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The BBC's Niall Dickson
"The Judges have to decide whether it is lawful to end Mary's life"
 real 56k

Family lawyer, John Kitchingman
"The parents feel it would be wrong to change the natural course of the children's conditions"
 real 56k

The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"The case is much more complicated than originally thought"
 real 28k

Siamese twin, Lori Schappell
Discusses her positive experience growing up as a siamese twin
 real 28k

Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 06:17 GMT 07:17 UK
Expert to see Siamese twins
John Kitchingman
Parents' lawyer John Kitchingman arrives for the appeal
An independent expert is to give his opinion on whether to separate the two Siamese twins who are at the centre of a court battle.


I cannot but wonder [whether] a second opinion might be of value if only to confirm the views already expressed and to allay any public concern

Lord Justice Ward
Three judges at the Court of Appeal have asked for a second medical examination as they decide whether to uphold a ruling that the twin girls be surgically separated, which would result in the death of the weaker of the two children.

In August, a judge ruled that the babies - known under the false names of Jodie and Mary - should be separated after hearing that both would die within months if the surgery were not performed.

However, the girls' Roman Catholic parents, who are from overseas, object to the separation because they say it is "not God's will" and want nature to take its course, even if that means that both their children will die.

'Allay concern'

A doctor from Great Ormond Street children's hospital in London is to examine the twins on Tuesday and report back to the court on Wednesday.

Great Ormond Street is regarded as one of the foremost children's hospitals in the country, and its surgeons have carried out operations to separate Siamese twins in the past.

St Mary's Hospital, Manchester
The girls are being treated at St Mary's Hospital, Manchester
Lord Justice Ward, one of the three appeal judges, said the case of the twins had raised complex issues - in particular, whether it would amount to the unlawful killing of Mary, the weaker twin, if the babies were allowed to be separated.

The judge said: "I cannot but wonder [whether] a second opinion might be of value if only to confirm the views already expressed and to allay any public concern," he said.

The twins were born in Manchester on 8 August after their parents travelled from their Mediterranean home for the birth.

Jodie and Mary are joined by their lower abdomens, and share one heart and one pair of lungs. If the operation goes ahead to separate them, Mary will die.

The twins' parents have said that allowing one of the daughters to die for the sake of the other would go against their Catholic faith.

'Heartbreaking'

The parents' barrister, Simon Taylor, quoted his clients as saying they had come to England to give their then unborn daughters "the very best chance in the very best place", but things had gone wrong and they now found themselves in a very difficult situation.

He said the parents had reached a "heartbreaking" decision that they could not kill one of their daughters to allow the other to survive as, in their view, that was not God's will.

Mr Justice Johnson
The ruling to separate the twins was made by Mr Justice Johnson
A second issue arising from their religious beliefs was that they did not want treatment given which could prolong matters.

Mr Taylor said: "They don't want either of their daughters to be actively killed, but they also say: 'We recognise the dire prognosis without separation, and we don't want to prolong matters by active treatment'."

The girls' parents also fear that Jodie would face a life of suffering if she were to survive and return home where there was little access to proper care and where there was concern over attitudes towards disability.

Another lawyer for the parents, John Kitchingman, said that if their appeal failed, they would take it to the House of Lords, or to the European Court of Human Rights.

Surgeons will not perform the operation until the legal position is made clear.

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Siamese twins
Should the parents have the final say?

Siamese twins' parents face the ultimate test
Religion vs medicine

See also:

04 Sep 00 | UK
The ultimate test of faith
25 Aug 00 | Health
Siamese twins 'must be separated'
25 Aug 00 | Q-S
Siamese twins
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