Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Before Growth-Stunting 'Ashley Treatment,' Protect Civil Rights

By Nirvi Shah from On Special Education
Five years ago, a Seattle hospital made headlines for operating on a 6-year-old girl with severe brain damage that left her unable to walk or talk, and left her as dependent on her parents as an infant.

Her parents chose a type of surgery for Ashley that will keep her small, making it easier to care for her, using something called growth attenuation therapy. The girl's uterus and breast buds were removed. The therapy involved high doses of estrogen, and the result was that Ashley is now, and forever, a child.

Last month, the National Disability Rights Network issued a report reflecting on this kind of treatment, citing other cases and questioning whether such a procedure, now known as "Ashley Treatment" or "Ashley Therapy," represent a slippery slope toward diminishing the civil rights of the disabled.

"In my more than 30 years as a disability rights attorney and advocate, I often think that I have seen every type of discrimination and harm inflicted on people with disabilities. Unfortunately, humanity still finds a way to surprise and shock even me," wrote Curt Decker, executive director of the organization, in the report.

"Every person is born with civil and human rights and an inherent dignity. The presence of a disability does not change that fact. Yet, every day people with disabilities have to fight to be recognized as a whole person. Yes, we have made many positive advancements like the Americans with Disabilities Act and the movement to end institutionalization. However, when something like the Ashley Treatment is permitted, even encouraged, it is a slippery slope toward a world where people with disabilities have no value, no rights, and no dignity."

Read more HERE.
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