Jan 10, 2007

[Ethics] Pillow Talk

Image Source: Time Magazine; AFP/GETTY

The blogosphere has been pretty active in recent days when it comes to the topic of The "Ashley Treatment", which refers of course to the infamous decision by the parents of six-year-old Ashley, who suffers from brain damage, to authorize medical treatments to stop her growth.

The parents discussed this decision on their Windows Live Spaces blog, which really stoked the fires of the bloggin community with everyone taking sides on the issue.

Personally, I'm not perfectly decided on all this. On one side, one can't feel for the child and her situation - her mental faculties will not develop that far past her current state and dealing with an adult-sized body will not only be difficult but also potentially dangerous for some others who may have to deal with an adult-sized tantrum. So of course these treatments make sense from a logical perspective - minimize her problems and medically induce her body to maintain her as a child.

On the other hand, where does one cross the line, really? Where does sparing her added difficulty end and playing god begin? Some of the prposed treatments include removing her breasts and reproductive organs to spare her the female pains that begin after puberty - all well and good from a strictly logical perspective, but of course this action has other implications. Who is this really benefiting? Is this meant to truly help Pillow Angels like Ashely or lighten the load of those tasked with caring for these disabled individuals?

While the decision has already been made, I can't help but feel this is a sliding slope of sorts. We stand at the edge of a very dangerous precedent for other medical decisions that rely more on logic before factoring in ethics.

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