Many people seem to be saying that we have no right to judge the parents, we don't know the exact particulars of the case, we don't know what it's like having to care for a child like Ashley. I agree with the last 2 points, but I think that it is important to judge this case, and I suppose by disagreeing with it, then I will be, by default, casting judgement on the people behind it. I would blame the doctors and ethicists involved and not the parents, who should, I feel, have been strongly advised against this. And although we don't know all the details, we can discuss what we do know, from the paper published last autumn by the doctors who performed the 'treatment' and from the long blog post written by her father.
Others have defended this by pointing to the '3-month age' functioning of the child as if this means she loses all her human rights. Her father addresses this too saying;
"If people have concerns about Ashley’s dignity, she will retain more dignity in a body that is healthier, more of a comfort to her, and more suited to her state of development as George Dvorsky, a member of the Board of Directors for the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, alludes to in a related article: “If the concern has something to do with the girl’s dignity being violated, then I have to protest by arguing that the girl lacks the cognitive capacity to experience any sense of indignity. Nor do I believe this is somehow demeaning or undignified to humanity in general; the treatments will endow her with a body that more closely matches her cognitive state – both in terms of her physical size and bodily functioning. The estrogen treatment is not what is grotesque here. Rather, it is the prospect of having a full-grown and fertile woman endowed with the mind of a baby.”"
This is the ethics advice they have received. Oh dear.
It was interesting to read the comments on my own post. I was entirely unsurprised to see that all the Autism Hub writers who commented, were also very concerned about this and thought it was completely wrong. The main voice of dissent (here anyway) ended up sounding very extreme and irrational.
I want to point anyone interested in the direction of some of the great blog posts I've read over the past few days. First, there's Thirza's post, Growing Up with Sky, where she writes lovingly about her disabled sister and gets pissed off about the 'Ashley treatment'. She addresses in particular, the concept of mental age and how this applies to her sister's life.
Wheelchair Dancer has written again about this, and quoted the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, including;
Article 17 - Protecting the integrity of the person
Every person with disabilities has a right to respect for his or her physical and mental integrity on an equal basis with others.
I think that says it all.