April 12, 2024

Conjoined twins “a blessing” says UK mother

Brittany and Abigail Hensel at 16A
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  

Carolyn Moynihan