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High Court Approves Sterilization Of 14-Year-Old Girl
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
April 1, 2003

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA--Doctors will be allowed to perform a hysterectomy on a 14-year-old girl with Down syndrome even though the procedure goes against the Sterilization Act and the recommendations of a provincial sterilization panel.

The Cape High Court on Tuesday gave permission for the procedure following pressure from the girls' mother. She had requested the hysterectomy claiming her daughter experienced "psychological and physical distress" during menstruation, and that there was no other "safe" form of birth control.

The Sterilization Act does not allow for children and teenagers with disabilities under age 18 to be sterilized unless their physical health is at risk.

According to the News24.com news service, the Western Cape Department of Health did not oppose the mother's application for an exception to the law.

Department spokesperson Vernon de Vries said the case shows the law needs to be made more clear, especially when it comes to hysterectomies.

"It is sincerely hoped that Tuesday's court order on behalf of (the mother) will expedite such review and amendment of the Act by the National Law Advisors," De Vries said.

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