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COnjoined Twins: the cutting edge

Clucas, Rob; O'Donnell, Kath


Kath O'Donnell


Does medical possibility entail legal and ethical necessity? Continuing advances in medicine prompt this question, which has been brought sharply into focus in the last few years by the issue of the separation of conjoined twins. Is separation morally and legally permissible if one life may be saved at the expense of another? The Court of Appeal has claimed to provide a definitive answer (at least for incompetent children) in Re A (children) (conjoined twins) [2000] 4 All ER 961 but we contend that much of the reasoning in the case is flawed. The case exposes the shortcomings of the welfare principle, and side-steps the crucial importance of explicit and inescapable moral and theoretical legal argument. We argue that it may be possible to justify separation in some circumstances and we provide a coherent framework of moral and legal reasoning in order to do so, starting with conceptions of law. Our application of this framework involves a morally objectivistic legal idealism, based upon Gewirth's Principle of Generic Consistency.


Clucas, R., & O'Donnell, K. (2002). COnjoined Twins: the cutting edge. Web Journal of Current Legal Issues, 2002(5),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 31, 2002
Online Publication Date Dec 2, 2002
Publication Date Dec 2, 2002
Deposit Date Apr 1, 2022
Journal Web Journal of Current Legal Issues
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2002
Issue 5
Public URL
Publisher URL