A controversial solution for caring for severely intellectually and physically disabled children is quietly spreading, according to the Guardian (UK).
A controversial solution for caring for severely intellectually and physically disabled children is quietly spreading, according to the Guardian (UK). In 2007 the doctors who prescribed the “Ashley treatment” were banned from repeating it in the state of Washington. But this has not stopped other doctors and ethics committees from giving it a green light.
The Ashley treatment is a combination of surgery and medication to “freeze-frame” a child by stunting its growth so that he or she will never grow beyond the size of a six or seven-year-old. For Ashley, it meant a hysterectomy and removal of her breast buds, plus taking hormones. Her family calls her a “pillow angel”.
Her father, named AD to protect the family’s anonymity, told the Guardian that he was in touch with about a dozen couples around the world who had implemented the Ashley treatment for their children. But he thought that about 100 had already done it and thousands more were interested.
The treatment is controversial because it radically alters a person’s body without their consent and because of its implications for public attitudes towards the disabled. Curt Decker, director of an American group, the National Disability Rights Network, will release a report next month calling for a ban growth attenuation treatment for disabled children.
“This is a violation of the civil rights of individuals, and it should be prohibited,” Decker told the Guardian. “Parents have rationalised that this is an OK thing to do, but it treats people as though they have no worth and that’s a slippery slope that could end with the idea that people with disabilities don’t have to be kept alive or integrated in society.”
Silvia Yee, a lawyer with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, was also critical: “This is what we were fearing. It is becoming just one more choice on the menu of possibilities – a medical operation that will change a person’s life. Who has the right to decide to change an individual into a different entity?”
Ashley’s father vehemently disagrees. In his opinion, “the treatment makes Ashley more dignified by providing her with a better quality of life. Depriving her of the treatment’s benefits would be taking away from her human rights.”
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