Head-counting vs. heart-counting: An examination of the recent case of the conjoined twins from Malta

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Abstract

This paper reexamines the recent case of the conjoined twins from Malta. Survival was said to be possible only through separation, which would actually leave only one twin alive. The parents refused to allow the killing of one to save the other, but the court ruled that this would amount to the neglect of innocent life. The article questions the assumption that the case is indeed a struggle between two people. Further, it questions the assumption that a conjoined twin's natural interest and wish is separation. Historical evidence shows that many conjoined twins do not wish for separation, even when it becomes a question of survival. The article concludes with a critical evaluation of the tendency in contemporary society and particularly in bioethics to regard ethical challenges as rivalry between individuals competing for scarce resources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-605
Number of pages13
JournalPerspectives in Biology and Medicine
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

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