Remarks on the “Ashley Treatment”


Now for the final outrage.

Let’s take these one at a time:

“Appropriate for children with similar condition to Ashley’s”

  • Ashley does NOT have a diagnosis, hence similar to the unknown?
  • Ashley’s etiology is unknown, hence again, similar to the unknown?
  • “Appropriate” is a subjective opinion of one man, not the medical community.
  • The procedure was ruled ILLEGAL and resulted in violation of Ashley’s constitutional and common law rights.

“Relatively safe and leads to significant, lifelong & direct benefits to these children, in the avoidance of pain and suffering & the improvement of their quality of life”

  • Multiple surgeries on a six year old are not “relatively safe.” Relative to what? What evidence is there?
  • How can you claim “significant, lifelong” benefits with no study. This just occurred recently. What will the effects be? What will the estrogen therapy on a six year old do in the future? “Avoidance of pain and suffering” from what? Potentially large breasts?
  • “Improvement” of who’s quality of life? Ashley’s or the caregivers? What proof is there? Since there is NO diagnosis, how can you know the future quality of life?
  • The procedure was ruled ILLEGAL and resulted in violation of Ashley’s constitutional and common law rights.

“No amount of state funding or resources would replace these direct benefits”

  • The “direct benefits” are offered but not proven. This is the first (publicized) instance so we do not know the future, and since there is no diagnosis, we don’t know what would have been if she was not mutilated.
  • This is a very subjective statement, and grandiose. Any benefit to Ashley (as opposed to her caregiver) may well be surpassed with other methods paid for by the state or outside resources.

“We received 1,150 emails from parents & caregivers who have direct experience with Pillow Angels, & who expressed a strong support for the treatment”

  • “Pillow Angel” is a made up, dehumanizing term, not a diagnosis. Those people have their own issues, their own children, and potentially entirely different circumstances.
  • No proof of this number, nor does it matter. Entire populations have supported evil or wrong causes, that does not make them moral, ethical, legal, nor correct.
  • And how many emails from parents and caregivers of the severely disabled who expressed disgust and revulsion?
  • The procedure was ruled ILLEGAL and resulted in violation of Ashley’s constitutional and common law rights.

“Dozens of parents of Pillow Angels worldwide are evaluating the treatment for their children”

  • What is your point?
  • And how many find it abhorrent?
  • The procedure was ruled ILLEGAL and resulted in violation of Ashley’s constitutional and common law rights.

For more, see my post on Psychology Today.

5 thoughts on “Remarks on the “Ashley Treatment”

  1. As the mother of a child with severe handicaps almost identical to Ashley’s, I find this site to be very closed minded and guilty of comparing apples to oranges.

    I’m not sure if this procedure will be something that proves to be good so far as risk vs reward, as the side effects of all these removals and hormones in children this young isn’t something that’s been studied. But, to sit here and accuse these parents of dehumanizing, butchering, etc.. their child is shameful. Have you been in their shoes?

    Yes, this is in part about making it “easier” for the caregiver. However, even that element is overall for the better of the child; meaning that the child can feasibly stay under their care verses having to be placed in an institution. My daughter weights 35lbs and lifting her everyday already takes a toll on my 32-year-old body. At some point, I won’t be able to physically care for her if she continues to grow and I continue to age.

    By the way, apples and oranges – it would certainly be tragic should Ashley ever be raped because she does have a vagina, but that tragedy would have far more devastating results if she were to get pregnant as a result. All problems can’t be solved, but we solve those that can be solved.

  2. I really do wonder how many of the people arguing against this treatment have ever had to face the possibility of caring for a person that will never be able to move or think beyond the level of a baby. Things are not so black and white as you would like to believe. You act like it’s in some way evil to do anything to the child’s body that will cause her to age abnormally, she is already going to age abnormally. Taking that into consideration the parents are only trying to see to it that she ages as comfortably as possible.

    It will not dehumanize her to not have breasts, a uterus, or to be larger. There are already plenty of people that lack those things and are indeed human. If you are appalled that the parents have made this decision on her behalf consider the fact that Ashley will never be able to decide anything for herself. It is up to the parents to decide how best to see to her well being, and yes, that includes making it easier to care for her.

  3. Again, I am in their shoes. I have been for 19 years. A daughter as severely disabled as Ashley, if not more, and me a single parent for the past 12 years, with just her and me. I am her primary care taker.

    I probably know better than you do about what would have been if Ashley was not surgically modified and what the ramifications of letting her grow are / would have been.

  4. As a nurse who now has disabilities from lifting many heavy patients over many years of 8 hour shifts I empathize with family caregivers who face 24 hour ‘shifts’, i.e. lifelong commitments to the care of pillow angels. There must be hundreds of thousands such children and adults, many of whose disabilities are caused by the horrific maternal care program especially in the US. See Ina May Gaskin,, her Safe Motherhood project and the location The Farm in Tennessee in which Ina May and a dozen other midwives were nourished and supported to develop a system with the best maternal infant health statistics in the world.

    The rest of the US has the worst statistics for the developed world by far, less that 40th internationally, according to a study published in The Lancet. In 2008, the United States reported 17 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, up from 7.5 per 100,000 in 1982. The maternal death rate in California tripled between 1996 and 2006.

    Along with maternal deaths, the deadly methods used by the US obstetrical system to ‘deliver’ mothers of their infants, when mothers should be simply supported to birth their infants ALSO impacts severely on infants causing many forms of traumatic disability such that they are never able to develop and require constant care for the rest of their lives. The costs of these tragedies are inestimable both personally and financially.

    If mothers received the excellent supported care developed and recommended by Ina May Gaskin and the The Farm Midwives, most of these children would be up and running with their age-mates, and their parents able to lead their own lives.

    Add to this the indecent lack of health care support for care givers of birth traumatized children and the United States ranks very low in health care as it pertains to human rights.

    If both forms of care were to exist in the US no notions of “Ashley” treatments would ever arise in the minds of controlling enterprises such as medicine, or parents saddled with decades of untenable responsibility for damaged children.

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