DENVER (AP) - A Catholic hospital on Monday acknowledged it was "morally wrong" for its attorneys to argue in court that a fetus is not a human being under Colorado law.
The admission comes after executives of Catholic Healthcare Initiatives met with Colorado's Roman Catholic bishops to discuss its defense in a wrongful death lawsuit filed after a mother and her unborn twins died in the emergency room of St Thomas More Medical Center in Canon City in 2006.
Disclosure of the hospital's successful legal arguments last month drew sharp criticism because they appeared to contradict church doctrine that life begins at conception. Colorado's bishops vowed to review the case. Catholic Healthcare Initiatives operates Thomas More and dozens of other Catholic hospitals.
In joint statements released Monday morning, the Bishops and CHI said the operation was "unaware" of the lawyers' legal arguments. They said that CHI executives acknowledged "it was morally wrong" to make that contention because it "directly contradicts the moral teachings of the Church."
The statements also noted that, while the legal status of the fetus was key to getting the case dismissed before trial, the hospital also won on appeal by arguing there was no proof that medical error caused the fetuses' deaths. The father of the unborn children is asking the Colorado Supreme Court to hear the case.
The Bishops and CHI extended their condolences to the family. They also pledged to pursue stronger legal protections for unborn children.
"Catholic healthcare institutions are, and should, be held to the high standard of Jesus Christ himself, who is our divine and eternal healer," said the Bishops' statement.