Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"It doesn't matter to me whether they can be separated or not"

I can't help thinking of the recent report of conjoined twins born in Vancouver on 25th October 2006.
The twins are craniopagal, which means that they are joined at the head and share just one brain, and so any separation (and I don't think anyone is suggesting that they should not be separated, which is interesting in itself) will result in either one or both losing out on that brain.
The mother, who has her own health problems and lives on welfare, seems distressingly vague about it all, and she is quoted as saying
"It doesn't matter to me whether they can be separated or not".
Doesn't that seem a little strange to you? The grandmother describes them as "kinda cute". The father hasn't been seen or heard of since the birth, and I can guess why.
Despite the mother's vacancy and the father's absenteeism, the moral issues seem to be exercising the thoughts of the medical profession and the media, and you have to wonder whether it wasn't ill-advised to allow the birth (especially given that the circumstances were well-known at a very early stage).
There has been very little focus on just how much the separation procedure would cost the tax-payer (although, from what I can gather, we are talking about $4-5 million) and what that kind of money could have been used for.
Tricky moral territory, I know, but I had the same qualms when an Afghan boy was brought over to Canada about a year ago for some incredibly complex and expensive medical treatment not available in the wasteland which remains where Afghanistan used to be. Even then, there seemed to be little or no discussion over whether this wasn't a callous mis-allocation of scarce funds, and over such incidentals as how many people had died in Afghanistan while this sentimental media circus was going on.

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