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
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: Suggested Citation