The Catholic Union of Great Britain

Third Press Release on the Conjoined Twins

7th November 2000

  1. The outcome of surgery on the conjoint twins is not to be measured by the quality of life of the survivor. Rather a fault has entered the legal system which will spread throughout our laws and those of other countries whose laws follow out own like a computer virus

  2. In the court's own words it is not a court of morals but when the gap is as great as it is now, where is the protection of the weak and vulnerable? This judgement is part of a pattern which have a number of features in common. The weakest and most disabled die or are not treated and are described in pejorative terms Mary was a "parasite" or "aggressor". Tony Bland was "one of the living dead" and "grotesquely alive", phrases which if used by a doctor would have led to them being disciplined.

  3. Nor can the ethical principle of double effect, the foreseen but unintended ill effect, be appealed to when what is involved is bodily invasion and a lethal action. It was a case of illegitimate means being used towards an otherwise acceptable end.

  4. "Mary's" skin must have been used to close the defect with "Jodie". The implications in a world hungry for organs from those "destined to die", to use another phrase from the judgement, are very worrying. The medical establishment is already calling for presumed consent which seriously diminishes the voluntariness of organ donation.

  5. No one wishes the parents who refused more than one offer of abortion, anything but prayers and support. Their ordeal away from their own country and crushed by the power of a foreign law was truly terrible. We can only wish "Jodie" a good future. The real losers are conscientious parents, the weak, dying and very disabled.

  6. Why, we ask, did this ever go to law when the palliative option was still open to all parties? It can only be that a decision based on love and faith was incomprehensible and somehow intolerable to a secular society?

Signed Dr A P Cole
Joint Ethico-Medical Committee of the Catholic Union
and Guild of Catholic Doctors

See previous press statement on conjoined twins

See first press statement on conjoined twins