Appeals court to rule today in Siamese twins case

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The Court of Appeal has said it will rule today whether to permit surgery to separate Siamese twins against the wishes of their parents.

The Court of Appeal has said it will rule today whether to permit surgery to separate Siamese twins against the wishes of their parents.

Doctors say that the twins, identified in court as Jodie and Mary, will die within months if they are not separated. Jodie could survive on her own, but Mary could not, the doctors say.

The parents, identified only as Roman Catholics from a European country, appealed against a lower court ruling in favor of surgery. They say that they wish to let "God's will" take its course, and they have been supported by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy O'Connor.

The twins, joined at the lower abdomen, were born Aug. 8 at St. Mary's Hospital in Manchester.

The three judges hearing the case have said they contacted colleagues in Australia, South Africa and Canada but had found no precedent to guide them.

Two medical specialists appointed by the court to review the case endorsed surgery.

During hearings earlier this month, Tim Owen, a barrister appointed to represent Jodie's interest, argued that Mary had no chance of long-term survival, and it was "unreal" to consider Mary's interests separately from those of Jodie.

"Without Jodie, Mary will die. With Mary, Jodie will die," Owen said.

"The purpose of the operation is wholly to maintain life and not to accelerate death by mercy killing or otherwise," Owen said.

David Harris, a lawyer appointed to represent Mary's interests, argued that she had an interest in continuing her life unless proven otherwise.

"Although this is a life of short duration very severely handicapped, there is insufficient evidence that it is so intolerable as to render it in the child's best interests that it should end," Harris said.

The parents, in a statement read in court on Sept. 4, said the had come to England "to give our babies the very best chance for life in the very best place."

"Now things have gone very badly wrong and we find ourselves in this very difficult situation. ... We believe that nature should take its course. If it's God's will that both our children should not survive then so be it," they said.

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