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Human Rights Activists Sleepless In Seattle

Its a battle between the lesser of two evils or the better of two goods, in the case of Ashley. Ashley, known to the world by just one name , is a severely disabled nine -year old- girl. In addition to extreme physical disability, mental disability as well renders her mind akin to a three-month-old baby.

Ashleys parents who have remained anonymous till now have outlined their treatment and care of their daughter, whom they refer to as the pillow angel, on an online website.

Yet ever since they published accounts of an operation; a hysterectomy, performed on Ashley, which they granted approval to believing it to be in the best interests of their daughter, they as well as the hospital that performed the operation have been under fire.

The suit against Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center, Seattle, was filed by the patient-rights group, the Washington Protection and Advocacy System (WPAS). According to them, performing the operation on a minor like Ashley without prior permission from a court was a violation of Ashley's constitutional and common-law rights.

Incidentally, the operation has halted the physical and sexual development of Ashley, as well as her ability to become pregnant.

In response, the hospital admitting a communication breakdown, agreed that it was acting outside the law when its doctors performed the controversial hysterectomy even when her parents and doctors had concluded the operation was in Ashleys best interests. Hospital officials now acknowledge they should first have sought court approval for the 2004 surgery on the girl.

Ashleys parents have explained why they took the extreme step of stunting their childs growth- by series of interventions like the hysterectomy, high doses of hormones to stop her bones from growing and surgery to stop her breasts from developing.

They say that it was in the best interests of their daughter, as the operations would make Ashle
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