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A response to Ashley X case

23rd January 2007

Amid an intense ethical debate over the growth-stopping drugs given to nine-year-old American girl Ashley X, Nigel Lewis, father of a severely disabled son, says he has ‘every sympathy’ with her parents.

“One can only imagine what a harrowing week it has been for them since they tried to explain the treatment and their reasons for pursuing it,? he writes in The Telegraph.

Ashley X is the severely disabled girl from Seattle who, thanks to hormone injections, will remain a child for ever. She is in a vegetative state due to a rare brain condition and is completely dependent upon her parents who took the decision in early January to administer the hormone injections to stop her becoming too big to lift and move.

Although Mr Lewis said he ‘wouldn’t have been able to do it’, he writes that he ‘feels deeply’ for Ashley’s parents. “I neither support nor condone the specifics of their decision,? he writes, “[but] my wife and I know all too well the anxieties they face in trying to do the best for their child.?

Mr Lewis’ son, Andrew, was born with severe disabilities meaning he has no voluntary movement. In a moving article Mr Lewis describes how the family struggled to care for Andrew until it became apparent when he was five that they could no longer cope with the 24-hour-a-day needs of their spastic quadriplegic son. He writes, “In my view, unless you have had a severely disabled child, you cannot possibly begin to imagine the choices you might find yourself making.?

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