Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Protecting the Rights of Ashley X and Other Children

The Washington Protection and Advocacy System (WPAS) issued a report today on the results of their investigation of the "Ashley Treatment". (This agency investigates allegations of abuse and neglect of persons with disabilities in the state of Washington.) To read the full report of their findings and of the corrective actions required of the hospital click here.

"The sterilization portion of the "Ashley Treatment" was conducted in violation of Washington State law, resulting in violation of Ashley's constitutional and common law rights.

-The Washington Supreme Court has held that a court order is required when parents seek to sterilize their minor or adult children with developmental disabilities, and at the individual must be zealously represented by a disinterested third party in an adversarial proceeding to determine whether the sterilization is in the individual's best interests.
-Courts have also limited parental authority to consent to other types of medical interventions that are highly invasive and/or irreversible, particularly when the interest of the parent may not be identical to the interests of the child. Thus, the other aspects of the "Ashley Treatment" - surgical breast bud removal and hormone treatments - should also require independent court evaluation and sanction before being performed on any person with a developmental disability.
-The implementation of the "Ashley Treatment" also raises discrimination issues because, if not for the individual's developmental disabilities, the interventions would not be sought. Such discrimination against individuals because of their disabilities is expressly forbidden by state and federal law."

The WPAS explores why the violations occurred and states the corrective actions that Children's Hospital will take to protect the rights of children in their care. Some of those actions include: implementing "a policy to prohibit sterilizations of persons with developmental disabilities without a court order", implementing "a policy to prohibit growth-limiting medical interventions on persons with developmental disabilities without a court order", and including a disability rights advocate on the hospital ethics committee. The WPAS also states their plans to work with the public, health insurance companies, health care providers and disability advocates to improve services and supports for children with disabilities and their families.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

David - Glad you caught this! I just happened upon WPAS' report today as I was trying to avoid work. Ashley's parents had the link to the report up on their site, which is how I found it. Unfortunately, their response to it is... well, I guess it's predictable. My interpretation of their reply is they think one's rights to due process is directly related to degree of disability. I'm incredibly saddened, by their response, but more so by the lack of spotlight on WPAS' report, which I think is absolutely phenomenal in terms of validating the rights of everyone regardless of ability as well as the fact that this procedure was in fact discriminatory (at least, that's how I read their findings). Glad you have this up - sure do wish this was getting the attention it deserves.