I heard about this today on BBC:
In a case fraught with ethical questions, the parents of a severely mentally and physically disabled child have stunted her growth to keep their little “pillow angel” a manageable and more portable size. The bedridden 9-year-old girl had her uterus and breast tissue removed at a Seattle hospital and received large doses of hormones to halt her growth. She is now 4-foot-5; her parents say she would otherwise probably reach a normal 5-foot-6.
The case has captured attention nationwide and abroad via the Internet, with some decrying the parents’ actions as perverse and akin to eugenics. Some ethicists question the parents’ claim that the drastic treatment will benefit their daughter and allow them to continue caring for her at home..
I’m really shocked by this case. I don’t want to be overly critical of parents raising severly disabled kids because I do think there is no good support system in place for them, but I’m shocked that doctors and a medical ethics board were willing to go along with this.
One of the things that really caught my attention was the quotes about breast removal from the blog that the parents have created to explain the surgery:
Ashley has no need for developed breasts since she will not breast feed and their presence would only be a source of discomfort to her. This is especially true since Ashley is likely destined to have large breasts, given her maternal and paternal female lineage; for example, an aunt had a breast reduction operation at age 19. Large breasts are uncomfortable lying down with a bra and even less comfortable without a bra. Furthermore, breasts impede securing Ashley in her wheelchair, stander, or bath chair, where straps across her chest are needed to support her body weight. Before the surgery Ashley had already exhibited sensitivity in her breasts.
And then soon after there is this quote:
Large breasts could “sexualize” Ashley towards her caregiver, especially when they are touched while she is being moved or handled, inviting the possibility of abuse.
I am at a loss for words :-O :-O
I definitely think this is a feminist issue and a disability rights issue. The the desexualization of the disabled combined with the extremely gendered nature of this treatment just astonishes me. To me feminist reproductive rights advocates should be lining up to challenge this treatment (But if I was a betting women, I’d bet most of them won’t say much.).
I went over to Blue’s site to see if she has responded. She said she will put up a comment soon.
What do you think?