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Ashley’s Treatment was a Travesty

January 5, 2007

Stories of depravity anger me, but when depravity is portrayed as compassion, I go numb for a while.

It took me some time to grasp the reality that (in 2004, though the story is “breaking” only now) parents in Seattle directed a team of doctors to cut out the breast-buds of their nine-year-old, severally disabled daughter, remove her womb, and pump her full of growth-retarding hormones so that she stays little. You can read the parental rationales here. The genuine frustration these parents felt over the years is obvious; unfortunately, it only serves as the mortar that binds brick to brick in the wall of fallacious reasoning that Ashely’s parents have erected to defend their decision.

Worse (if that’s possible), the parents have published their “Ashley Treatment” story so that other parents of children facing long-term care needs might consider their solution. God have mercy on us all.

In my opinion, whatever their motives might have been, the inescapable fact is that Ashley’s parents inflicted a host of serious mutilations on their innocent child. None of the procedures they ordered (hysterectomy, breast-bud removal, or anti-growth hormones) could qualify as “therapeutic” under Catholic moral or canonical analysis, for none were intended as treatment for damaged or diseased organs or processes. Because grave mutilation without therapeutic character is gravely immoral and canonically criminal (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 2297 and 1983 CIC 1397), the Ashley Travesty may not be used by those entrusted with responsibility for the care of God’s most vulnerable children.

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