Ashley X is a Seattle woman born in 1997 with severe developmental disabilities. Her disability means that she will never progress further than having the intellectual and physical abilities of an infant.
In 2004 Ashley began to show signs of puberty. Her parents were her only full time care givers and were concerned about the possible effects on their ability to care for Ashley. As she grew, it took more effort to provide effective care and increased the chance of bedsores.
In 2007, her parents caused controversy when they began blogging about procedures their daughter underwent, which are now referred to as the Ashley treatment. The treatment was to stop her from experiencing any physical maturation through oestrogen therapy, the removal of her breast buds and a hysterectomy. Her parents wanted the surgeries to make Ashley easier to care for and minimize her menstrual pain.
Not only were the human rights of Ashley X violated as she provided no kind of consent to having the medical alterations but her parents lacked the legal rights to make such decisions for her. Many people with disabilities say that rather than invasive surgery to make Ashley easier to carry, there needs to be more care options available to people with disabilities.
The case of Ashley X has publicized the notion of people with developmental disabilities as a-sexual beings without agency over their own bodies. This has only added to the ableism and misconceptions disabled activists have to fight against.
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