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Wednesday 23rd May 2018

The treatment of Ashley X

12th January 2007

20072006_scales1.jpgThe medical treatment given to Ashley X, in order to prevent her development from a girl into a woman, is condemned by The United Kingdom's Disabled Peoples Council.  What happened to the principle that treatment procedures should only be performed if they are of therapeutic benefit to the patient? 

We see this as being of no benefit to Ashley, but rather for the convenience of others - parents and carers – and we consider this to be inherently wrong.   We live in an age where there are sufficient people who can provide social care, relevant aids and equipment to assist disabled people to move around with the highest level of dignity.  There is therefore no need for the inhumane treatment which has been inflicted upon Ashley, violating her human right of growing up like her non disabled peers, free from medical interference.  

For many, the Ashley X case may be seen as an isolated incident, an extreme example of the American medical decision making processes.   We wonder, though.  Is there any real difference between the case of Ashley X and the choice by doctors to prescribe sedation medication to suppress the anger and frustration which disabled children with emotional and behavioural difficulties may experience, instead of working with the family in a therapeutic psychological setting?  Other similar examples are the over prescribing of drugs for disabled children with epilepsy, severely impairing their intellectual and physical functioning, simply in order to avoid any occasional fits which may cause inconvenience for their carers; or the fitting of a feeding tube in a youngster’s stomach in order to save the time of providing food and drink orally by the carers and parents.  

In the UK, medical procedures, including drug therapies, are being used to manipulate a disabled young person’s physical, intellectual or emotional functioning and wellbeing, in a similar way to Ashley X, in order to make ‘caring’ easier with little regard to his / her right to full bodily integrity.  


Simone Aspis   (United Kingdom’s Disabled Peoples Council’s Parliamentary and Campaigns Worker)

Please see the UKDPC website at  http://www.bcodp.org.uk/ for further information.                   

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Article Information

Title: The treatment of Ashley X
Author: James Blunt
Article Id: 1681
Date Added: 12th Jan 2007

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