Ashley Treatment on the Rise

From The Guardian:

" A controversial procedure to limit the growth of severely disabled childrento keep them forever small – which ignited a fiery debate about the limits of medical intervention when it was first revealed five years ago – has begun to spread among families in America, Europe and beyond.

The Guardian has learned that at least 12 other families have carried out or are in the process of undergoing such medical therapies. The total number of children who have been administered with hormones to keep them small may have reached more than 100 and interest among families extended into the thousands."

When Ashley's parents first announced that they had subjected their daughter to growth attenuation I wrote about the matter on this blog. I still believe that the "procedure" is unethical, not merely because I am a self-avowed disability rights advocate, but because I suspect that the whole matter violates the first rule of medicine, which as everybody knows it to "do no harm."

Removing the breast buds from a little girl, removing her uterus, and injecting extremely high levels of hormones into her body is in fact a medically unproven series of procedures. It will keep a child small, but it will also likely yield side effects. The latter are considered easy to dismiss since the children who undergo such procedures are mentally deficient, as the vernacular would have it. My take is that human beings are not ever fit subjects for experimentation which is, in the final analysis what this oddly utilitarian treatment is all about. The argument is tautological in the extreme: "my child will become a big person and then we won't be able to take care of her" leads to: "If she stays small forever then we can easily look after her." In turn, the subtext for this is: "Well,yes, she will have a shorter life perhaps, but how wonderful it will be to keep that life conveniently tiny." This is of course about convenience. Since all peopld with disabiliies are inconvenient in a normalized society, perhaps they should all be artifically modified. Perhaps the elderly should be subjected to amputations so they will fit into ever smaller boxes?

The argument for the Ashley treatment remains suspect in my view. I'm not alone.