Medical Treatment Keeps Ashley Child-sized

Most people, no doubt, when they espouse human rights, make their own mental reservations about the proper application of the word ‘human.'”–Suzanne Lafollette

I don’t know how many of you have read or heard about Ashley. She is a mentally and physically disabled child now in the spotlight for the surgical procedures performed on her to keep her child-sized for life. The nine-year-old’s parents decided to stunt her growth and remove her womanly organs in order to give her the most comfortable and best qualitative life possible. The young girl has what’s known as static encephalopathy. Her brain is therefore unchanging, it is static. The brain has not matured past the capabilities of a three-month-old in Ashley’s nine years of living.

Is this ethical? I will boldly and proudly say, yes it is. It is ethical to utilize medicine for the benefit of your child. In Ashley’s case, her brain damage is so severe that she will not be able to talk or walk. Many people do not understand this. They are not informed on just how severe static encephalopathy is, or even what it is. A commentor, by the name of Carla Pinder writes the following on the article about Ashley:

I find this the most outrageous invasion of the rights of a HUMAN BEING. I cannot belive that in this day and age of medical, technical, and equipment advnced way of life that the parents and doctors could not find a more humaine and dignified way to to care for this child then to remove a part of HER body. If this child seems so unable to communicate how do the parents and doctors know what she may or may not feel or understand or want for HER life.

First of all the rights of Ashley as a human being have never been underestimated. That is why her parents chose to give her a good life. They are treating her as a human being, caring for her rather than throwing their hands up and saying, “well, looks like we can’t do anything for her.” Secondly, yes in this “day and age of medical, thecnical, and equipment advanced way of life” the way they chose to take care of there child is the most dignified. Medical advances do just that, right? They make human suffering lesser, they make for a more comfortable life. How could her parents be criticized for doing what’s in the best interest of a young baby. Finally, the tragedy is that she is “so unable to communicate.” She is a three-month-old baby, her cognitive skills are not developed, she can not tell, show, or even blink to her parents what she wants. This is what she can do as a three-month-old, just to clarify:

Simple reflex activity such as grasping, sucking.


This is the extent of Ashley’s cognitive skills. Then I read this, “Well, what if she wants to have children one day! Then what!” Excuse me, but here are two loving parents trying to keep their child in the best care possible and here is someone uninformatively complaining about Ashley wanting children. People don’t understand that her disability would not even allow her to understand or think of what a child is, let alone have one.

Ashley must be a joy to her parents. Her life is no fairytale, and her parents understand that. I commend her parents for understanding what reality is. I commend them for weighing the positives and the negatives when making the decision to go forth with this kind of decision.

This is just a family in the end, a family that had to make a decision. Yes, it was a surgical procedure and yes they utilized medicine rationally all in the hopes that their baby girl could live the best life she could. Ashley’s life is unfortanetely and sadly stunted already by her mental disability, her parents have complied to this reality. They gave their daughter the best life she could have. I’m sure any parent willing to go to hundreds of doctors would make a similar well-informed and compassionate decision.

After writing this I see one final truth that remains. People love to judge others on their actions. I’m doing just that, but in any light, I am just glad that her parents did something to take care of her. I am glad that they utilized medicine, just as parents of a child with cancer would utilize treatments to make their children live better lives. Ultimately, letting Ashley grow and go through puberty would almost be–and this is strong–but it would be more like neglect.

The Human Element by Ashley’s Parents: love. Share your thoughts, please.


5 Responses to “Medical Treatment Keeps Ashley Child-sized”

  1. 1 mssuicidebomber January 7, 2007 at 9:33 am

    It is beyond the average persons comprehension, the daily struggles and joys developmmentally disabled people bring to the lives of their families.

    Until you’ve cared for them and gotten to know them, changed their diapers, fed them, comforted them, you don’t know how much they can enrich your life.

    Ashley’s parents made a difficult decision. They have chosen to love her in the best way they know how.

  2. 2 Andrea January 8, 2007 at 6:03 pm

    I have cared for hundreds of children with developmental disabilities. Therefore, I can say as a professional that Ashley’s parents have taken steps that will drastically improve Ashley’s quality of life as she gets older. For people who are severely disabled like Ashley, pressure ulcers are a common, and extremely painful, problem. As someone who is not mobile grows larger, more pressure is put on certain areas of the body. Coupled with the difficulty caregivers experience moving a full-sized adult, these ulcers can develop and even result in death (this is how Christopher Reeve died). Caring for an adult with developmental disabilities as severe as Ashley’s is very, very difficult. Caregivers (usually parents) often face serious orthopedic conditions, such as back problems, that result from constant lifting. The custodial care that Ashley requires to keep her healthy simply cannot be adequately provided to a full-sized adult. I commend Ashley’s parents for looking so far into her future and doing something incredibly courageous that will improve Ashley’s life as she grows older.

  3. 3 JD January 9, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Ask yourself, would I rather grow to full size and risk being put in a state institution because I am too big for my loving parents to care for me, (which is what has happened to thousands of handicapped children), or would I choose, if I could, to have the surgeries so that my parents can keep me with them in a loving enviroment? Any normal capable human being would choose the surgeries. Another quick note… How many of you perfectly normal females “welcome” your periods every month and would your dignity allow you to permit someone else to have to deal with that too? Need I say more?

  4. 4 mssuicidebomber January 10, 2007 at 12:25 am

    This seems to be the only place where clear heads prevail regarding Ashley and the choices her family has made.The feminists and disabled activists are going crazy over Ashley. I never knew or imagined there were so many issues to debate. I see this simply as a family and quality of life situation. Ashley has parents who love her, and in the end that is what counts.
    Hey Alex, thanks, I’m doing better.

  5. 5 Alex E. Sidoro January 10, 2007 at 12:28 am

    Awesome mssuicidebomber. In addition I, too, am excited with the positive feedback I’m getting from what I said about this situation. Realistic and optimistic is my kind of mind set.

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