Colorado Supreme Court won't review Jeremy Stodghill lawsuit over death of fetuses

The Colorado Supreme Court will not take up an appeal from a man who sued a Roman Catholic hospital over the deaths of his pregnant wife and their unborn twins.

The court on Monday denied Jeremy Stodghill's request to review the dismissal of his wrongful death lawsuit. It didn't explain its decision.

Lori Stodghill died of pulmonary emboli on Jan. 1, 2006 at St. Thomas More Hospital in Canon City, according to a district court judge's summary judgment on the case in 2010. At the time of her death, Stodghill was pregnant with twins who did not survive.

Stodghill's husband, Jeremy, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couple's daughter, Elizabeth.

In contrast to typical Church doctrine, lawyers for Catholic Healthcare Initiatives, which owns the hospital's operator, argued the wrongful death claims should be dismissed because fetuses aren't human beings under state law. The church's stance is that life begins at conception.

Catholic Healthcare Initiatives later said the court argument was morally wrong.

Lawyers for Stodghill argued that a viable fetus should be considered a person for the purposes of the statute. However, the judge sided with the hospital.

"The Colorado general assembly is and has been free to extend the scope of the wrongful death statute to causes of action on behalf of unborn fetuses, viable or not. To date, it has chosen not to do so," Judge David Thorson wrote.

The ruling was affirmed by the court of appeals in August of 2012 and appealed to the State Supreme Court on Sept. 9, 2012, court spokesman Rob McCallum said.

McCallum pointed out that the Supreme Court accepts only a small fraction of the cases appealed to them and they did not take up this case.

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