The Management of Severely Malformed Newborn Infants: The Case of Conjoined Twins

International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 73, pp. 69-75, 2001

7 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2006

See all articles by Bernard Dickens

Bernard Dickens

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law

Abstract

The birth of 'Siamese' twins in August 2000 whose parents refused to consent to surgery for separation required English courts to decide whether the twins could lawfully be separated despite that refusal when one twin would certainly die as a direct surgical result. The Court of Appeal unanimously upheld the trial judge's decision to authorize surgery, taking account of principles of family law, criminal law and human rights law. Parental duties to the viable twin were found consistent with the justification of allowing, without intending, natural death of the non-viable twin. The right to human dignity of both twins supported the justification of separation surgery. The decision did not elevate physicians' choices over parents', but subjected both to the law. The hospital was found entitled to bring the case to court, but not obliged; it could have declined surgery in conformity with the parents' wishes.

Keywords: Conjoined twins, 'Siamese' twins, Court-approved surgery, Parental powers, Parental consent, Separation of conjoined twins, Twin births, Malformed infants

JEL Classification: I18, K19

Suggested Citation

Dickens, Bernard and Cook, Rebecca J., The Management of Severely Malformed Newborn Infants: The Case of Conjoined Twins. International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Vol. 73, pp. 69-75, 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=946455

Bernard Dickens (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 and 84 Queen's Park
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4849 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

Rebecca J. Cook

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

78 Queen's Park Cr.
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2C5
Canada
416-978-4446 (Phone)
416-978-7899 (Fax)

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