Judges order separation of Siamese twins

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The Independent Online

Siamese twins Jodie and Mary must be separated, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Siamese twins Jodie and Mary must be separated, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Three judges sitting in London said doctors must go ahead with the operation which will save healthy Jodie's life - but mean death for weaker Mary.

Experts said both girls will die, probabably within months, if they are not separated.

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

The appeal was brought by the twins' devout Roman Catholic parents who objected to last month's High Court decision to separate the sisters.

The couple, from the Mediterranean island of Gozo, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said it should be left to God's will to decide.

They were supported by the Roman Catholic archbishop of Westminster, Cormac Murphy O'Connor.

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."

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 September 4, said the had come to England "to give our babies the very best chance for life in the very best place".

They added: "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."