God blessed a Chinese woman with twin baby boys, each one ensouled at the instant of fertilization with personhood and a personal divine fate. At their birth, though, the doctors callously ended one proud male life…and they’ve probably got the poor fellow pickled in a jar somewhere. Here’s a photo of the pair.
That is a baby. The odd blob on his back? That’s his brother, a nicely formed penis growing and thriving there. This is a case of fetus in fetu, in which a mass of cells, either an absorbed twin or a large teratoma (a surprisingly well differentiated, but abnormal, fragment of embryonic tissue), form a partial individual fused to a larger fetus. In this case, all that made it was a penis and what looks like some other adjoining tissues.
Please note that Little Wang (the kids were unnamed, but I have to call him something) is made up of entirely human tissue, and is genuinely alive — blood flows through him, he was probably innervated with sensory and motor nerves, he is obviously sufficiently differentiated that we have no problem calling him male, and he is a miracle of creation — yet what did the doctors do? In a cruel three hour operation, they cut him away from his brother and let him bleed to death.
Yeah, I know what you’re going to say: he was a parasite, entirely dependent on his brother for survival, and could not live on his own—but we all know that argument is totally bogus, because…because…well, because it just is! Life is precious, and you must choose life!
(OK, seriously, this was an awkward developmental difficulty for the child and his parents, but it’s also fascinating. Not enough detail is given in the articles; I’d like to know about deeper levels of organization. Were the various ducts present? Was there any recognizable pelvic tissue? Three hours of surgery implies there may have been some internal entanglements? And most importantly, that location implies that there might have been some spinal involvement — I hope the kid is entirely all right now, and that there won’t be any long term problems.)
(And again seriously, it does raise issues of individuality and human identity. I have no problem saying that the extra penis is an unwanted growth that can be eliminated with no ethical difficulties…but people who claim personhood for a tiny ball of cells ought to have greater problems with this case.)