Decision to Separate Siamese Twins Is Defended

They Knew the Risks, Says Moral Theologian

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ROME, JULY 9, 2003 ( Despite the tragic outcome, the decision to operate on 29-year-old Iranian Siamese twins Ladan and Laleh Bijani does not pose ethical problems, says a moral theologian.

The twins, who were joined at the head, died on Tuesday at Singapore’s Raffles Hospital, within a few hours of each other.

«It certainly has been very painful,» Father Joseph Gallagher, professor of moral theology at the Alphonsian Academy of Rome, told Vatican Radio. «I absolutely respect the courage of the two women and I think that their decision to go ahead with the surgery was a very courageous moral choice. I am very sorry the operation was not successful.»

Father Gallagher said that the operation did not pose ethical or moral problems.

«It was a very delicate operation, but they both prepared adequately,» he explained. «The doctors certainly measured up to the circumstances, and both the specialists as well as the patients were aware of the possible consequences of the operation.»

Mauro Cozzoli, professor of moral theology at the Lateran University, also defended the justness of the operation. «It was of a healing nature, the condition of life of the two young women was clearly abnormal and, therefore, pathological,» the Ansa agency quoted Cozzoli as saying.

According to the information available, Cozzoli said that «there was no intention to do away with life or to undertake an incautious and opportunist experiment, as it was intended to promote the autonomy and quality of life of two people severely incapacitated by a malformation.»

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