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A Catholic Hospital Is Arguing That a Fetus Is Not a Person

Legally, the argument is sound. Colorado, the state, does not define a fetus as a person. But what kind of blatant hypocrisy would motivate a Catholic hospital to argue in court that only individuals born alive are people?

These intros are generally where I get to spend a few hundred words on my electronic soapbox, trying to take a recent news story and place it into the general context of Why Religion Is Bad. This week, however, there's a story that needs no extra extrapolation on my part. It, by itself, will suffice.

Back in 2006, a 31-year-old pregnant woman in Denver began experiencing a shortness of breath and vomiting. Her husband rushed her to the ER at St. Thomas More hospital, a medical facility owned and operated by the company Catholic Health Initiatives. While there, doctors checked for the pulses of the woman's seven-month-old fetuses (she was having twin boys), and upon finding none, decided against performing a perimortem Cesarean section. Short thereafter, the mother died from a massive heart attack. The twin fetuses inside of her also perished. Where the story gets tricky is later, when the husband decides to file a wrongful-death suit against the hospital. His point of view is that if a doctor ordered the C-section, while his wife may still have died, it's feasible to think his twin sons may have still made it out alive.


Now, whenever it comes to lawsuits, lawyers on both sides are forced to play the intricate game of massaging legal nomenclature. “What does the word 'the' mean?” Shit like that. In this instance, the lawyer for the Catholic hospital is using the following argument:

“[The court] should not overturn the long-standing rule in Colorado that the term 'person,' as is used in the Wrongful Death Act, encompasses only individuals born alive. Colorado state courts define 'person' under the Act to include only those born alive. Therefore Plaintiffs cannot maintain wrongful death claims based on two unborn fetuses.”

Legally, the argument is sound. Colorado, the state, does not define a fetus as a person, so the case looks kind of like the hospital may succeed in getting the lawsuit thrown out of court. But, also, and most importantly, a Catholic institution is arguing that a fetus is not a person. 

Onto the roundup! - After Prince Harry compared the act of killing Islamist militants to video games, a Taliban spokesperson said that dude's got to have “mental problems.” - In and around Baghdad, a series of car bombings killed at least 17 people. Later in the week, a suicide bombing at a Shia mosque in Iraq left at least 23 people dead. - Texas public schools evidently teach that the Earth is 6,000 years old. - CIA agent John Kiriakou pled guilty to leaking the name of a fellow officer who was water-boarding detainees. While his attorneys argued Kiriakou should be protected by the “whistleblower” defense, that kind of legal logic has no place in the US military, meaning he was sentenced to 30 months in prison. - Boko Harem in Nigeria went crazy on Wednesday, killing 23 people in a market, targeting those who were gambling or selling “forbidden” meat—both big no-nos in Sharia law. Then he beheaded at least three people in the northeast city of Maiduguri.


- 52-year-old David Headley was found guilty of assisting the militants who carried out the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that left more than 160 people dead. His role was scouting locations, but he also revealed that he had planned an attack on the Danish newspaper that published cartoons of Muhammed, which would have resulted in the beheading of the entire staff. Yikes. - In Pakistan, two rival Islamist militant groups (Tehrek-e-Taliban and Ansarul Islam) have begun scuffling near the Afghanistan border, the latest flurry of attacks leaving at least 24 dead.

- This was from my week off, but it still needs to be mentioned: Remember that horrific story from India regarding a women being gang-raped on a bus and, ultimately, dying from her injuries? Merely a week later, a creepily-similar incident occurred, seven men gang-raping a woman on a bus, this time with the bus driver acting as an accomplice. - The Guardian detailed how the Vatican has been spending the last 80-plus years building up a global property empire with money that was given to the church back in 1929 by Mussolini, payment for the papacy legitimizing his fascist regime. In other words, the church continues to profit from helping a facilitate a dictator's takeover.

- A female GOP state representative from New Mexico presented a bill that'd prevent women who are raped and impregnated from getting an abortion because they would be “tampering with evidence.”


- If you haven't been following the saga of Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and his fake dead girlfriend, well, it's a pretty amazing story that you should spend the next half hour getting caught up on. It's a bit too labyrinthian of a tale for me to do a legitimate job of summing up here. In any case, one of the side-stories was that Te'o's mother apparently spent a good amount of time trying to coerce her son's girlfriend, who didn't exist, to convert to Mormonism.

- With arguments surrounding the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8 just about to get underway in the Supreme Court, a whole lot of crazies started coming out of the woodwork to do some protesting.

- The LA Times has a pretty great story about a sexually-abusive priest, and how one of his victims found solace after reading the priest's confession.

- Speaking of priests gone wrong, in Philadelphia, a Franciscan friar, who was accused of sexually abusing children in Ohio and Pennsylvania, killed himself.

- And Our Person of the Week: Generally, this space is allocated to those who stand up in the face of religious dogma. This week, though, the title is going to whatever motherfucker owns this amazing anti-abortion truck. Because, c'mon, just look at it.

Previously - Subtle Forces