I am not quite sure what to make of this story, but it really does not seem to be a path that we should be going down:

Posted on Fox News web

Parents Under Fire for Making Daughter Stay Child Forever
Thursday, January 04, 2007

Her name is Ashley X, and she is the little girl who will never grow up.

Until New Year’s Day, not even her first name was known. Ashley was a faceless case study, cited in a paper by two doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital as they outlined a treatment so radical that it brought with it allegations of “eugenics”, of creating a 21st-century Frankenstein’s monster, of maiming a child for the sake of convenience.

The reason for the controversy is this: Three years ago, when Ashley began to display early signs of puberty, her parents instructed doctors to remove her uterus, appendix and still-forming breasts, then treat her with high doses of estrogen to stunt her growth.

In other words, Ashley was sterilized and frozen in time, for ever to remain a child. She was only 6 years old.

The reason was listed as the following:

Ashley, the daughter of two professionals in the Seattle area, never had much hope of a normal life.

Afflicted with a severe brain impairment known as static encephalopathy, she cannot walk, talk, keep her head up in bed, or even swallow food. Her parents argued that “keeping her small” was the best way to improve the quality of her life, not to make life more convenient for them.

By remaining a child, they say, Ashley will have a better chance of avoiding everything from bed sores to pneumonia — and the removal of her uterus means that she will never have a menstrual cycle or risk developing uterine cancer.

I still feel uncomfortable with this treatment and have to agree with the following:

The medical profession is divided.

“I think most people, when they hear of this, would say this is just plain wrong,” wrote Jeffrey Brosco of the University of Miami, in an editorial. “But it is a complicated story … you can understand the difficulties. [But] high-dose estrogen therapy to prevent out-of-home placement simply creates a new Sophie’s Choice for parents to confront.

“If we as a society want to revise the nature of the harrowing predicament that these parents face, then more funds for home-based services, not more medication, is what is called for.”

Of course, the devil is in the details – finding the funds, but more home-based services seems to be a more logical solution than a permanently induced child-like state. Estrogens have more effects than sexual maturity too, such as effects on the immune system, cardiovascular system, behavior, and so forth (it makes we ladies the fairer, healthier gender! ;) )

And this comment is really out of line, IMHO:

George Dvorsky, a director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, countered: “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.

“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.”

[Emphasis added]

Excuse me? The girl lacks the cognative capacity to experience any sense of indignity, so why bother giving her any? What? Often the dying have lost cognitive capacity too – do we cease to treat them with dignity? How about the elderly who through Alzheimers or other reasons have lost ‘cognitive ability? Or Mentally challenged folks, or injured folks……? And Mr. Dvorsky is the director of an ethics (or lack thereof) institute? YIKES!

What do you think? I would love to hear from both sides, as there are definitely two sides of this issue.

The full story can be found here.