Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ashley X Update

The Federal Government has finally weighed in on the Ashley Treatment issue. Read on and see what you think....
HHS Response Regarding the "Ashley Treatment"

Dear Readers,

The letter that follows is from the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services and comes in response to a letter of concern
written by Kelly Buckland and John Lancaster of the National
Council on Independent Living regarding the growth attenuation
treatment, breast bud removal, and hysterectomy of "Ashley" a
nine year-old girl from Washington.

To read more about Ashley and the so-called "Ashley Treatment,"
visit AAPD's website at:

Department of Health & Human Services

May 30, 2007

Kelly Buckland, President
John Lancaster, Executive Director
National Council on Independent Living
1710 Rhode Island Avenue, NW, 5th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20036

Dear Mr. Buckland and Mr. Lancaster:

Administration for Children and Families
Office of the Assistant Secretary, Suite 600
370 L'Enfant Promenade, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20447

Secretary Leavitt has asked me to thank you for your letter
expressing concern about the disabled nine-year-old child known as
Ashley X. We agree that the well-being of children with
disabilities is of paramount importance.

Secretary Leavitt uses a 500-Day Plan as a management tool to
guide our Department's energies in fulfilling the President's
vision of a healthier and more hopeful America. In that plan, the
Secretary has a section called "Protect Life, Family, and Human
Dignity," which includes priorities that "Children are protected
from abuse and neglect" and "Seniors and persons with disabilities
are cared for with dignity and respect." Children with
developmental disabilities, including Ashley, are human beings
with inherent human dignity, and they are due all the rights and
respect that come with that status.

That is why the Department of Health and Human Services, through
the Administration on Developmental Disabilities within the
Administration for Children and Families, funds 57 protection and
advocacy (P&A) systems in the states and territories to protect
the civil and human rights of individuals with developmental
disabilities. The Washington Protection and Advocacy System opened
an investigation in January 2007 into the "Ashley Treatment"
interventions and the role of Seattle's Children's Hospital. On
Tuesday, May 8, 2007, the P&A released the findings of that
investigation. You may view the findings and entire report on the
Washington P&A website:

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please call me if I can
be of further assistance.


Daniel C. Schneider
Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For more news issues, see:


Margaret Mead once said that it only takes a few people to change the world. That is so true, today and everyday. It is applicable in this situation, as a few diligent disability advocates have been following this story, investigating the legality of the situation, and have put a few people's feel to the fire.

Maybe the next time someone gets an idea like 'the Ashley Treatment' they will hestitate, and think twice...


The Washington Protection and Advocacy System (soon to be Disability Rights Washington - DRW), opened an investigation in January 2007 into the "Ashley Treatment" interventions and the role of Seattle's Children's Hospital. Today, they released their findings of that investigation.

The view the full report, complete with appendix items, please visit our website .

You should know:

1. Children's Hospital violated Washington state law in performing the hysterectomy portion of the "Ashley Treatment " which resulted in the violation of Ashley's constitutional and common law rights;

2. The Hospital has acknowledged the violation and accepted full responsibility;

3. The Hospital has entered into an enforceable, written five (5) year agreement with WPAS to take corrective action and other proactive steps; and

4, We have included a list of next steps in the Executive Summary that we hope will be a part of a nationwide collaborative effort of the disability community that will result in Ashley being the last person to receive "treatment" named for her.

Seattle Children's Hospital acknowledged the following in our five (5) year, enforceable agreement:

"Children’s has received and reviewed the WPAS report on Ashley and the treatment she received. In general, Children’s accepts the WPAS report. Specifically, Children’s agrees with the finding in the report that Ashley’s sterilization proceeded without a court order in violation of Washington State law, resulting in violation of Ashley’s constitutional and common law rights. Children’s deeply regrets its failure to assure court review and a court order prior to allowing performance of the sterilization and is dedicated to assuring full compliance with the law in any future case."

Some of you may think having a court order is a procedural matter easily overcome. That is not the case. We encourage you to carefully read the legal requirements section of our report to gain a full understanding of this critical safeguard of the rights of children for whom this treatment may be proposed.

If you are wondering about the applicable law in your state the first appendix section includes contacts from many states who have agreed to share their knowledge of the law in their states.

Let us know if you have any questions.

Mark Stroh, Executive Director
Washington Protection & Advocacy System*
315 - 5th Ave South, Suite 850
Seattle, WA 98104
ph: (206) 324-1521 / 800-562-2702
tty: (206) 957-0728
fax: (206) 957-0729

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