Christine Ryan


reproduction, sterilization, court order, civil rights


This Note discusses the recent controversy surrounding a six-year-old girl named Ashley, whose parents chose to purposefully stunt her growth and remove her reproductive organs for nonmedical reasons. A federal investigation determined that Ashley’s rights had been violated because doctors performed the procedure, now referred to as the “Ashley Treatment,” without first obtaining a court order. However, the investigation did not make any conclusions regarding whether the “Ashley Treatment” could present a legally permissible treatment option in the future. After discussing the constitutional rights that the “Ashley Treatment” implicates and the current legal standards in place, this Note examines how courts have applied these legal standards to cases involving extreme requests. Drawing upon legal commentators, this Note concludes that a court could approve a request for the “Ashley Treatment” in appropriate and limited cases where the parents have presented clear and convincing evidence before a court that the benefits that the “Ashley Treatment” would provide to the child and her family outweigh the risks associated with the procedure. This Note argues that those benefits may include extrinsic considerations, but courts should remain cautious when considering such evidence and be sure that the evidence as a whole supports their conclusions.

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