The case of nine-year-old Ashley hit the headlines earlier last year as debate raged over the parents’ decision to stop her growth.
Doctors who kept disabled ‘Ashley X’ small acted unlawfully
Ashley received extensive medical treatment from the age of six, including hormone treatment, the removal of her breast buds and uterus.
Her American parents argued that preventing her from growing meant that she would enjoy a better quality of life. Feminist and disability groups argued that the decision was made purely to convenience the parents and that it infringed her basic human rights.
Disability Rights Washington (DRW), a private group with federal authority, has now ruled that doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital violated Ashley’s rights by performing the hysterectomy without first obtaining a court order. DRW also found that no independent advocate was provided to Ashley to protect her rights.
The hospital has acknowledged the error. “It is clear in retrospect that a court order should have been obtained before proceeding with the surgery,” said Dr David Fisher, medical director at the hospital.
This is an updated version of an article which appeared in the July/August 2007 edition of Viewpoint