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Agency, duties and the “Ashley treatment”


In 2006, a paper in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine described a novel case of growth attenuation therapy and other treatments carried out on Ashley, a severely cognitively, neurologically and physically disabled 6-year-old girl. Some of the moral arguments that have sprung up in respect of the so-called “Ashley treatment” are considered, and it is suggested that they all miss something—that the proper treatment of Ashley may have as much to do with doctors’ duties to themselves as with their duties to her. It is suggested that the Ashley treatment may have been in violation of doctors’ self-regarding duties and that this possibility is worthy of further investigation.

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