Friday night’s Larry King Live discussion centered around a family who had surgical and hormonal treatment for their daughter, Ashley, now 9 years old, to basically keep her as a child. She has been referred to as the “pillow angel”. Basically, if I understand it, she was given hormones to stunt her growth. Her parents will be able to lift her longer because of this procedure. Additionally she was given a hysterectomy so that she will not experience bleeding or painful cramps from menses and had her breasts removed so that they will not grow normally. Apparently, the parents believed that she would be more comfortable without experiencing menstruation and developing breasts.
A search on Google displayed over a million sites that comment on this controversy. Here are two for Times articles: Part 1 and Part 2.
I have read many of them and also had a discussion on our Yahoo group. The more I thought about it, the more I thought maybe instead of taking sides on the controversy we should be asking the question about why parents have to make such difficult decisions.
I do want to be clear that I am not advocating for this radical treatment or necessarily agreeing with it. Joni Eareckson Tada made the comment on the King show that it was alarming that this kind of treatment could set precedents. That alarms me greatly. Our history demonstrates that treatment can be universal. In the past all people with special needs be sterilized to reduce the incidence of mental retardation. Also many people were locked up in large institutions that could have functioned successfully in the community.
We have to ask ourselves if there was adequate resources and support for parents of complex children and adults would the parents have felt they needed this treatment to assure they could keep Ashley in their care for as long as possible.
Until next time,
Peggy Lou Morgan
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