Killing Mary to save Jodie : the sacrificial separation of conjoined twins : does the end justify the means?
Law and morality have long ensured that the killing of innocent people is prohibited. However, in 2000, the English Court of Appeal in Re A (children) (conjoined twins: surgical separation)  Fam 147 sanctioned an operation to separate conjoined twin babies Jodie and Mary, an operation that would give Jodie a normal life, but would result in Mary's instant death. Left conjoined both twins would die within six months. Through in-depth case analysis, this thesis explores how and why each judge who considered this case found resoundingly in favour of the operation. In this exploration the three separate means used to justify the killing - self-defence, necessity, and the finding that there was no intention to cause death - are found to be highly questionable; longstanding precedent is evaded and the traditional boundaries of the law are expanded. This thesis finds such strategies a natural result of the moral attitudes towards life that are revealed within the judgments. Each judge through utilitarianism and an evaluation of the potential quality of the girls' lives, finds that the operation is morally justified, and works towards finding that it is also legally justified. The core of this thesis is that these attitudes to life, which amount to a very personal - and arbitrary - judgement of the comparative worth of each girl's life, are contrary to the inherent equal sanctity of all human life. This intrinsic value provides the foundation to the murder laws and is affirmed by the judges in Re A. It is found that the judges wrongly claim that their judgments respect the intrinsic value of life. In its conclusion, this thesis does not pass judgement on the moral aptitude of the decision that was made. However, it does conclude that the application of the law was unsatisfactory, and that this could have widespread influence. This is likely to be felt throughout the common law world, and accordingly this thesis considers the position in Queensland where Re A has already been followed, and the position in New Zealand should the situation arise there. Throughout, this thesis canvasses the potential effects of Re A; upon other conjoined twins cases, upon the scope of the defences of necessity and self-defence, and upon the way that human life is valued.
Advisor: Henaghan, Mark
Degree Name: Master of Laws (LLM)
Degree Discipline: Law
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis