The girl who will never grow up

The parents of severely brain-impaired 9-year-old Ashley have instructed doctors to treat her with high doses of oestrogen to stunt her growth; they claim it is the best way to ‘improve her quality of life’

Seattle : Her name is Ashley X, and she is the little girl who will never grow up. Until New Year’s Day, not even her first name was known. Ashley was a faceless case study, cited in a paper by two doctors at Seattle Children’s Hospital as they outlined a treatment so radical that it brought with it allegations of “eugenics”, of creating a 21st-century Frankenstein’s monster, of maiming a child for the sake of convenience.

The reason for the controversy is this: three years ago, when Ashley began to display early signs of puberty, her parents instructed doctors to remove her uterus, appendix and still-forming breasts, then treat her with high doses of oestrogen to stunt her growth. In other words, Ashley was sterilised and frozen in time, for ever to remain a child. She was only 6.

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