Forever Young

Ashley X is not a character from Peter Pan, but like the Lost Boys, she too will never grow up.

Controversy is now surrounding the young girl, who underwent surgery at Seattle Children's Hospital when she was 6-years-old, to keep her a "child" forever.

Due to a severe brain impairment known as static encephalopathy, Ashley cannot walk, talk, keep her head up in bed, or swallow food.

Ashley's parents and doctors decided it was best to keep her a "child," by removing her uterus, appendix and breast buds. She now takes high levels of estrogen to stunt her growth and keep her at a predicted height of 4 feet 5 inches and weight of 75 pounds.

By prohibiting natural adult progression from occurring, Ashley's parents will be able to care for her at home and she will not have the "discomfort" associated with menstrual cycles and will not be at risk for certain cancers, such as uterine or breast. READ MORE

What do you think? Did the parents and doctors go too far, or was it in Ashley's best interest to have these drastic surgeries? Write to us at and check in later to see if your response is posted!

Here's what FOX fans are saying:

"The parents showed great courage and love in the actions that they took. No one can fault them, even if they have walked the same path. Blessings to the family. And thanks for not pushing your 'Angel' off onto the taxpayers as so many in similar situations do. " — RM (Colorado)

"On a practical basis, think about dealing with an infant who is the same size as you are and you aren't getting any younger! Now think about how you are going to move that "infant" in and out of bed, in and out of the bathtub, in and out of the car, diapering ... you get the idea? Also, after having had the hysterectomy, she won't have periods. Do you think that having them would have "enhanced" her life somehow? Yes, she will never have a "normal" life and she would not have had a "normal" life before the surgery/medication. By the way, do you think it was the parent's idea originally to do the surgery/medication? Don't you think the doctors are more qualified to make these judgments than the media? Interesting that it's ok to remove the feeding tube from a young woman who is functioning at the "infant" level, with the goal being that she will die [from dehydration/starvation], but it's not ok to limit a child's growth to ultimately improve the quality of her life? By the way, the alternative is that the parents could put her in a State institution for care ... is that somehow better?" — Teresa

"Can any story be worse? How dare they (doctors, lazy parents) decide anyone's destiny!" — Fumica

"As a person who works with mentally challenged individuals at a state facility, I see a lot of clients parents who cannot stay at home, simply because their child is now an adult, with a young child's mentality. The parents would need around-the-clock care for their disabled child and may not be able to afford this. It takes a lot of time, patience and strength to dress and feed an adult individual who cannot help themselves, but deserves good care. Many of our clients parents are elderly and cannot deal with an adult child who either do not know their own strength or can not even stand up on their own. They are at our facility, not because the parents don't love them, but because they are not able to give them the care they deserve. Please don't judge Ashley's parents to harshly because they want to be able to care for their daughter themselves. I believe they have her best interest at heart. Our clients at most get visits from their parents when they can, some don't get that." — V (Louisiana)

"Why are you making such a big deal about this terrible situation? Why not contemplate what the child and her caregivers would have to deal with if the parents had not done what they did." — Guadalupe

"Speaking from a parent with a child just like Ashley, I can't decide what I think. Is it immoral? I don't know. In a lot of ways, it makes since to me. My daughter is just about to turn 16 and she is very heavy, she's about 130 lbs, so it really limits when and where we can take her as far as changing her diaper and lifting her. She is completely immobile and when she was lighter she could at least stand in her walker and her prone stander. We did take her with us a lot more when she didn't weigh so much. As far as her periods go, that really doesn't bother my husband or I, but having someone sexually assault her and the possibility of her having a pregnancy really bothers me. (and believe me there are a lot of weirdo's out there!) I wish I knew more about the possible side effects of these procedures, because if there aren't any side effects, I'm not too sure I don't agree. This is coming from a very pro-life, Catholic girl. I surprise myself. I think there should be something wrong about this but I can't quite see it, after taking care of my daughter. It's really not so much about making it easier on us, the caregivers, as it is freeing her up to be able to go and do more things with us. we just can't physically take her with us a lot." — Tim

"Sick, they are sick. With their logic, anyone who's not 100% perfect could potentially be sentenced for life in a zombie like state."— Bill (Virginia)

"I went to their website and read their position. I am completely against their decision. While reading, I could not get the notion of 'convenience' out of my mind. It is inconvenient that her body would grow to 5'6", that she would develop breasts, and that her body should develop naturally. Trying to use excuses, such as risk of uterine cancer or potential sex crime victimization, proves that they are pulling for straws to defend their position. When we start manipulating the natural process of another human being to make our lives easier, society suffers. They've made those choices for her … I just wish she had one." — T (Huntsville, AL)

"As a mother, I cannot believe this story. It is absolutely disgusting what they did to this child. The parents and the doctors need to be held accountable." — Lisa (Portsmouth, NH)

"I think Ashley's parents did what they believe to be in the best interest of their child. It is easy to judge a person's actions without having an understanding of the difficulties and process behind the decisions made. Parents who raise a child with a disability have a blessing and a burden parents with healthy children cannot understand. I applaud Ashley's parents for consulting with doctors and coming up with treatment for her that is progressive in nature and that should improve her quality of life. I would caution parents of healthy children from making a hasty judgment. Until we have walked a mile in Ashley's parents' shoes, we should not judge their actions." — Nancy

"I think they're doing the right thing. My heart goes out to these parents and their child, caught in the horrible trap of a forever illness. God bless them and the child." — Linda

"This unfortunate child's parents have obviously done what they felt was best for their child. It was their decision to make, and I commend them and Ashley's doctors for their moral character and courage. If I were faced with this situation, I may not have been so brave as to make the same choices. Best of wishes to Ashley, her parents, and their family. May all of you find peace and happiness." — Evelyn

"I think the parents made a difficult decision; one that most of us pray we never have to make. I definitely don't think the parents or the doctors went too far. To make an already difficult situation even slightly easier for the parents makes sense to me. I don't understand why they would be faulted for that. I commend their strength and fortitude. " — Deborah

"Many are saying this is just being done for the convenience of the parents. To a certain extent this is true, but I don't think the parents have really denied this. I think the parents did what they thought was best for their child. If they did not care about her, they would not even bother raising her themselves. The bottom line is none of us know the whole story. None of us are dealing with the situation on a daily basis. So none of us have a right to judge them or the choice they made." — Steve

"I really think it was in the child's best interest. The child is not a vegetable; she benefits emotionally from interacting with family members, but she is clearly too impaired to speak, move her limbs, or have a sexual relationship. Nevertheless, without treatment she will grow up, grow heavier, grow longer and more awkward, and become harder for her aging parents to care for at home. This way they avoid having to institutionalize her when they can no longer pick her up to bathe her, or to move her from her couch to her bed. If she were institutionalized, she would go downhill very quickly; they almost always do so. This is actually a no-brainer." — Shirin

"I feel incredible sadness for the parents. They are doing what they feel is best for Ashley. Let's not be so self-righteous as to presume to understand what they are feeling. Do not make a judgment until you have walked in their moccasins. It appears from the photos that Ashley is an important part of their family. They have not been trying to hide her. In fact, she is probably at the highest level she can attain. My prayers are with them." — Judi

"Ashley will not be a child forever, she will age like the rest of us but with much fewer problems. Her size will be smaller, but hey I am only 4'11." — Anonymous

"I just read over the family website. I feel badly for them. I tried to understand the reasoning behind the idea's Ashley's parents have, BUT in all honesty, God gives you a child. Each child is a miracle. God placed that child on earth for a reason. I do not think they have the right to do this to her." — J (Coventry, RI)

"Is there a good choice for these parents or for this child? As a parent of two wonderfully healthy, intelligent and well-adjusted children, I thank God every day. And for these parents, shall we offer prayer and not offer criticism nor advice because their choices might not have been our own?" — Shirley

"Medical decisions, such as this issue, needs to be left to the parents and the medical community and not be tossed around by the liberal and religious bloggers. If it was unethical or a flawed medical practice, the medical community would not support it." — Gary (Yuma AZ)

"I think the parents and especially the doctor went too far. This was done for the parents and not for the child. What is next? There are many babies born who will have this happening to them, with technology keeping more babies alive, I can see this becoming 'the norm.'"— Freddie (Missouri)

"Please share with your viewers the facts about Ashley's mental status and tell them that she is incapable of ever doing any of the things that a normal or even disabled child could do. She is just like a newborn infant and will forever remain that way until she dies." — Alice

"This situation is one of those rare sad ordeals. As a parent, I could never imagine having to make a decision like that. This is an isolated case and should stay isolated. I know of humankind's lust for youth and longevity, but let's keep this incident in perspective ... an isolated case. Because the child is not able to express her own desires, it is the obligation of the parents to speak for her and act upon her best interests. So, all you evil liberals, let's keep this where it belongs ... one isolated medically necessary incident." — Mark

"I know a couple that have a daughter with a similar syndrome and I am sure if they had the money, they would have done whatever they could to make her time on earth more pleasant for her and for them. They were told she would not live to see her teen years and she is now close to 30-years-old. Unless you walk in these people's shoes, you have no idea what they go through." — Cliff

"I don't think that we, as outsiders, people who do not know or love Ashley, can possibly know what is in her best interest. Further, I do not believe that it is any of our business. It is a private matter and one that I am certain is very painful for this family." —

"Although I disagree with most of this type of medical procedure, I think that in this case the parents and the doctors did the right thing. It will help the parents to keep the girl at home with them rather than sending her to an institution" — Patrick (Canada)

"I have to admit that it's absolutely mortifying that these parents are ALLOWED to do this! It's an abomination to this poor child, and the fact that there are others "in" on it is truly despicable! What about the rights of the child? The parents doing this out of convenience to themselves? Outrageous! I'm convinced that this is abuse! This is no different than if the parents chose to beat the daughter. Why is it okay that they can legally maim her? Truly, I'm totally disgusted." — Jennifer (Colorado Springs, CO)

"The headlines read like the media has already judged these parents, comparing them to Frankenstein. Then, I read the whole story and their blog. Ashley would never grow up, no matter what these parents did. They chose to keep her physically closer to her mental age. I think her parents really did what was best for her. Besides, very few, if any, in this world are qualified to judge these parents." — Lynda

"I am certain that everyone's best interest was in mind when these surgeries were carried out. I know the kind of adult that Ashley would have become and believe me, everyone is better off this way. I am sure these parents did not come by their decision lightly. They are to be commended for their courage." — Lynn

"I have a severely disabled son who is 12 and I would never deprive his of growing up into adulthood. I think Ashley's parents are very wrong in their argument to perform these surgeries. What about the discomfort she went through in the operation and recovering? Also, there are shots many young women today get for birth control that prevents them from getting a period. A simple shot every few months would be a lot easier on the girl than major surgery! This is obvious a case of convenience for the parents." — Cindi

"After reading the parents reasons for taking the course that they did, I believe that it was in Ashley's best interest. Brain function wise she will always be a child, why not allow her body to do the same, rather then suffer the discomfort of an adult women's body placing more of a burden on her physically as well as her parents. These parents are loving and caring to this child, she functions to the best of her ability, and appears happy in her environment. In a time when some parents in society abandon and abuse their children, it is refreshing to see parents that accept their child just the way she is and strive to do what is best for her. This should not be an issue for public scrutiny. No one has the right to criticize these parents unless they have been in a similar situation. May God bless these parents and this child." — Rosemarie

"I say the parents did what was needed to take of a child they love and made the decision and had the courage to do what it took to keep that child with them and be assured of her care. People should thank them for the love they have and the wiliness to do what it takes to be assured that, that child will be well loved and taken care of, not put in a facility for others to care of and all the problems that will come with not being taken care as closely as a parent can when they only have one person to take care and love that person. I speak as a person knowing what a nursing facility is like." — Catherine (Ocean Springs, MS)

"I have to say that while this may seem sick and perverse to some. I can understand why these parents chose this road. I mean here is a child who will never consent to sex, never date, never eat by her self, never walk, hold conversation, or be able to live even moderately independent. If she would be one of many woman whose menstrual cycle bring horribly painful cramping why make her suffer more? Why put her through that? Her parents have taken what they consider the only gift they can give their child. They control her pain, her bodies natural way developing so they can protect her. Now if this was a child who had no mental illness than yes I would be the first on a plane and at their door, but its not. It is a little girl who wouldn't understand the normal aches and pains of being a woman." — Patricia

"I definitely agree with Ashley's parents concerning taking measures so that they may be better able to care for her in the future. This is not a black and white issue. Each of these cases is unique. Ashley is, in reality, an infant in a growing girls body. I definitely believe they did the right thing for Ashley." — Kathy (Texas)

"It amazes me that a society which is so much in favor of aborting inconvenient children could be so outraged at this attempt to make this poor child a little more comfortable in her affliction. I'm sure most of the people who think this is offensive would have been much happier if the mother had eliminated her little girl before she was born." — Christine

"I think these parents have made the best possible decision for the daughter whom they seem to adore. This is not a disabled child who has been ignored or institutionalized, but rather one who is loved, well cared for, and included in her family's activities and lives. This decision to aid in Ashley's comfort and well-being doesn't even warrant any question or doubt." — Jo Ann

"Think Ashley's parents should be arrested for child abuse & neglect by making their child go through these surgeries to keep her young and safe! A child having a hysterectomy by or at age 6 is insane. I have had a hysterectomy, many surgeries prior to and following that hysterectomy for adhesion's/scar tissues some of which other things in the abdominal area have had to be removed. I have also had adhesion's wrap around major nerves. These types of surgery by all means does not make a person remain younger at all, its quite the opposite. They have negatively impacted my life, my mobility, the abilities I once had, and the quality of my life. The adhesion's caused by surgeries changes the way my organs function as well. Ashley's parents should be arrested for child abuse! " — J (Shelton, CT)

"Being the parent of two perfectly healthy boys ages 6 and 8, I cannot imagine the day to day routine of caring for a handicapped child. Therefore, I will not judge these parents. They did what they felt was best for their daughter, just as you and I do on a daily basis. If some of our decisions were to be broadcast nationwide, would the public at large heartily agree with our every move? I hardly think so. Yes, this was a major decision, and if faced with the same thing, I know I would seek wise council, as have these loving parents. Let's not be too quick to cast judgment." — Cher (Flint, MI)

"These poor parents should be left alone to make their decision as they did with the doctors involved and the hospital's ethics committee. I commend these parents for their decisions and their desire to care for their daughter in their home for as long as possible. There were no wrong decisions here, as it has been reported that this poor child has no understanding of her world around her and no hope for cure or a full or normal life of any sort. These parents clearly felt their actions would protect their child and make her life easier. No one should add to these parents' grief by questioning their decisions which clearly were guided by professionals and thoughtfully considered.

I have heard of hysterectomies recommended for children who are mentally retarded but much higher functioning than this child. This recommendation stems from the notion that eventually when parents are too aged to care for their child that the child will at some time have to be in institutional care and vulnerable to sexual abuse, pregnancies that they cannot understand or handle, etc. So certain of the procedures performed have been routinely recommended for much higher functioning children.

People's time would be better spent questioning the decisions of parents who prevent their children from receiving potentially life-saving medical care such as those who do so for religious beliefs or, for example, the parents in the news who permitted their daughter to forgo radiation treatment for her cancer … which today — predictably — has been reported as having returned with a very aggressive cancerous tumor. That is a sad, sad situation, and that child may lose her life as a result. Those are the decisions which should be questioned!" — Kendra

"How is removing her reproductive organs and breast buds any different than keeping her on feeding tubes and life support? Whether you're keeping her young or you're keeping her alive, you're going against nature. She wouldn't make it in this world without constant medical attention, so if you're going to fault the parents and doctors for stripping her of her reproductive abilities, you should also be faulting them for stripping her of her right to die. If they're going to keep her alive, she might as well be more comfortable." — Kari (VA)

"There is much talk about God's will, so where does it go when it comes to creating children in a test tube and keeping people alive with heroic measures, such as Terry Shiavo, even when they have no quality of life. Whom among us would want to be artificially kept alive in the conditions of Terry and Ashley? Even if there was a chance we would one day recover? I think once our quality of life, our consciousness is gone, it is time to let go. As in everything else from the "Christian" right, the beliefs are flexible, bent to suit the current mood." — Pat (Frankston, Texas)

"I believe it was definitely in Ashley's best interests. Since she will never mature mentally or have any possibility of leading even the semblance of a normal life, sparing her the problems, discomforts, and potential diseases associated with growth and sexual maturity was the right thing to do. We must face the fact that nature (or God if you will) does not necessarily act in an individual's best interests. If it did we wouldn't need the medical profession or to spend billions on health care every year." — Ed (Redmond, WA)

"Ashley's parents acted out of their own self-interest. Since Ashley does not have the capacity to speak for herself, the court should have appointed a Guardian Ad Litem to act on their daughter's behalf. She is a person, not a pet!" — Wanda (Antioch, TN)

"What are these parents thinking? She wasn't going to have a typical life from the start but now she doesn't even have a shot of being herself. Doctors, and the parents, went too far. Both wanted either medical journal recognition or the "easier" life of dealing with a disabled person. Life isn't always easy." — Pam (Texas)

"As a father of a daughter who has the same symptoms of Ashley, I can say that I back the parents on this one. You should realize that there are many sick people out there that may take advantage of her at least this way, she's protected from carrying a child. There is a lot of medical complications that come with a child like this, the older they get, and the more developed they become more than most parents of normal children realize." — Jim (Tennessee)

"What kind of medical doctor would perform or even suggest an operation to remove healthy organs or tissue without any medical benefit? The doctor who performed this operation on Ashley should lose his license to practice medicine. " — Kim (Biloxi, Mississippi)

"I highly doubt these parents underwent these procedures and actions without a great deal of input from the most credible sources of information they could uncover, beginning with their physicians and other professional advisors. I respectfully suggest we walk a mile in their shoes, or leave them alone. " — Deborah (Plano, TX)

"I think someone who is put in this position, can only be the ones who can speak out fairly. The parents are the ones who have to take care of their child and perform the normal physical activities this child cannot do. Can you physically lift another adult? Bathe them, put them on the toilet? I would think that it would be physically better for the child also, being able to be taken care of instead of it being almost impossible to be taken care of. " — Heidi (Nashville, TN)

"This is a clear and defining case of the worst kind of child abuse there can be! The technology may not exist today to help this child's condition but, what right do the parents have to permanently handicap this child further, guaranteeing she will never have a normal life? What right do any people have to "play God" with other people's lives? " — Mike (Derry, NH)

"I would not second guess the parents and the medical staff who know more about the situation than we do. Give them A+ for facing reality and caring for her and not in a nursing home. " — Robert

"The parents simply don't want to take care of a physically/mentally challenged adult later in years. They are looking out for their own interests. " — Art

"Ashley's parents could have let her die. Instead, they chose to incorporate Ashley and her circumstances into their lives. They chose to love her and take on the enormous challenges of such a severe condition. As the parent of a quadriplegic child who cannot swallow, I can attest that their decision to alter her growth pattern was not quickly or easily made. People who don't have a child like Ashley should shut their mouth, shut their eyes, and thank the heavens that they've never had to make such difficult decisions about someone they love so much." — Dana

"No one else should be involved, they did what they thought best Thank GOD it isn't an everyday occurrence. I would have probably made the same decision." — Robert (Abilene, TX)

"I can see where she is coming from but don't know that I could do it. As the mother gets older, she wouldn't be able to care for her as well if she was larger and had female problems. But I still could not do it," — Gene

"These parents ought to be left alone! They obviously researched their decisions, weighing doctor's advice, ethics, and above all Ashley's wellbeing and future quality of life. In my own opinion, I think they made the right decisions. But this is none of our business! I thought the blog written by Ashley's father was informative and showed a compassionate nature toward all, given that they want to make their "Ashley Treatment" public knowledge for other children who might benefit. I think it's a shame that this family was pressured to reveal so much of their personal lives to justify a personal medical decision. " — Lisa (Peachtree City, GA)

"I think it is terrible and selfish what the parents are doing to their daughter. These parents are robbing their daughter of living a normal life, just so they can have her the way they wish. Shame on them." — Steve (Jacksonville, MD)

"I applaud this family for doing what they can to make this girls life a comfortable as possible." — Dina

"As parents we do what we think is best for our children. We want to protect and keep our children safe from pain and suffering. I think you would have to be in the same situation as Ashley's parents are, before you could truthfully say what your decision would be. Ashley's parents love her and did they thought was best for her." — Dolly (West Virginia)

"This situation is private between the parents and their medical providers and should not include the media and public. Do not judge someone until you have walked in their shoes." — Karen (Cortland, NY)

"Given the state of the child and her condition I agree with the parents. As a disabled child gets bigger and heavier it will be harder for the parents. In this case I agree with the parents." — Kirk

"I think this is an isolated case and that her parents are trying to do whatever they can to make her life comfortable. I can only imagine how difficult it has been for them to make these decisions, but as her legal guardians, I believe they have the right to act in her best interest. It is unfair for the parents to have to endure the scrutiny and criticism of their actions from people who have no idea what it has been like for them and their daughter. Leave them alone. It's really nobody else's business and the press should not make it more painful by putting a huge spotlight on this." — Jacqueline

"It is very selfish and irresponsible of the parents to keep a child from growing up and experience life as an adult! A child is a gift from God, not a thing you can mold into what you want. Whoever was on this ethic committee should be suspended from their position forever — that was an irresponsible and perverted decision on their part. What will they decide or think up next?" — Robert (Vermont)

"Only these parents know their situation. From all reports, it sounds as if these parents took a lot into consideration before making these very difficult decisions." — Michelle