Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Year after the Mutilation


One year later. 4’5” tall. 63 pounds. Growth has stopped. "Ashley did not grow in height or weight in the last year, she will always be flat-chested, and she will never suffer any menstrual pain, cramps or bleeding," say her parents. That’s because she had a hysterectomy, her breast buds removed, and will take drugs for the rest of her life to keep her from growing. Her growth plates are permanently closed, and all this treatment has taken about a foot off her anticipated height. Ashley X. is 10 years old.

According to her parents, Ashley’s current state is a definition of success. Success for whom I am compelled to ask.

According to an interview Ashley’s parents did for CNN (via email only to protect their identities), “Ashley is now and will always be dependent on us in every aspect of her life: On an hourly basis we give her a position change and prop her back on her pillow; we make sure she is well covered and pull her shirt down to cover her tummy; we wipe her drool, etc. Also there are diaper changes, tube feedings, dressing, bathing, teeth cleaning, stretching, entertainment, etc.” Again I am compelled to ask, “So…? I believe all those things are covered in a parent's job description.”

The CNN interview reports when Ashley was 6, her parents approached Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, for the operations. They believed this would make it easier to cuddle and carry a child who can do little more than lie propped on a pillow. Yet another compelling questions pops into my mind – so this surgery was done at least in part to make life easier for the parents. Eh?

Here are a few more facts surrounding this so-called treatment:

  • It’s against the law

  • The endocrinologist who participated in the treatment has committed suicide. The parents say it’s because he was so committed to helping other families the way he “helped” theirs, but he was thwarted by the law and opponents to the treatment.

  • Ashley’s parents remain convinced that what they did was the most loving choice they could have made for their daughter.

  • Ethicists believe that the "Ashley treatment" is a violation of not only human dignity, but also of a physician's oath to do no harm.

  • Ashley’s parents want to help parents of other “pillow angels” understand their choices for their children


How do I feel? Well, here are links to previous blogs I have written about Ashley X. My feelings have not changed. I am outraged and appalled by what these parents did.

A Tale of Two Ashleys
A Tale of Two Ashley's continued

Here also is a link to the CNN story and to the interview with the parents.

And a link to the parents' website...

5 comments:

Candice said...

A friend of mine actually considered giving her child with CP pills to stop her from menstrating, but decided against it. Her daughter is almost 17 and has still not started her cycles. It is very difficult for her to care for her daughter-taking her to the bathroom alone is a chore that has to be done several times a day. Her daughter has no speech, no use of any limbs and very little control of her head.

We talked during her time of decision making for her daughter and she decided to leave it up to God and not to intervene. I am so proud of her for this decision. It would have been so easy to do what these parents have done and control their daughter for what they think is best. What happens if there is a cure? This child has lost all chances of being a woman!

Although I know that it must have been a difficult choice for them, I think they took the easy road.

Ashley's Mom said...

Candice, I know how difficult the decisions must be. I, too, am proud of your friend for not taking the easy way out. As a society, we need to find alternatives so parents like Ashley X's and others in similar situations won't feel the need to do what they did. But, with that said, those parents must be willing to give the alternatives a chance.

Casdok said...

Im with you on this one.

Marla said...

I can barely read about this child without feeling so much grief it hurts.

schnitzelbank said...

This story reminds me of the Nazis that sterilized the intellectually disabled... my own grandmother was targeted for sterilization because she was the the child of two first cousins, putting the "German race at risk." She escaped with her family in the early 30's.