Committee Approves Bill To Reform Old Sterilization Law
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 3, 2003
BOISE, IDAHO--Idaho's House Health and Welfare Committee unanimously approved a bill last week that would make sure people with developmental disabilities would not be sterilized without legal protection.
The bill would correct what Jim Baugh, executive director of Comprehensive Advocacy Inc., called a "six-year legal vacuum" left since a 1996 District Court case found the state's sterilization law unconstitutional. That court ruled the law did not provide equal access or due process to Idahoans with developmental disabilities as required under the U.S. Constitution.
Under the measure approved Monday, a person determined unable to give informed consent would be given legal counsel and a fair chance to understand the nature, risks and consequences of the procedure.
Before allowing a sterilization, the court would have to prove that the person understood the relationship between sex, pregnancy and parenthood; the responsibilities that come with being a parent; the permanent nature of sterilization; alternatives to sterilization; and the person's power to change one's mind at any time before the procedure.
"This is the only non-controversial bill you will ever hear that deals with human reproduction," Baugh told the Idaho Statesman.
The committee approved the bill without debate and sent it to House floor for a vote.
Comprehensive Advocacy, Inc.