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In re A
England and Wales Court of Appeal
 4 All ER 961 (2000)
Conjoined twins Jodie and Mary were born joined at the lower abdomen. Each twin had her own brain, heart, lungs, other vital organs, arms, and legs. Mary’s heart and lungs were too weak to pump oxygen and blood throughout her body without Jodie’s assistance via a common artery. If Mary had been born alone in this condition, she would have died shortly after birth. The medical personnel (plaintiffs) responsible for the twins’ care all believed that the girls were separate individuals with separate brains and organs, personalities, and habits. Surgical separation of the twins would involve severing the common artery, resulting in Mary’s death minutes later. Not separating the twins surgically would result in both children dying within three to six months because Jodie’s heart would fail due to the extra effort of keeping her sister’s blood oxygenated. The twins’ parents (defendants) would not consent to the operation because they felt that the twins were equal persons who both deserved to live and that allowing Mary to die would be murder. The parents were devout Roman Catholics who could not agree to kill one child to save the other. The twins’ doctors believed the operation would give Jodie a worthwhile life although Mary would lose her life. The medical personnel responsible for the twins’ care petitioned the court to decide the twins’ legal rights as separate persons for purposes of performing the surgery.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Ward, J.)
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