Friday, February 23, 2007

John Hockenberry – “Ashley X: Straight on till mourning”

The lack of public outrage about the Ashley Treatment continues to be on my mind. And I know that the Ashley Treatment is still influencing others as well: Amanda who dedicates her video, In My Language, to “Ashley X and everyone else who’s ever been considered not thinking, not a person, not communicating, not comprehending and so on and so forth”; Wheelchair Dancer, who wants her family to “understand the world (she) lives in”; Blue who feels a renewed call to “speak (her) own truth”; Penny who has been reading about Chinese foot binding.

I greatly appreciate hearing John Hockenberry’s perspective, Ashley X: Straight on till mourning. He examines the controversy from several angles, particularly addressing the role of parents in society. It’s a must read, an articulate piece that pulls together so many points and gets right to the heart of the issues.

Here are a few excerpts:

"In a kind of grim Peter Pan story in reverse Ashley’s parents believe they have guaranteed their ability to care for their daughter as they themselves age by keeping her forever a child."
"It is odd to hear the many criticisms and challenges to the Ashley Treatment (a considerable number from disability activists) called ‘lofty talk about human dignity.’ It’s curious to imagine that human dignity is somehow removed from reality while the Ashley family’s lofty talk about parental love and nurturing that forms the basis for their decision to medically stunt their daughter’s growth and interrupt her biological development is, in contrast, a response to pragmatic reality."
"Disability has nothing to do with the morality of the Ashley Treatment."

"Regardless of their love and affection for their daughter their decision to remove her breasts and uterus and maintain her in a state of pre-puberty is not a parental decision. It is more the kind of control one might enforce on a pet to manage the relationship. It is something a farmer managing the productivity of his or her operation would naturally enforce on livestock. This would be done humanely, morally, and no-doubt with considerable tender affection and love for the subjects. There would be no outcry and no controversy, yet no one would confuse these acts of husbandry as parenthood."

Please go read it. It will make you think.

If you’d like to sign “A Statement of Solidarity for the Dignity of People With Disabilities - A Reaction to the Ashley Treatment”, go here.

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