catholic leaders didn't support the pro-life measures because they didn't think a constitutional amendment was the solution.

"We remain committed to defending all human life from conception to natural death," the archbishop of Denver and the bishops of Pueblo and Colorado Springs wrote in a joint statement in 2008. But, they added, "even if this year's personhood amendment is passed in Colorado, lower federal courts interpreting this amendment will be required to apply the permissive 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision by the U.S. Supreme Court."

The bishops have, however, supported other measures to protect the unborn, including efforts to increase penalties for attacks on pregnant women and a bill to require pregnant women seeking abortions to be notified that they can first have an ultrasound. For the past five years, the Colorado Catholic Conference has supported bills to make killing a fetus illegal.

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."

*********

Pelner and Staples soon joined Catholic Health Initiatives in its argument, and also noted that Colorado's wrongful-death law simply says that survivors can seek compensation for the wrongful death of "a person." It makes no mention of fetuses.

To be considered a person, the lawyers argued, a baby has to be born alive. As proof, they cited a 2008 case in which doctors performed a C-section on a woman who was five months pregnant when she was in a car accident that caused her placenta to detach from the uterine wall. A Colorado appeals court ruled that she could sue the driver who caused the crash because the premature baby lived briefly — even if it was only for an hour and six minutes.

Jeremy's lawyers think the hospital's argument twists the purpose of the wrongful-death law. The point of the law is to make sure that someone who injures another person so badly that he dies doesn't get away with it because the victim is no longer alive to take him to court.

"What we're saying is if you have a viable fetus — and there's no question in this case that these babies were viable — and a doctor negligently causes their death, that the surviving parents ought to be able to bring a lawsuit," says lawyer Beth Krulewitch, who along with attorney Dan Gerash took over Jeremy's case from Woodruff. To deny the parents that right would open up the very loophole that the wrongful-death law seeks to close, Krulewitch argues.

"The person who was negligent would basically get away with it," she says.

Fremont County District Court Judge David Thorson disagreed. In December 2010, he sided with Catholic Health Initiatives and the doctors, and dismissed Jeremy's lawsuit.

But Thorson noted that no appeals court in Colorado had taken up the issue of whether fetuses are people under the law, leaving it an open question. He also noted that the word "person" isn't defined in the statute. If lawmakers meant it to cover unborn babies, he ruled, they would have said so.

Thorson threw out the lawsuit related to Lori, as well. Based on expert testimony, he decided that the blockage of her arteries was so severe that she probably would have died whether or not the doctors had performed a C-section to save the twins.

Jeremy was crestfallen, and even though he was forced to declare bankruptcy after the doctors and the hospital came after him for $118,969 in legal fees, he decided to appeal.

Nine months later, in August 2011, Jeremy's lawyers filed a brief asking a panel of three appellate judges to reverse the district court ruling. To back their case, they cited several cases from inside and outside Colorado. One of the most important was a 1986 decision by former Colorado Supreme Court justice and then-U.S. District Court judge James Carrigan. Faced with a situation in which a nine-months-pregnant woman was killed by a drunk driver, Carrigan found that the woman's husband could sue the bar that served the driver for the wrongful death of both his wife and unborn son.

The purpose of the wrongful-death law, Carrigan wrote, is to "preserve and protect human life." That includes, he added, "a full-term, viable unborn child's right to be born alive."

The case was heard in federal court because of what's known as diversity jurisdiction, which means that the people involved are citizens of different states or countries. Since the accident happened in Colorado, Carrigan had to interpret Colorado law in making his decision. But federal court decisions aren't binding on future state cases.

Even so, Jeremy's lawyers argued that Carrigan's ruling "provides a thoughtful and persuasive framework." They also pointed out that courts in at least thirty other states have found that a viable fetus is a "person" under their wrongful-death laws, many of which resemble Colorado's law. The Colorado Trial Lawyers Association joined in that argument by filing its own legal brief, writing that "common sense, common decency and the majority of courts" support the conclusion that the law should cover viable unborn babies.

*********

The hospital and doctors continued to do battle. But there was a dawning realization in their legal briefs that the issue of fetuses-as-people could be a public-relations disaster.

"Whenever the legal system addresses the rights of the unborn, political winds swirl and passionate debate mounts," the hospital's lawyers wrote.

Soon thereafter, the lawyers for Pelner and Staples appear to have switched their tactics, encouraging the court to decide the case based on another reason altogether, which the court is allowed to do: that the OB-GYN expert hired by Jeremy's lawyers "did not know whether a C-section would have saved the fetuses." If it wouldn't have helped anyway, should Jeremy be allowed to sue the doctors and hospital for not performing it?

That's the question the three appellate judges were interested in when lawyers met to argue the case in April 2012. To prove their point, the doctors' lawyers relied on a snippet of testimony taken from the OB-GYN expert's deposition. The expert was questioned about perimortem C-section, or a C-section performed at or near the time of a mother's death. When asked if "overall, to a probability," most babies born by perimortem C-section die, he answered in the affirmative.

But Krulewitch argued that the doctors' lawyers took the expert's answer out of context. He only said yes after he was told to disregard how quickly the procedure is done. If a perimortem C-section is performed within five minutes of a mother going into cardiac arrest, the expert testified, the chances of a baby surviving are good.

Perinatologist Vern Katz, who wrote the first paper on perimortem C-sections in 1986, says the standard about when to do one is clear: Start the procedure within four minutes so that the baby can be delivered within five minutes, before brain damage begins.

"You don't listen to [fetal] heart tones, because you can't really tell," says Katz, a clinical professor at Oregon Health and Science University. That's because when an unborn baby is in distress, its heartbeat can slow dramatically, making it hard to detect, he explains. Plus, he says, the emergency room is often hectic. "There's yelling and screaming and moving the mom around. It's very chaotic, and you can't verify whether heart tones are there.

"We say, 'Just go for the baby, period,'" he adds.

A pulmonary embolism, which is what Lori suffered, is "a great reason to do a perimortem C-section," Katz explains. Even if the mother can't be saved, you're "doing it to save the baby." At 28 weeks along, he says, "the babies would have been resuscitatable."

In many cases, doing a C-section within five minutes isn't possible. But it was in Lori's case. "Lori was rolled into the emergency room living and breathing," Gerash says. "The unborn fetuses are in the place where they have the best chance."

But the appellate judges agreed with the doctors, ruling last August that Jeremy "failed to produce any evidence" that the doctors' negligence caused the twins to die.

As for the question of whether fetuses are people under Colorado's wrongful-death law, they left it unanswered, and DU law professor Russell understands why. "No judge in the state wants to be the judge who decides the issue," he says. "Almost no judge wants to write an opinion that says, 'Here's what the wrongful-death statute means.' One way or another, they're going to get a lot of heat for it."

Jeremy and his lawyers, however, believe the issue needs to be decided. So in September, despite their repeated losses and mounting legal costs, they appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

Jeremy's lawyers are asking the high court to answer three questions: Was the appeals court wrong in dodging the issue of whether Jeremy's unborn sons were "people" under the law? Was the appeals court wrong to instead dismiss Jeremy's lawsuit based on that snippet of testimony? And was the court wrong in deciding that the testimony cast doubt on whether the babies would have survived, when it "was subject to more than one reasonable interpretation"?

There is no deadline by which the Supreme Court must decide whether to take the case. If it does, the justices could remand the case back to the appeals court with instructions to decide whether fetuses are people under the wrongful-death law. Or they could answer the question themselves. If they decide fetuses aren't people, the case is over. If they decide they are, Jeremy will be entitled to bring the issue to trial. "The big reason I want to get back into court," Jeremy says, "is to be able to ask why they didn't try to save the boys."

*********

The Stodghill babies are buried in a picturesque section of a Cañon City cemetery that, compared to the rest, seems almost alive. Their gravestone is in the very back, among memorials so un-weathered and new that some bear the names of people who haven't yet died. On a late-December afternoon, many of them are festooned with poinsettias and tinsel.

The Stodghill stone is no exception. Speckled black and grey and hedged by flowers, it bears four names. On one side, underneath an etching of a pine tree and an elk, is Jeremy's name and a single date. On the other, beneath a motorcycle flanked with long-stemmed roses, is Lori's name, followed by two dates. A small bronze-colored plaque in the middle is inscribed with their sons' names, Samuel Edward and Zachary James. They, too, have only one date.

When Libby visits the cemetery, she takes little gifts for her mom and brothers: a small white angel statue that she and her grandmother found at the garden store; a holiday garland; tiny plastic figurines of Winnie the Pooh and Tigger. She lines them up on the stone's base.

"One time, a couple years ago, we had gone out for lunch," Wilson recalls. "She wanted to go have lunch with her mommy. So we took our sandwiches and sat down on the grass."

Jeremy visits, too. On New Year's Eve, the day before the anniversary of Lori's death, he sometimes takes a bottle of champagne and a glass to the cemetery and has a drink with her.

As for the boys, he has precious few mementos. The coroner who performed the autopsy on Lori removed the babies and took photographs, the only ones Jeremy has. In one picture, the boys — one weighing three pounds, two ounces and the other weighing three pounds, four ounces — lie next to each other on a blanket with their heads and knees touching and their eyes closed. If it weren't for the shocking redness of their naked skin, you might think they were napping.

The coroner also took the babies' footprints, as if they had been born in a hospital and not in a morgue. As Lori did with Libby, Jeremy had the tiny sets of feet tattooed on his chest along with the boys' names, the date they died and two simple words, "Our sons."

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265 comments
RightIsRight
RightIsRight

Don't cry hypocrisy. The Catholic Church has the right to do what they feel is right. The Catholic Bishops and the Catholic Church don't have to answer to ANYBODY, not the courts or the people who cry hypocrisy,  or people who cry you hurt my kids or anybody but the Pope and God. That is the way it is and that is the way it always will be. We need more people like Timmy to keep the Catholic Church strong.  

Timmy
Timmy

Instead of crying hypocrisy, their favorite endeavor, one that actually gives them orgasms, liberals, god-haters, and assorted miscreants need to just lobby for a law that recognizes the fetus as a person. That would be the best result of this case. Instead of getting off condemning the Catholic hospital, turn this into something good. Just like the pious holy liberals rushing to ban guns over the graves of the children of Sandy Hook, use the deaths of these two boys to lobby for a law that recognizes the personhood of the fetus.

Timmy
Timmy

Christians are so lucky to have atheists always telling them about the bible and what Jesus would have really thought.

Also, note how many people obsess over the concept of "hypocrisy." For liberals hypocrisy is the biggest sin in the whole wide world. You can do anything you want, even kill millions of innocent babies in the womb, and all of that is excused. Only ONE sin just be confronted and all those found offending must be beat down and condemned, hypocrisy.

The problem with this is that liberals, in giving up all standards and saying that people can do whatever they want, that there is no God judging right and wrong, are hypocritical themselves in taking on the role of God and deciding to judge what THEY see, in their own twisted world view, as hypocritical.

dillonhdillon
dillonhdillon

According to the bible, Adam wasn't alive until God breathed life into him. A biblical scholar would argue that a fetus isn't alive before it takes its first breath.

mmjfreedomusa
mmjfreedomusa

mmjfreedomusa
mmjfreedomusa

IT IS ABOUT A RISK FACTOR DUE TO OBESE FAT! NOW THEY SHOULD SUE..HELL..NO! WHO is to say she would not have CROAKED walking to the Refrig! WHO would they sue then..KING STUPPER? 

mmjfreedomusa
mmjfreedomusa

SHE WAS 400 pounds! Two of the risk factors for the deadly condition are pregnancy and obesity, and Lori was experiencing both.Two of the risk factors for the deadly condition are pregnancy and obesity, and Lori was experiencing both. HAD SHE NOT BEEN A FAT PIG..would this have happened? HELL..O Anti- Abortionists HOW DID GOD help those babies live with out an abortion? A DOCTOR should be liable to make the babies live when SHE AND HER MATE knew OR SHOULD HAVE KNOWN the risks! I think someone should file a claim to pay for the Doctor's and Hospital costs that the SELFISH PIGS INCURRED!

slcutah
slcutah

@Timmy Would it not have been the right thing for the Catholic Church to use this case to advance the idea of fetal personhood instead of just the opposite? Why should it be up to the liberals, god-haters and assorted miscreants to do what the Catholic Church will not do in this case? Have you considered, some people could even be on your side of this issue...and still think the Catholic Church is being hypocritical by undermining your goal of protecting the unborn?

thewreckingbelle
thewreckingbelle

@slcutah @TimmyThe difference between a conservative republican dude and a liberal democrat dude getting busted in the arms of another man is that only the former rails against it. They're both homos, but only one is a hypocrite. 

That's why, to answer the age old FOX news question, sex scandals don't matter for liberals/dems: Because they don't spend all of their time, the lengths of their noses and my tax money trying to legislate other people's bedrooms, sexual desires, and bodies.

Damn, it feels good to be every kind of deviant and know I can never reasonably be accused of hypocrisy. :)

slcutah
slcutah

@Timmy

Hypocrisy is reviled by the atheist, the liberal, but even more so by the bible and, according to that record, by Jesus himself. And for very good reason.

A hypocrite erodes the very foundation of our personhood. Hypocrisy corrodes and contaminates our ability to see ourselves, and how others regard us. Hypocrisy undermines the foundation of trust and understanding that allows us, and more so, is necessary, for all of us to live simultaneously for ourselves and for others.

Our community should be more than us just living and working together; Trading commodities to obtain advantage, profit, power and celebrity over our neighbor. It must be, and if we can find it in ourselves, it will become, a genuine commitment of care and concern for our fellow human beings. As the bible teaches, and the atheist instinctually understands, can be measured by how we treat the least among us.

The religious preach about their highest ideals under threat of damnation, that which atheists offer selflessly from a pure spring of inner goodness, without threat of eternal damnation or bribes of heavenly payoff. Religious or not, we can learn to live with each other as a caring, loving community of trust. But hypocrisy is the enemy of trust. Hypocrisy is the recognition we cannot make ourselves vulnerable, we cannot open our hearts, that hypocrites do not possess fundamental goodness; They will ravage our community, and destroy the very essence and the highest expressions of our humanity...for monetary gain. The hypocrisy of the Catholic Church is manifest. But even the most unfair religious zealot cannot call an atheist a hypocrite. Now, thanks to the acts of the Catholic Church, atheists find themselves on the higher moral ground.

Here we now have the Catholic Church, with their hands, hearts and souls still dirty from their long history of greed, murder and exploitation, foundering in the current crisis resulting from priests and nuns raping, sodomizing and terrorizing the children, orphans, sick and injured; Our most vulnerable, that we once entrusted to their care and “charity”.

Yes Timmy, to the atheist, there is no greater offense than hypocrisy. But especially repugnant, is the hypocrisy of those who assert a claim moral superiority but undermine our sincere desire, hope and expectation of fundamental fairness, our communal commitment to love our neighbor, and our desire to do no harm.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@dillonhdillon ... as some argue that those who are not yet baptized of "original sin" will not make it to Heaven, first breath or not.

Imagine, BILLIONS of zygotes, embryos, foeti and even postpartum babies all burning in hellfire for eternity simply because some vindictive megalomaniac "god" has a self-image problem.


slcutah
slcutah

@mmjfreedomusa Why are you here? Do religious hypocrites now regard weight as a target for hate?

boyoboy
boyoboy

@mmjfreedomusa You sorta missed the whole point of the article.  Aside from the wife, husband is claiming that the hospital should have tried to prevent the fetuses' demise.  I agree that the wife and probably the fetuses would have died no matter what. But, we know the death of the wife and fetuses isn't the issue making headlines.  It's the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church.  They want to force women to birth rape babies under he guise of the personhood of the unborn, but when challenged on the same rights of the unborn, the Catholic Church takes the position they rail against -- that a fetus isn't a person and isn't entitled to legal protection.

Timmy
Timmy

@slcutah @Timmy And if they had used this case to push for personhood the very same people would be condemning them for that! You can't please hate-filled liberal hypocrites.

Timmy
Timmy

@slcutah @Timmy It is just more than a little bit tiresome and annoying having to listen to self-righteous hypocritical liberals, god-haters, and assorted miscreants, constantly bash and berate the Catholic Church and other Christians, and I'm not even Catholic. But the joke is on them, they will have to stand before God one day and answer for their lives. So let them waste their entire life obsessing over all the supposed hypocrites, they will have plenty of time in Hell to think back over all that one day.

FreeAndClear
FreeAndClear

@Timmy Are you playing with yourself???? That's a sin you know. I don't think you are going to get many to follow your advice the way you have word it.

DenverBuncos
DenverBuncos

@thewreckingbelle  You and that other guy are really funny. Pretty serious issues here though. It is good to get a laugh even when things are seriously jammed. 

slcutah
slcutah

@thewreckingbelle   Ummmm...I swear, I wasn't doing nothin', I was just bloggin, just bloggin....and I'm new here, maybe I don't know what bloggin is...how'd I get busted so fast?.....and besides, I don't know that Timmy guy...anyway, I don't think he likes me very much, as well as all liberals..atheists....black people... (most white people too, probably)...widowers who file lawsuits...people who live in dread of religious theocracies....and people who disagree with him...and....and...and...anyway, it was just our first date. Please don't tell my wife wreckingbelle.

Timmy
Timmy

@slcutah @Timmy The problem is that true hypocrisy as discussed in the bible is not the issue, the problem is that liberals deny all rules or standards or conduct, so in doing that they think they cannot therefore be hypocrites. But at the same time they self-righteously pound on those who do try to maintain and call for standards of morality in society, but sometimes, as ALL human beings do, fall short themselves. The liberal is actually using this technique to try to browbeat all Christians into giving up preaching about morality and standards of conduct, since all Christians know they could fall short themselves at some point. So the liberal remains the biggest hypocrite due to this.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@slcutah  ↑ WORD 

Timmy
Timmy

@slcutah Gluttons are going to have to pay serious penalties under Obamacare.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@slcutah ... morbid obesity -- like alcoholism or drug abuse -- is a SELF INFLICTED condition deserving of little sympathy.

slcutah
slcutah

It could only, on the very outside possibility, might begin to speculate, about the merest possibility of being considered sacrilegious if I really believed that God said those things to the Catholic Church...and I don't. 

And on you other point...I agree with all my heart...the people involved with this case are not Jesus...but perhaps we could agree that they should not be running a business in manner that would offend Jesus. 

It is the Catholic Church is making a mockery of the Catholic Church. 

What non-sacrilegious explanation could inspire the Catholic Church to act as they did in this case anyway?


Timmy
Timmy

@slcutah  You are being sacrilegious, making a mockery of this. The people involved were not Jesus, they are people running a business. 

slcutah
slcutah

@Timmy@slcutah

Jesus once found himself in court, accused of being “King of the Jews”.

He could have won his case by claiming he was not that “person” as defined by that court (look it up in your bible, it's true). However, he decided not to go that way, even though it might triple his insurance rates.

Jesus chose to abide by his faith, his teachings and the word of God his father in the court of Pontius Pilate. And back then, it was more than just a matter of cost or legal liability. Jesus was facing the ultimate sacrifice as a penalty. Yet, for some reason, he chose not to say one thing in public, and another thing in court.....even if it meant he might lose his case.

Though it may not, and may never be the winning legal strategy, the word of God was the precedent he chose to follow. Maybe Jesus believed that his actions, his words and his sacrifice would mean something. That his day in court, and what he said in court, and how he conducted himself in court would serve as an example. Maybe he decided it was important to keep his faith and do the right thing.

But who knows?

The Catholic Church claims to know. The Catholic Church proclaims to be the personification of Christ and the temporal link to God on earth. So we must suppose they are now acting on new orders...new updates...new interpretations inspired by and received from God....new directives and strategies that they alone can hear and interpret. That only appear to us mortals without divine access, as hypocritical and contrary.

Maybe God said to the Catholic Church ...get me better lawyers than last time....say whatever it takes to win in court....and sue the damn bastards that brought the case to court in the first place..and BTW, watch out, Obamacare is coming, you need more freedom to act on your own conscience and beliefs, after all, I can't be everywhere you know.... .

If only Jesus asked himself 2000 years ago, WWTCCD (What Would the Catholic Church Do?), and won HIS day in court, we might have a better world today.

Timmy
Timmy

@slcutah  All bets are off when you find yourself in the courts. Who knows, maybe if they had decided to just unilaterally lay down and live outside the law and pay this guy off that might have caused their insurance rates to triple. And with Obamacare breathing down everyone's neck, no one can play around. A hundred years ago, before liberals forced government into everyone's lives, and before government got control of health care, an individual hospital would have had much more freedom to just act on their own conscience and beliefs. Those days are gone, thank liberals, thank government, thank Obama, don't curse the churches for that.

slcutah
slcutah

@Timmy @slcutah   I am sure, people of faith would be happy, even honored to risk condemnation when it comes to defending their faith and beliefs. Perhaps, people like you, who feel so strongly about their fundamental beliefs demonstrate more courage, integrity, purity and consistency of conviction the Catholic Church has exhibited in this case.

Somehow, though I may dispute, and may even be offended by much of what you say, I doubt you could be bought off for a few bucks as easily as the Catholic Church. 

Or am I wrong?  I have read your posts here...do you say you support fetal personhood in one place, and oppose it elsewhere? The Catholic Church does that. Are you on their side here?

FreeAndClear
FreeAndClear

@Timmy @FreeAndClear   Are you talking about the argument just below? Looks like you jumped up and declared yourself the wiener after things got too hot, you looked too dumb, got your butt whipped, lost your cool and then just bailed out. 

If you want us to know what you are talking about, put the "game, set and match" where you claim to have won the game. You just look dumb doing it here. Maybe Germany could have won WWII if they only thought to bail out of Europe and yell  "game, set match" at the South Pole. 

Timmy
Timmy

@FreeAndClear Saying "game, set, match" merely indicates an argument won, it comes from tennis, look it up. A few of the commenters got off on tangents and this post merely summed up the issue. Since they were not able to respond, it was game, set, match. Maybe you should stop playing with yourself and read some of the posts before making such idiotic comments.  

Timmy
Timmy

@slcutah @thewreckingbelle You childish twit, go cry to your mommy, quit being such a sissy crying about how I "don't like" this or that, grow up. And you still haven't responded to my post at the top of the article. It sums up all your idiotic arguments quite nicely, and that is why you remain silent, except for this sort of childish nonsense.

slcutah
slcutah

@Timmy@slcutah    ...and finally, perhaps you are right about one thing, maybe Christian orgs cannot last long following their Christian ideals, however, you are wrong about the other part, the Catholic Church does not need atheists to grind them into the dust...they can do that all by themselves. 

slcutah
slcutah

@Timmy  @slcutah

Maybe it would not be a terrible thing if Catholic organizations followed their Christian ideals. Christianity has lasted about 2,000 years already...Why have they given up on their beliefs and  ideals now?  And as for people against Obamacare, people should of course, retain the right to refuse medical care if that is their decision. But at the very least, even the opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will now have the option to choose life.... is that not what everyone wants? 

slcutah
slcutah

@Timmy  @slcutah
Is it really wrong, as you say, to condemn any religious organization, even the Catholic Church for using the law as it is written to defend their position?  

I would not. But Isaiah and Matthew would. 

Matthew 15:7-9 You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:  '"This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” 


Timmy
Timmy

@slcutah  It is wrong to condemn any organization for using the law as it is written to defend their position. There are many laws where people are forced to live by them even though they believe otherwise. How much casholla was the husband suing for? Was he looking for a big payday? And even if all Christian orgs just gave up on all court cases and instead just followed their Christian ideals, they wouldn't last long, in the real world. Atheists would grind them into the dust. Or what about people against Obamacare, should they just refuse to be cared for and die or be judged a hypocrite?

slcutah
slcutah

@Timmy@slcutah

Yes, my mother did not murder me in the womb. But, according to CHI, the Catholic Hospital System and Saint Thomas More Hospital, if she did...as their lawyers argued in the Stodghill case, she would not have killed a "person". Right?

That is the point of this whole affair. That, is where this instance of the Roman Catholic Church's hypocrisy lies...can we at least agree on that?

Timmy
Timmy

@slcutah @Timmy Apparently you confused sarcasm with hypocrisy. No biggie. At least your mother didn't murder you in the womb.

slcutah
slcutah

@Timmy@slcutah

Don't get mad Timmy. 

I went back to the very beginning of your post. I admit you are right, you made a point and I did not respond. 

Your point: 

"Christians are so lucky to have atheists always telling them about the bible and what Jesus would have really thought." 

My response:

You're welcome.

Timmy
Timmy

@slcutah You can stuff the plank up your rear for all I care. I am not the issue here. Whatever point you were trying to make in that long rambling post, it was not very well put. I made a point, you went off on a tangent, and then I made another point, to which you still have not actually responded. If we are talking past one another that is one thing, it doesn't make me a hypocrite.

slcutah
slcutah

@Timmy@slcutah    ...sigh.   Methinks you do not understand what I am trying to say. Perhaps you have something in your eye. Please take a dose of Matthew 7.5 and apply...liberally. 

bongsucker
bongsucker

@Timmy @slcutah

Gluttony is a sin.

boyoboy
boyoboy

@Timmy @slcutah You'd better notify those who life in the southeast.  They're the fattest in the nation.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Timmy @slcutah  ... as they should.

Just as Alcoholics and Drug Abusers should be forced to bear the burden of their own self-abuse.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@boyoboy ... a chronic smoker who develops lung cancer deserves little sympathy for their self-inflicted suffering.


boyoboy
boyoboy

@DonkeyHotay People often do something to cause or contribute to their own cancers.  Are we now claiming that those cancers are self-inflicted and deserving of little sympathy?  Of course not.  Addiction has a very strong heredity component.  Weight does, too.  The world is a little less black and white than that.

slcutah
slcutah

@DonkeyHotay

Not always. Not every case of obesity, alcoholism, drug abuse or many other ailments are self inflicted. However, failure of compassion, sympathy and understanding are true self inflicted conditions. 

Nevertheless, I enjoy reading and agree with many of your posts. Keep fighting the bad guys, even if that be me.

 
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