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US And UK Advocates Protest 'Ashley's Treatment'
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
January 26, 2007

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON & LONDON, ENGLAND--Disability rights groups in both the United States and the United Kingdom have launched separate campaigns to prevent the use of medical procedures designed to keep people with disabilities physically small.

The efforts came in response to news that a couple convinced doctors at Seattle Children's Hospital to take their daughter, known publicly as "Ashley X", through hormone treatments and surgery to keep her from starting puberty and to keep her 'child size'. The parents claim on their website that they asked for the procedures two years ago to keep the then six-year-old girl from experiencing the discomfort of menstruation, from becoming 'sexualized', and so they could take care of her at home longer, among other things. The parents said they launched the website, in part, to support other parents who might want to have their "pillow angels" go through similar treatments.

This week, the Arc of the U.S. and United Cerebral Palsy released a joint statement condemning what the parents called the "Ashley Treatment".

"We believe that loving parents who are caregivers are not granted special dispensation to sanction irreparable and irreversible surgeries to alter their son or daughter’s physical being primarily for their own convenience or comfort," the statement explained.

"Too often, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are treated as perpetual children."

They joined organizations such as ADAPT, Not Dead Yet, American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and others in calling for putting a stop to similar procedures for children with disabilities.

Michigan disability rights advocate Susan Fitzmaurice launched a website allowing fellow advocates to sign on to a statement responding to what is being called the "Ashley Treatment". As of this writing, about 300 individuals and groups had signed on to the statement.

In the United Kingdom, the disability group Scope launched its own campaign against the treatment, with an opportunity for advocates to weigh in. As of this writing, more than 100 individuals and groups had signed on to support that initiative.

"Society needs to change to fit disabled children in, disabled children shouldn't have change to fit into society," a Scope spokesperson said.

Scope joins the UK disability groups RADAR, the National Autistic Society and Disability Awareness in Action, which have already spoken out against the Ashley Treatment.

"A Statement of Solidarity for the Dignity of People With Disabilities: A Reaction to the 'Ashley Treatment'"
"Joint statement on "Ashley’s Treatment' (UCP & The Arc)
"Campaign to prevent Ashley case" by Geoff Adams-Spink (BBC News)
"Hundreds outraged over child 'frozen in time'" (24Dash)
"Struggling to decide how disabled people fit in" by Sharon Emery (
"Charities Speak Out on Ashley X Case" (Christian Today)
"Similar case, vastly different approaches" by Helen Henderson (Toronto Star)
"The Ashley X treatment – Join us to defend disabled children's rights" (Scope)
"The power to shrink human beings" (
"Fighting for Ashley" (The Falcon -- Seattle Pacific University)
"Opinions: Treatment denies girl dignity, rights" (Sidelines -- Middle Tennessee State University)
"Ashley" by freelance journalist Eleanor Canter
"Not a treatment option" by Mary Johnson (Ragged Edge Magazine)
The Ashley Treatment Website
"Disability Advocates Respond To 'Ashley Treatment' Designed To Keep Girl Small" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)

What do you think? Have these parents and doctors gone too far?
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