Dilemma One Sheet #2

Is Killing One Child to Save Another Morally Permissible?

Is killing one child to save another morally permissible? We know murder is wrong, but what if it is to save another life? This is one tough question the parents of Jodie and Mary must face in the England and Wales Court of Appeal Decision.

What is right is not always legal, and what is legal is not always right. This is an important topic discussed in classrooms of all subjects, including literature, ethics, and law studies courses, and one addressed in the second of 11 Dilemma One Sheet activities available for teachers.

Jodie and Mary

Imagine you find out the twins you (or your partner) are carrying are actually conjoined, meaning connected by tissue and/or organ. Your daughters each have their own brain, heart, lungs, and other vital organs, but separating them will result in the death of the weaker twin, whom you’ve named Mary. Jodie and Mary share a major artery in the lower abdomen that circulates oxygenated blood from Jodie’s heart to Mary’s body.

The doctors recommend terminating the pregnancy, but your Catholic faith guides you to refuse. Instead, you deliver the twins but now must make the hardest decision of your life. Jodie’s heart will fail in a few short months because it cannot keep up with supplying oxygenated blood to both bodies. The doctors recommend separating the twins, but that would result in Mary’s death. Without the surgery, both will die.  

This certainly is a dilemma!

Jodie and Mary’s parents refuse to separate them citing that it is God’s will that they were born, and, therefore, it’s God’s will that they die. Doctors disagree with the parents’ decision and take steps to intervene. 

What will the courts decide? What will the parents do next? Where does medical law, family law, and criminal law intersect? 

All of these questions are addressed in Dilemma Two, and will give your students the opportunity to critically reason, discuss, and engage with each other!

What are Dilemma One Sheets?

Dilemma One Sheets are single-page documents that contain information, events, and discussion questions about a particularly interesting case, such as the role of courts in family medical decisions, that introduce students to philosophy, ethics, law, and justice, and helps them engage in critical reasoning. 

Dilemma One Sheets can fit virtually in every curricular area and can be employed in myriad ways. Use them as bell ringers to grab your students’ attention and start the class in a fun and engaging way! 

Other ideas for inclusion into the curriculum are group discussion, seminar, debate prep, even writing instruction for academia! Instead of having students complete busy work while a substitute is in the classroom, use these to keep kids engaged and focused, even while you’re away!
Dilemma Two would also make a fantastic pairing with the many movies and books: Sophie’s Choice, My Sister’s Keeper, The Hunger Games trilogy, and The Golden Compass series.

How does it work?

Fairly simply, actually. Students are given a dilemma one sheet with a question to spark intrigue and evoke responses, possibly even conflicting ones. The one-sheets are single sheet documents that include a list of important events surrounding the case, information on the trial and/or litigation, discussion questions to help keep the students engaged, and detailed teacher notes as well. This makes implementing these into your lesson plans simple and virtually hassle-free – every teacher’s dream!


Whether you’re looking for simple activities to supplement your lessons, bell-ringers, or a resource to teach the art of discussion in an academic setting, Dilemma One Sheets are a perfect fit for your classroom. Be sure to leave feedback and let me know how you incorporate these into your classroom. I love hearing your ideas! 

Thanks for visiting!


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