The Ashley Treatment

In class on Thursday we discussed the Ashley Treatment (basic information can be found on wikipedia), and I immediately thought it sounded like a completely abhorrent thing to do to a child, or anyone suffering from any type of disability just to “improve their lives”. In my opinion, there is no improvement involved in this particular set of surgeries, only an eradication of qualities and personal accouterments that make us human. Ashley X, or as her parents refer to her, “Pillow Angel”, was just a little girl when her parents decided for her to undergo a set of surgeries, that they believed would benefit her life in the long run.

There were several ways they assumed she was being assisted, from a lack of symptoms from puberty and subsequent womanhood, the ease at which it would take to lift and move her from bed to bed and place to place, and they even had the audacity to assume she could keep herself save from sexual harrassment and abuse from caretakers in future stays. This particular sentence is is not only despicable, but takes into account that it would be HER fault if she was to be abused, that it would be because of HER breasts and HER womanly figure, that she would immediately be assaulted. This is not only disgusting to me as a woman but as a person as well.

As is stated on the wikipedia page, a hysterectomy was performed on the child, a surgery that her parents actually consented to. According to the Disability Rights of California, that very surgery was ILLEGAL and “resulted in violation of Ashley’s constitutional and common law rights”, which should have been obvious the moment they attempted to perform such a procedure on a child.

The entire idea of the Ashley Treatment leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth, especially considering it was mostly performed to assist in the ease of which the family and caregivers would be able to care for her. It’s sickening that anything like this has been done, and even worse, is still being done. In fact, according to the Guardian in this article, the procedure “has begun to spread among families in America, Europe and beyond”. How anyone could possibly think this procedure is a good thing for anyone is beyond me!



One thought on “The Ashley Treatment

  1. I believe that Ashley’s parents were a) blinded by the idea of being a “good parent” and doing what they believe would improve her “quality of life” and b) guilty of producing a child that had such a disability. It seems as though her parents automatically put her in the category of having a “defect” and that she needs to be normal instead of learning to understand her disability. Her parents influenced by a medical model of disability and paid more attention about what society would think of her and how she would be treated. In all honesty, when I saw that her nickname was “Pillow Angel” disturbing images went to my head. How could her parents settle for having her being called “Pillow Angel” without thinking of the context surrounding that nickname?

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