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UK court permits vascetomy for man incapable of consent

The UK Court of Protection [official website] ruled Friday that a man with learning disabilities who does not possess the capacity to provide informed consent should have a vasectomy because it is in his "best interests." The man, known as DE, has already fathered one child with his girlfriend and the child is now cared for by DE's maternal grandmother. Mrs. Justice Eleanor King of the Court of Protection emphasized that a vasectomy is in DE's best interests [AP report] because the alternative of fatherhood would cause DE significant psychological harm. The Official Solicitor emphasized that the case is not intended to inspire others to pursue for vasectomies for individuals with learning disabilities. This is the first ruling of its kind In the only other known British case involving male sterilization, the Court of Protection ruled that a vasectomy was not in the best medical and emotional interests of the individual in question.

Governments worldwide have struggled in recent years with the issue of advantages born out of sterilization versus individual liberties. In April the UN urged [JURIST report] EU member states to do more to ensure that Roma peoples, some of whom have been subjected to forced sterilization, receive the support necessary to fully enjoy all their basic human rights. In July 2012 a court in Namibia ruled [JURIST report] that the government sterilized three HIV-positive women without obtaining appropriate consent. In November of 2005 the Japanese Health and Welfare Ministry announced it planned to appeal [JURIST report] a court ruling requiring the nation to pay compensation to former Taiwanese leprosy patients who were incarcerated during Japanese colonial rule, between 1916 and 1945, and subject to forced sterilization.

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