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Passage of Illinois House Bill 2290 Adds Crucial Due Process Protection Governing Sterilization of Adults With Disabilities
Date:5/18/2009

m, the young woman, who had a traumatic brain injury as a result of a car accident at age eight, had made it clear she did not want to be sterilized.

"The legislation is very significant because before 2008, Illinois guardians and doctors could choose involuntary sterilization behind closed doors," said Katie Watson, Assistant Professor in the Medical Humanities & Bioethics Program at Northwestern University who worked with Equip for Equality on HB 2290. "This legislation codifies many principles from the appellate court decision, such as guaranteeing men and women with disabilities a court hearing. That moves the decision into the light and keeps the focus on their interests."

"Sterilization is an extreme, irreversible measure. It impacts an individual's constitutional rights to procreation and privacy," said Marsha Koelliker, Equip for Equality's Public Policy Director. "Under the legislation, only a court may impose such a result on an adult ward with a disability, and, when a ward lacks capacity, only following a hearing on the merits in which the ward is afforded full due process protection."

Among other things, HB 2290 amends the Illinois Probate Act by requiring:

  • A guardian seeking to sterilize an adult ward to file a motion requesting the court's authority to consent to such a procedure;
  • Appointment of a guardian ad litem;
  • A medical and psychological evaluation of the ward;
  • A determination by the court of the ward's capacity to consent or withhold consent to the proposed sterilization; and
  • A court order that includes written findings of fact and conclusions of law.

Representative Kathleen A. Ryg introduced HB 2290 and was Chief Co-Sponsor in the House, along with Representatives JoAnn D. Osmond, Barbara Flynn Currie, Lou Lang and Sidney H. Mathis.
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SOURCE Equip for Equality
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