Thursday, January 11, 2007

Disability Community is Taking Action on the Ashley Treatment!



Ashley is a nine-year-old with a severe cognitive disability. In order to keep her small and more easily cared for by her family, doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital are having her undergo hormone “therapy” to stunt her growth. In addition, they surgically removed her breast buds, uterus and appendix. The “Ashley Treatment,” as her parents call it, is a medical “fix” to serious social problems we face in America today.

The first of these problems is a lack of quality home-based services for people with disabilities. The second is the social attitude that people with disabilities are less than human and therefore fair game for experimentation. The third is a lack of understanding of disability vs. illness: as Joe Hall of South Carolina has stated, “When I was born my parents knew that I would never walk, but they would have never thought it would be acceptable to cut my legs off.” Feminist Response in Disability Activism (FRIDA), with the support of Chicago ADAPT, the national ADAPT community and Not Dead Yet, urges you to speak out about the “Ashley Treatment.”Our Targets: Seattle Children’s Hospital staff involved in the case of nine-year-old Ashley’s growth attenuation and sterilization, as well as Melinda Gates, chair of the Seattle Children’s Hospital fundraising committee and Susan Macek, Director of Communications for Seattle Children’s Hospital. We need to let the Seattle Children’s Hospital and its fundraising chairperson know that the Ashley Treatment has not gone unnoticed by those of us who live with disabilities.


Email OR Call the people below.

Tell them to:

-Oppose their permission of what is now known as the “Ashley Treatment,” and
-Condemn further permission of such “treatments” for children with disabilities.

Dr. Douglas DiekemaPhone: 206-987-2380B-5520 – Emergency Medicine4800 Sand Point Way NESeattle, WA 98105Fax: (206) 987-3836E-mail:

Dr. Daniel F. GuntherPhone: (206) 987-2380M1-3 – Endocrinology4800 Sand Point Way NESeattle, WA 98105Fax: (206) 987-3836E-mail:

Melinda GatesPO Box 23350Seattle, WA 98102Phone: (206) 709-3100Fax: (206) 709-3252Email:

Susan MacekDirector of Communications, Seattle Children’s HospitalPhone: (206) 987-5201Pager: (206) 469-6310E-mail:


To review Ashley’s parents’ blog, please see:

To review other articles on this topic, please see:

1 comment:

Arlene Wilson said...

An online disability community (MichiganFreedomLIstserv) has
begun to organize a response to the untested, unethical, unproven,
unnecessary medical procedures Ashley X has endured. They have created a statement of solidarity to sign onto electronically as an individual or an organization. In its first 24 hours it had received 86 signatures from 24 states, and 7 countries. Please consider adding your name and comments as an
individual, organization or both. Please feel free to pass this on.

A Statement of Solidarity for the Dignity of People With Disabilities
- A Reaction to the "Ashley Treatment"

We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, are in agreement
that the growth attenuation therapy administered to the little girl known as Ashley is an affront to her human dignity, and to that of all people with disabilities. Despite the good intentions of both her parents and the doctors who have treated her in accordance with their wishes, we condemn these medical procedures and declare that it is never ethically acceptable to medically alter a human being for the benefit of caregivers. Such unnecessary medical procedures without
therapeutic indications demean the essential humanity of the person
undergoing them and of all people with similar disabilities. Whether
disabled or not, people must be given the opportunity to grow and
develop according to their own capacity, whatever that may be. It is the duty of both caregivers and the hallmark of a progressive,
civilized society to provide the means by which all of us can reach
our full human potential.

Ashley is impaired by an unknown brain disorder. Our hearts go out to her parents, and we recognize that they love Ashley and are trying their best in very trying circumstances to care for their daughter.

But these unnecessary medical procedures with no demonstrated
therapeutic purpose, in which doctors have surgically and hormonally altered Ashley to remain small and childlike, are misguided. While it is true that none of us can walk in her parents' shoes, we believe that this approach to easing the hardship of caring for a child with
disabilities makes the child the problem, and by doing so, makes it
acceptable for well-meaning people to deny the essential humanity of
people with disabilities in the course of caring for them.

People with disabilities are not the problem. The real issue is the lack of support, care, and help from our social, medical, and civil
establishments for Ashley's parents and for all those who care for people with disabilities. Yes, it is expensive. But the alternative is morally and ethically unacceptable in a society that honors life and
human dignity. We call on our fellow citizens, our government, and our medical establishment to treat people with disabilities as people, not as problems. We stand together and demand that doctors and social service agencies never again use medicine to strip someone of their humanity through medical procedures like the "Ashley Treatment," and
call on our legislators to pass laws that codify the right of people with disabilities to their integrity as people.

To add your name to this document electronically, please go to .

To read more about Ashley, go to