Cojoined twins... euthanasia?!


#1

Has everybody seen this new story?

story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=564&ncid=564&e=7&u=/nm/20050219/ts_nm/egypt_baby_dc

In case the link doesn’t work:
A baby was born with a “parasitic” cojoined twin, manifested as an extra head. The extra head (they’re joined at the top of their heads) never developed a body below the collar bone or so. This head “blinks and smiles” (like Terry Schiavo, I guess) and is “incapable of life on its own” (again, like Terry Schiavo.)

Anyway, at this point, the surgery to separate them/remove extra head has been successful.

While the article did say that the head smiles and blinks, no other details were given… did they parents name it (her?)

Isn’t this a person? Is it OK to separate them, even if it means certain death for one?

I’m very weirded out and disturbed by this!


#2

its really unfortunate, but the truth is that the second baby or head whatever you want to call it could not be fed could not sustain itself. Eventually that head would die and cause certian death for the other baby…i think this is a case of having to save one’s girl’s life and as a result the other dies.
The second head used the blood supply and food supply of the healtheir twin, this is sometimes in the case of conjoined twins with both fully functioning bodies…


#3

What we must remember is that if the surgery is done in such a way as to seperate the head of the one baby from the other person without directly attacking that other babies own body, then it is not murder. This is similar to a case of a pregnant woman who must have a hystorectomy in order to live. Their is no direct attack on the unborn baby, but the unfortunate outcome is the death of the baby. We must use the principle of double effect. First, the act must not be inherently evil. Seperation of conjoined twins is not evil (its done in other scenarios and no one argues against the act itself). Second, the death of the second child must not be intended which it was not. The purpose of the act was not to kill the other child (to check this use a counter-factual statement: would i still do this procedure if the other child did not die. yes we would so we do not intend the death of the child). Third, the good must not come from the evil. This is also true because the death of one child does not cause the other to live. One lives because of the operation, and the other unfortunately dies because of the operation. Finally, the evil must be proportional to the good which it is, one life is saved while the other dies. Hope this helped although it is a sad story and if that head were a person (only God truly knows), then he/she will be with God. Since we don’t know, we must treat it as a person.


#4

I was having trouble with this too, but I now agree that the Principle of Double Effect is being carried out here. They did not surgically kill the twin, but rather performed a surgery to save and preserve the life of the fully developed child. The death of the twin is a secondary, and most unfortunate, outcome.

Of course I can’t be certain of this, since I don’t have all the facts, but it seems to be a case of double effect on the face of it.


#5

Well, I have a few things to say. If a pregnant woman has a hystorectomy in order to live, what’s the difference between that and a pregnant woman having an abortion because she would die in childbirth?


Also, that picture simply does not look real to me. Furthermore I get the NY Times and I didn’t see anything like that in it. I’m giving it a 50/50 that it’s probably photoshopped.


#6

[quote=Adam Costanzo]Well, I have a few things to say. If a pregnant woman has a hystorectomy in order to live, what’s the difference between that and a pregnant woman having an abortion because she would die in childbirth?


[/quote]

An abortion is a medical procedure designed with the intent of killing a baby. If a woman is going to die due to childbirth, there is nothing immoral in attempting to remove the child from the body through alternate means(c-section, etc.) If the baby dies as a result as any of the procedures, that is an unfortunate consequence, but it is not the goal of hte operation to kill the baby, rather to save the life of the mother. Therefore it is not an abortion.

I agree that this principle applies in this case as well: You are saving the life of the first baby at the unfortunate cost of the life of the second. Hopefuly, it was baptised before it was removed.

I severly dislike, however, in the news article, the doctor refers to the second child as “the parasite” instead of her sibling.

Josh


#7

I have some question as to whether the “parasitic head” was really a separate person at all. The article I read indicated that this type of situation occurs when an embryo begins to split as it would when developing into identical twins but the splitting process is never completed. Thus the argument could be made that the end result was simply the growth and development of one embryo – it developed abnormally, similar to those who grow an extra finger on their hands. All parts share the same genetic information, arise from the same fertilized egg, and do not for a moment have a separate physical existence, other than on the cellular level.

I think the argument could be made that this was one child with two heads rather than two children with one body.


#8

Well, I have a few things to say. If a pregnant woman has a hystorectomy in order to live, what’s the difference between that and a pregnant woman having an abortion because she would die in childbirth?

Is the intent of the first the death of the child? No. Is the intent of the second the death of the child? Yes. Would the first procedure be done even if the child lived? Yes. Would the second procedure be done if the child would live? No (it’s an abortion after all).

Completely different situations.


#9

[quote=Adam Costanzo]****
Also, that picture simply does not look real to me. Furthermore I get the NY Times and I didn’t see anything like that in it. I’m giving it a 50/50 that it’s probably photoshopped.
[/quote]

I have seen this a few times in a lot of news papers and I do believe that this is true.


closed #10

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