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Stunting Disabled Children's Growth is 'Morally Permissible,' Group Says

2nd December, 2010

[Source:  Seattle PI]
Four years after Seattle Children’s hospital created a firestorm of controversy by stunting the growth of a profoundly disabled girl, a Seattle-based group studying the ethics of growth attenuation has decided the procedure is “morally permissible” under certain conditions.
The 20-member group, which included doctors, ethicists and parents of disabled children from across the country, published their findings in the current issue of the Hastings Center Report, a prominent bioethics journal.
The group was unable to achieve a consensus on the polarized topic, which is often referred to as the “Ashley treatment,” after the 6-year-old girl who underwent the procedure at Children’s.
Instead, the group reached what it called a “compromise.”
Most members said stunting a child’s final height is an “ethically acceptable decision” that should only be considered for children who require total care, have an IQ of 25 or less, and have other persistent and profound disabilities.
“The paper was the product of trying to articulate these issues. What hospitals or other groups do with it is up to them,” said Benjamin Wilfond, a pediatrics professor at the University of Washington and director of Seattle Children’s Center for Pediatric Bioethics.
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