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Q: best interests arguements re involuntary sterilisation of mentally retarded ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: best interests arguements re involuntary sterilisation of mentally retarded
Category: Science > Social Sciences
Asked by: lullu-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 15 Feb 2004 01:32 PST
Expires: 16 Mar 2004 01:32 PST
Question ID: 306937
there were a no. of papers published in the 1980's/1970s on substitute
descision-making and guidelines/pointers that might be considered when
thinking about "best interests" when considering involuntary
sterilisation (ie.without the persons consent if they lack
descision-making capacity) forpeople with mental retardation.Do you
have any references/papers about
this area, particularily more recent ones, or court descisions
Subject: Re: best interests arguements re involuntary sterilisation of mentally retarded
Answered By: majortom-ga on 16 Feb 2004 10:16 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
This area of the law has changed drastically since the last supreme
court case that directly addressed the issue.  (Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S.

Legally, however, it still appears to be a matter left up to the
states.  Many states still have laws on the books which allow for
involuntary sterilization.  (For example, here is the OR law: , and the HI law:
)  What these laws and state cases such as Conservatorship of Valerie
N. [(1985) 40 Cal.3d 143 ]
underscore is the importance of evaluating other available methods of
contraception.  FDA approval of less permanent methods of birth
control (such as Norplant or Depoprovera) may have resulted in fewer
of these cases.

I have found a few articles addressing this issue:  (_Journal of Law and
Health_ article from 1992, clarifying the difference between the best
interest standard and substituted judgment doctrine)  (1989 article of
the state of NY law on this topic)
(Abstract of 1994 article in the _Journal of Reproductive Medicine_ on
parental attitutes toward sterilization of developmentally disabled

Additional Case Law:

In re Lora Faye Wirsing, Developmental Disabled Person
___Mich___(1998), #1044834  (1998 MI case very similar to Valerie N) (description of findings)

Request for Answer Clarification by lullu-ga on 16 Feb 2004 14:47 PST
Is there any UK cases /references to this issue ?? Thanks for your
helpful references to U.S.A cases and legislation

Clarification of Answer by majortom-ga on 16 Feb 2004 15:49 PST
There have been a few recent court decisions in the UK finding against

Here is an article about a UK sterilization case from 2000:

Here is the decision:

The court found that the less invasive measure of an IUD should be tried first.  

In a 1999 decision, the Court of Appeal also found that a man with
Down's Syndrome could not be involuntarily sterilized:

A practice note outlining how to use the best interests test from 2001:
lullu-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
thnank v.helpful,and the clarification with UK cases much appreciated.

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