A British couple who have refused to terminate the lives of their unborn, conjoined twins are attracting world attention — some of it quite negative. The twins are dicephalus, having two heads but one body, and it is not yet known (they were diagnosed at nine weeks) whether they share one heart. The condition is quite rare; no such twins have ever survived birth in the UK. Telegraph columnist Liz Hunt regards the decision not to abort the twins at an early stage “irredeemably selfish”, based on “sentimentality” and condemning the children to a life (if they survive birth) which “could evolve into something little better than a freak show”.
The twins’ mother, Lisa Chamberlain, says she doesn’t care if people regard the babies as freakish “because I feel blessed. To me, my twins were a gift from God and we’re determined to give them a chance of life.” Lisa and her husband Mike have been trying to have a baby for seven years; he says they have taken hope from the case of Abigail and Brittany Hensel, 18-year-old dicephalus twins (pictured) in the US who lead relatively normal lives despite sharing a liver and a rib cage.
Ms Hunt says she condemns abortion of fetuses because of deformities such as club feet, cleft palates, webbed fingers and toes, or chromosomal abnormalities such as Down syndrome, but that it is “the right decision” in cases such as these twins.
It is her view, however, that is based on sentimentality (sparing the children a possibly awful life as media curiosities) rather than ethical principle (acceptance of all human life, no matter how deformed) and it suggests a personal selfishness that recoils from human deformity, rather than a compassion which wants to spare the children the heartless curiosity of others — and other things which may never happen. ~ Telegraph (UK), Jan 12