I wrote about this story over at Blogging Baby, and it brought up some really strong responses. What do you think about it?
A couple has three children. One of the children, a girl, has such profound disabilities that she will always have the mental capacity of an infant and she’ll never be able to care for herself in any way. The parents care for her in their home, where she appears to be happy — she vocalizes and smiles when her family interacts with her.
The parents, who are smart and loving and kind and desperately wanting to be able to continue caring for the girl, decided to prematurely arrest her growth so that they’d be able to keep her at home. The treatment included high doses of estrogen and a hysterectomy. She is six years old and isn’t expected to grow much bigger at all.
I understand the motivation, but looking at this case from a clinical standpoint, from the perspective of what precedent it sets, and with the question of this girl’s rights, did the parents do what was best for her?
I’m not sure. I know they didn’t just blindly do this, and I imagine that they may have some regrets over it. It just makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I worry about what door is being opened here. We’ve come a long way from the days when mentally ill patients were sterilized and this seems to be moving back to that time. I want to say that since the motivation was good, the action was too, but I don’t know if I can make that leap.
What do you think?