The Conjoined Twins Dilemma: Shnayim Mehalchin B’derech, T’nu Lanu Echad Mi’khem and Rodef
In fall 1977, conjoined twin girls were born to a Jewish couple in New Jersey. A team of twenty leading doctors and nurses assembled in Philadelphia at Children’s Hospital to separate the twins in a difficult surgery that raised serious halachic and ethical issues. A painful and tragic decision needed to be made since the twin’s shared heart could fail at any moment; without surgically separating the twins there was no hope for survival for either one. Was it permitted to separate the two babies, resulting in the immediate death of one, in order to save the life of the other?
This shiur will analyze three Talmudic discussions that were reviewed to arrive at the halachic decision: Shnayim Mehalchin B’derech, T’nu Lanu Echad Mi’khem and Rodef.