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Human rights partner welcomes Court of Protection sterilisation ruling

Court of Protection judgment grapples with difficult ethical issues of the needs of an individual with learning difficulties

19 August 2013

Human rights partner Alison Millar, who advised filmmakers on the legal issues surrounding the wishes of a family who wanted to protect their daughter with learning disabilities from the risks of pregnancy by undergoing sterilisation, following her experience of acting for families, has reacted positively to a recent Court of Protection decision which has sanctioned the sterilisation of a man with learning difficulties who does not want to become a father again.

Mrs Justice Eleanor King ruled on Friday that the individual who has learning difficulties could undergo a vasectomy, stating that if he had another child he could suffer psychological harm. The individual (DE) already has one child with his girlfriend. DE had stated that he did not want to become a father again and the court heard that he did not have the capacity to make decisions about birth control. King rules that it was in DE’s best interests to undergo a vasectomy and said that the operation would give him back his independence.

Alison, who has advised other families in this situation, said:

“Mrs Justice Eleanor King has made a brave and welcome ruling under the Mental Capacity Act, which has considered the difficult ethical issues involved in making decision about the personal lives of people with learning difficulties.  The ruling has prioritised the needs of DE and his partner and will allow them to live as independently as possible, rather than imposing a regime of supervision and restriction on them”.

If you would like to speak to a member of Alison’s team please contact 020 7650 1241.

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