The press in the UK is reporting that Katie Thorpe will not have a hysterectomy. Readers of this blog will recall the Thorpe case is similar to the Ashley Treatment that sparked wide spread controversy in 2007. A spokeswoman for the Mid Essex Hospital NHS Trust refused to comment on the Thorpe case due to patient confidentiality. Two disability rights groups, Scope and the Disabled People's Council were pleased with the decision.
I am relieved that Ms. Thorpe's will not be subjected to surgery. I wish others, including Katie Thorpe's mother, felt this way but based on comments in newspapers such as the Telegraph and Daily Mail, this is not the case. Indeed, the venom spewed toward disability rights is nothing short of stunning. Ms. Thorpe's mother claims she had "overwhelming support" and that the NHS was scared by a tiny minority--disability rights groups such as Scope. Thorpe's mother cited "political correctness" as being a factor in the refusal to remove her daughter's womb and stated in the Daily Mail that "the Trust has bowed down to what they perceived to be public opinion". Apparently Thorpe was told that the surgery would not be performed because it was not clinically necessary.
Two of the aforementioned disability rights groups, Scope and the Disabled People's Council, were singled out by Thorpe for sharp criticism. Thorpe's comments were echoed by the vast majority of comments published in newspapers. The comments I read were all supportive of Thorpe and graphically illustrate the cultural divide between those with and without a disability remains immense. Here is a small sampling of what some had to say:
"Katie's mum know what's best for her in this case" and the "buffoons should back down"
"People who know nothing about the family's day-to-day situation are just full of what's right and wrong"
"Nature, for whatever reason, has essentially taken away this girls normal life"
"Disabled groups are delighted, shame on you"
"Its all about the well being and quality of life of a person, why is this even an issue?"
"This is ludicrous! Common sense needs to be brought in occasionally"
The Ashley Treatment and Thorpe case are disturbing at multiple levels and are not yet resolved. In the United States Douglas Diekema who was the medical ethicist involved in the Ashley Treatment is on the lecture circuit speaking about the so called "Pillow Angel". Katie Thorpe's mother vows to keep fighting and hopes her daughter will eventually be permitted to have a hysterectomy. These developments are troubling and demonstrate that equality for disabled people is illusive and an up hill battle.
Paralyzed since I was 18 years old, I have spent much of the last 30 years thinking about the reasons why the social life of crippled people is so different from those who ambulate on two feet. After reading about the so called Ashley Treatment I decided it was time to write a book about my life as a crippled man. My book, Bad Cripple: A Protest from an Invisible Man, will be published by Counter Punch. I hope my book will completed soon.
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Friday, January 18, 2008
Katie Thorpe: No Hysterectomy and Disability Rights Attacked
Posted by william Peace at 5:00 AM
PhD 1992 in anthropology Columbia University, I am interested in disability rights and bioethics.
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Watch the video "Female Anatomy: the Functions of the Female Organs" at www.hersfoundation.org/anatomy.
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