Saturday, April 19, 2008

An Illinois judge has denied a petition to sterilize a woman with intellectual disabilities

From the ChicagoTribune

Disability rights advocates and medical ethicists praised a precendent-setting ruling Friday by the Illinois Appellate Court denying a bid to sterilize a mentally disabled women against her will.

The woman, identified only as K.E.J. in court records, isn't capable of raising a child on her own, but her guardian failed to prove that sterilization would be in her best interests, a three-judge panel in Chicago ruled.

.... The ruling was the first appellate opinion on the issue in Illinois.

"Its extraordinarily significant" because it guarantees the disabled a court hearing, said Katie Watson, a Northwestern University professor who wrote a friend-of-the-court brief in the case on behalf of two dozen medical ethicists.

"In the past, this was a decision that could be made between a guardian and a doctor," she said. "The decision must be moved into the light."

The ruling means a guardian must go through some "significant legal hoops" before a court will order sterilization, said the woman attorney, John Whitcomb of Equip for Equality, a disability rights group.

Read the article in full here.