Baby born with two heads: Legal and medical implications.

FromDR1 News:

Obviously we cannot infer from this in what condition is ther “other head” but other news sources mention “two complete brains”. But, could it be possible that it “feels”. Wouldn’t “it/she” have some rights too.

I know these questions are somewhat stupid. I am just wondering what makes one “human”. If it is a brain, then we have two baby girls, and separating them would be to comdemn one to certain death. Is there any legal/medical opinion on cases like this from an ethical standpoint?

There was a TV documentary a couple of years ago about another case similar to this. The girl(s) were about 6 at the time and seemed to be really well adjusted. Playing, singing, riding a bike. I’ll try to find a link.

Here’s a link about them.

Is this a form of conjoined twins, or is it somehow a second head grown onto an otherwise normal person? I’m pretty sure the case that *dejahma is referring to was that of conjoined twins with two completely seperate heads and spinal cords, but only one set of arms and legs.

But we are not talking about two girls. It is just one girl and an extra head with a complete brain.

I am trying to find a picture.

Both cases are conjoined twins.

The legal ramifications of such cases have yet to be fully explored. It should prove interesting. Two brains, one vagina. Will society allow them to legally marry? Both to one person? Two?

Hey - they can hang out with the [url=“”]Hensel Twins[\url]!

I must strongly disagree. Two brains, two heads, two personalities. Each brain controls one side of the body.

How can you call this one girl with an extra head?



The Hensel Twins.

I am not talking about the Hensel twins. The one born in our country is apparently one girl with a complete body and an extra head at the top of the her head. They look like a girl with a very large head (a la Coneheads). I don’t think that the “incomplete” sister can control anything.

"The baby girl’s second head is attached to her first head and shows some parts of the face not defined. "

Now I understand, Mighty_girl.

I do believe that if the second head is capable of independent perception and cognition, it ought to qualify for selfhood, though.

So, no legal precedents on the “selfhood” and rights of conjoined twins when one or both have no chance of survival after separation?

ok, I didn’t get all that from the first post or from the referenced article. I think this type of cojoining is called “acardiac” However, the same ethical issues come up every time. Do a google seach on cojoined twins and read about angela and amy ??? from 1993.

BTW cojoined twins have apparently gotten married frequently. Cheng & Eng, the Tocci brothers (also married sisters), Violet and Daisy hilton.

True, but they did have separate genitals in all those cases, I believe. Abby and Brittany seem to be the first case where there’s a true case of “two heads, one body” with fairly normal symmetry.

I think the moral, ethical, social, and legal issues raised by their situation will be fascinating. I hope they’ll be able to lead lives where their choices are respected.

I saw something similar on a program about medical “anomalies.” It was a Chinese chap (circa 1978) who had a partially-formed face on the side of his head. There was a partially-formed eye-socket, nose, and mouth. When he moved his “real” mouth, the parasitic mouth would also move. There was also a partial additional “brain.” Part of this program detailed the surgery to remove the parasitic face.

Sounds like this case crosses the line between “conjoined twin” and “parasitic twin.” I sure hope the brain that belongs the partial face doesn’t function…

Somewhere on the web, and I’ve lost the cite because it was so disturbing, are pictures of such cases. Sometimes there’s a face on either side of one oversized head.

If you follow through the links on bughunter’s website, you will go from conjoined twins to parasitic twins to limbless people to various other deformities. Fascinating and repulsive all at the same time!!


That website was fascinating and unsettling. The parasitic twin thing raises an interesting issue: If a parasitic twin is growing out of your body, and will kill you eventually, is it ethical to attempt to separate or operate, causing the death of the rudimentary twin?

I don’t really see a legal issue here. There have been many cases of parents going ahead with an operation to seperate conjoined twins knowing perfectly well that one will die.

Oh sure they try to save them both but from the get go, both the parents and doctors know which one won’t survive.

Selfhood is not defined in anyway by the brain. There are cases where babies are born with poorly developed brains where there is just enuff “Brain Stem” to keep the baby alive and breathing but not much else. This person is no less a self.

The Tocci twins had only one set of lower limbs and one set of genitalia.