Surgeons begin separation of twins

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Surgeons began a lengthy operation this morning to separate conjoined twins whose fate had been the subject of a legal battle. Only one of the twins is expected to survive.

Surgeons began a lengthy operation this morning to separate conjoined twins whose fate had been the subject of a legal battle. Only one of the twins is expected to survive.

A statement from St. Mary's Hospital in Manchester confirmed that the surgery had begun, with up to 20 staff members involved.

The girls, identified publicly only as "Mary" and "Jodie," were born on August 8 joined at the lower abdomen. Doctors say surgery could allow Jodie to have a normal life, but that Mary would not survive.

If the girls were not separated, doctors said, they would both die within months.

The twins' parents - identified only as Roman Catholics from the Maltese island of Gozo in the Mediterranean - decided not to contest a September 22 decision by the Court of Appeal that the girls can be separated.

A late appeal by the Pro-Life Alliance, an anti-abortion group which wanted the case to be decided in the House of Lords, was rejected by a judge on Friday.

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