Developmental Services - Case Management Manual

Sterilization

In 1982 the Legislature passed a law entitled "Due Process in Sterilization Act of 1982". See 34 B MRSA Subsections 7001-7016. The Legislature, recognizing the irreversible nature of sterilization, intended "to prevent discrimination and unnecessary sterilization, and to assure equal access to desired medical procedures for all Maine citizens.

The law currently requires that the person requesting sterilization give to a physician their "informed consent". Informed consent is based on an actual understanding of the nature and consequences of sterilization, its risks, and benefits, and an understanding of the alternative methods of contraception. There must be neither expressed nor implied coercion in giving such consent. A due process hearing in Maine District Court is necessary to determine a person's ability to give informed consent, if the person is under 18 years of age and not married, or a resident of a state institution providing their care, or under public or private guardianship, or someone from whom the physician could not obtain informed consent.

Finally, if there is any chance that sterilization may be seriously pursued, the case must be discussed with (at a minimum) the Developmental Services Program Administrator and an AAG. Case Managers should not become involved in explaining legal requirements to parents, persons, or guardians. Sterilization requests should be referred to the person's guardian. If the guardian is the one requesting information on a ward's sterilization, the CM should recommend that the guardian discuss the matter with an attorney. Sterilization of a person is a legal matter and can only be resolved by the courts.