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Doctors attempted to separate the conjoined Bijani twins to free them from lifelong attachment, and Charles Krauthammer attempted, in his criticism of physician-assisted suicide, to split similarly inseparable moral hairs [ESSAY, July 21]. The Bijani twins, Krauthammer wrote, "were not seeking self-destruction; they were seeking liberation. And they were trying to undo a form of mutilation imposed on them by nature." If the twins were willing to die rather than continue living attached to each other, that's hardly different from people who prefer death to being trapped in a diseased or dysfunctional body. There are those who do not believe that death is oblivion. PATRICK IVERS Laramie, Wyo.
The doctors should not have operated on the Bijani twins precisely because of the limits offered by Krauthammer: "no assistance in self-destruction" and "no assistance in mutilation." No doubt the Bijani twins suffered from the unity imposed upon them by nature, which was certainly cruel, but the physicians needed to recognize that this "error of nature" was, in itself, a perfectly functioning human system. In operating on them, the doctors violated the fundamental tenet of the Hippocratic oath. MICHAEL VALENTI Anaheim, Calif.
Stressed or Just Spoiled?
"Spa Kids" reported that "massages and facials are now in vogue with the younger set" and that kids are getting glitter, manicures and henna tattoos [LIVING, July 21]. But the U.S. Census Bureau states that 16.3% of American children live in poverty. The teens patronizing day spas would be far better off if they devoted their time to helping their less fortunate peers. Maybe then they would realize that by comparison, they have little enough to be stressed over. And perhaps it would provide some perspective for their parents too. PATRICIA J. WILLIAMS Cary, N.C.
We have the ultimate spa for kids right here in our town. It features 100% natural mud treatments, floral and herbal aromatherapy and even a special oxygen-enhanced relaxation area. The name of this secret, exclusive retreat for the junior set? Our backyard. AMANDA UHRY Ridgefield, Conn.