I recently came across an article about a family that had made what many consider to be dramatically controversial decisions about their daughter. Young Ashley is severely disabled. According to her parents, in an effort to improve her care and protect her in the years to come, they authorized a hysterectomy and also removed her breast buds and appendix. This all happened three years ago. They also currently have her on high doses of estrogen to minimize physical growth. It is estimated she will grow to be about 4’ 5” tall at full maturity.
[See story http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,241279,00.html]
The reason this came up now is that the doctors involved wrote a paper about it for a medical journal. Predictably, reaction has been passionate and mixed. So much was said about this that the parents finally wrote a response and posted it on the internet.
As I read the reasons Ashley’s parents offered for their actions, two things became crystal clear: They love their daughter and believe they did what is best for her. At first glance, in my estimation, their decisions are very logical and practical for her long term care.
So why do I still feel something in the pit of my stomach?
My son said they took away what makes her a girl. I don’t think so. She is and will always still be their little girl.
Is it that we look to our outer shell to define some of who we are?
She will never live on her own. She will never be a mother and likely, she’ll never be a wife. But they didn’t take her personality or soul. If our bodies are merely a vessel, does the surgery in question alter the feminine personality God created?
My son has had ten surgeries all of which we had done to improve the quality of his life. Doctors have altered his legs by rotating them, they’ve lengthening heal cords and ham strings and they’ve fused bones together in his feet to enable him to walk.
Has Ashley’s story created an uproar because it involves her reproductive organs? Culture often suggests that “normal” people mature, marry and produce children. But God’s plan often deviates from the norm. For various reasons, women regularly undergo hysterectomies. It’s a procedure that doesn’t only change lives – but it saves them too!
Yet for all of the changes it brings forth, it’s also a procedure that doesn’t alter the basic physiological components that define her femininity.
Perhaps my seeming uncertainty surrounding this subject is due to the fact that I hold on to hope. I hope in a miracle that God will heal her – and that he’ll heal my son. To the world, this might appear to be a fool’s hope. But I hold on to it.
I pray for healing; but I often live as if it will never happen. Sometimes, I even fear to pray for it, knowing that my hopes maybe dashed. Could He do it? Of course! Will He? I have no answer. Maybe I am afraid to face the reality that it may come after this lifetime, after everyone is made whole again. This side of heaven, we might just have to be who we are. My fear is that if I do something drastic today, I’ll screw up something else planned for tomorrow. Like in those movies where someone goes back in time. They step on a bug and in doing so, change the course of the future!
The parents of Ashley report they are acting today to improve her future. I’m just not exactly sure how – and I’m not certain if their actions really will.