An increasing number of families are reportedly turning to a controversial medical treatment to permanently stunt the growth of their children with severe disabilities.

The approach, known as the “Ashley treatment” after a Seattle-area girl who first underwent it, includes hormone therapy and surgery to keep children physically small and prevent sexual maturity.

At least 12 children — most of them girls — have followed through or are in the process of receiving the Ashley treatment, according to The (London) Guardian. And, thousands of families are reportedly interested in the method.

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Parents say that in pursing the Ashley treatment they are doing what’s in the best interest of their kids who have severe disabilities and insist they are improving their children’s quality of life.

Physically, parents indicate that stunting growth ensures they’ll be able to move their children even into adulthood. What’s more, they say they are keeping their daughters from the pain and inconvenience that can be associated with menstruation.

Disability advocates, however, argue that the Ashley treatment violates the civil rights of those with disabilities and creates a “slippery slope,” reports The (London) Guardian. To read more click here.