Tonight, while searching for potential bloggers for my virtual book tours, I stumbled across this extremely controversial story. In a nutshell:
Nine-year-old Ashley is severely physically and mentally disabled. Three years ago, Ashley’s parents made the highly unusual decision to keep their daughter child-sized when they observed early signs of puberty.
The young girl has undergone hormone treatment that will limit her growth, which will keep her at about four feet, five inches, and 75 pounds making it easier for her to be moved. She has also had a hysterectomy and a breast bud removal.
“Ashley has no need for her uterus since she will not be bearing children,” they say, adding that the decision means she will not experience menstrual cramps.
The decision to remove her breast buds was partly to avoid sexualizing Ashley in the eyes of her caregiver, but mainly so that she would not experience discomfort when lying down.
Ashley also underwent an appendectomy during her surgery, as she would not be able to communicate pain if she were to suffer from appendicitis, they said.
Partly quoted from CTV.ca
For hours, I have been reading the parents’ blog and discussions, for and against, on other blogs. Mixed thoughts and emotions are running through me at the moment. I am somewhat reluctant to comment publicly on such a heated topic without fully absorbing and contemplating the issues involved. I can appreciate the parents’ perspective and that caring for their daughter on a daily basis is difficult and exhausting. No doubt, the lack of means of communication is one of their biggest challenges as their child cannot indicate her needs or where she hurts. But, as a person with a disability, a woman with a significant physical disability, I find “Ashley’s Treatment” terrifying and saddening; in fact, I felt nauseous as I was reading and I was beyond tears.
So many questions come to mind: is the only way to protect her from sexual abuse is to de-feminize her? How far will the removal of body parts go to prevent possible disease in the future? Will this become society’s solve for managing the care of its severely disabled citizens? Why aren’t desperately needed support systems being providing so that parents with special needs kids don’t feel the need to do it all alone? If it takes a community to raise a child, where is the community for the child with a disability?
Time to go crawl into bed, although I’m not sure how well I will sleep after such a story. Once again, I’m thankful for the parents I have.
Tags: ashley treatment