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Colorado case highlights conflict between morality and law

The Colorado Supreme Court has declined to hear arguments in an appeal of a Canon City fetal injury case that has received national attention. At issue in the case is whether wrongful death liability can be applied to a fetus.

It is not unheard of for plaintiffs in medical malpractice cases to allege wrongful death. It is also not unheard of for a defendant to argue a defense that seems to contradict their expressed beliefs. What is unusual is when a defendant in a medical malpractice case is a religious organization and prevails in the case on an argument that it admits is immoral.

The plaintiff alleged wrongful death against a hospital owned by the Roman Catholic Church and the doctor attending his wife after the wife died of a heart attack in the hospital. The woman was seven months pregnant with twins at the time of her death. The husband alleged wrongful death not only of his wife, but also wrongful death of the unborn twins. The plaintiff alleges that the doctor made inadequate efforts to save the unborn twins after the mother's heart attack. The hospital argued that it could not be sued for the wrongful death of the unborn twins as they were not legally persons since they had not yet been born. This argument contradicts the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. The church opposes abortion because it believes that the unborn are human beings at the moment of conception.

Those who have lost a loved one while undergoing medical care should speak with an attorney who is familiar with wrongful death statutes. Medical malpractice issues are often complex and require a knowledgeable attorney.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Colorado Supreme Court Rejects Catholic Health Case, Punts On Fetal Rights", John Tomasic, May 06, 2013

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