2005 California Probate Code Sections 1950-1969 CHAPTER 6. STERILIZATIONPROBATE CODE
1950. The Legislature recognizes that the right to exercise choice over matters of procreation is fundamental and may not be denied to an individual on the basis of disability. This chapter is enacted for the benefit of those persons with developmental disabilities who, despite those disabilities, are capable of engaging in sexual activity yet who, because of those disabilities, are unable to give the informed, voluntary consent necessary to their fully exercising the right to procreative choice, which includes the right to choose sterilization. However, the Legislature further recognizes that the power to sterilize is subject to abuse and, historically, has been abused. It is the intent of the Legislature that no individual shall be sterilized solely by reason of a developmental disability and that no individual who knowingly opposes sterilization be sterilized involuntarily. It is further the intent of the Legislature that this chapter shall be applied in accord with the overall intent of Division 4.5 (commencing with Section 4500) of the Welfare and Institutions Code that persons with developmental disabilities be provided with those services needed to enable them to live more normal, independent, and productive lives, including assistance and training that might obviate the need for sterilization. 1951. (a) No person who has the ability to consent to his or her sterilization shall be sterilized pursuant to this chapter. (b) For the purposes of this chapter, the following terms have the meanings given: (1) "Consent to sterilization" means making a voluntary decision to undergo sterilization after being fully informed about, and after fully understanding the nature and consequences of, sterilization. (2) "Voluntary" means performed while competent to make the decision, and as a matter of free choice and will and not in response to coercion, duress, or undue influence. (3) "Fully understanding the nature and consequences of sterilization," includes, but is not limited to, the ability to understand each of the following: (A) That the individual is free to withhold or withdraw consent to the procedure at any time before the sterilization without affecting the right to future care or treatment and without loss or withdrawal of any publicly funded program benefits to which the individual might be otherwise entitled. (B) Available alternative methods of family planning and birth control. (C) That the sterilization procedure is considered to be irreversible. (D) The specific sterilization procedure to be performed. (E) The discomforts and risks that may accompany or follow the performing of the procedure, including an explanation of the type and possible effects of any anesthetic to be used. (F) The benefits or advantages that may be expected as a result of the sterilization. (G) The approximate length of the hospital stay. (H) The approximate length of time for recovery. (c) The court shall appoint a facilitator or interpreter if such a person's assistance would enable the person named in the petition to understand any of these factors. 1952. The conservator of an adult, or any person authorized to file a petition for the appointment of a conservator under paragraphs (2) to (5), inclusive, of subdivision (a) of Section 1820, may file a petition under this chapter for appointment of a limited conservator authorized to consent to the sterilization of an adult with a developmental disability. The content of the petition under this chapter shall conform to the provisions of Section 1821 and in addition allege that the person for whom sterilization is proposed has a developmental disability as defined in Section 1420 and shall allege specific reasons why court-authorized sterilization is deemed necessary. A petition under this chapter shall be considered separately from any contemporaneous petition for appointment of a conservator under this division. 1953. At least 90 days before the hearing on the petition under this chapter, notice of the time and place of the hearing and a copy of the petition shall be served on the person named in the petition and, if the petitioner is not the conservator of the person, on the conservator, if any. Service shall be made in the manner provided in Section 415.10 or Section 415.30 of the Code of Civil Procedure or in such manner as may be authorized by the court. 1954. In any proceeding under this chapter, if the person named in the petition for court authorization to consent to sterilization has not retained legal counsel and does not plan to retain legal counsel, the court shall immediately appoint the public defender or private counsel to represent the individual for whom sterilization is proposed. Counsel shall undertake the representation with the presumption that the individual opposes the petition. 1954.5. (a) The court shall appoint a facilitator for the person named in the petition, who shall assist the person named in the petition to do all of the following: (1) Understand the nature of the proceedings. (2) Understand the evaluation process required by Section 1955. (3) Communicate his or her views. (4) Participate as fully as possible in the proceedings. (b) All of the following factors shall be considered by the court in appointing a facilitator: (1) The preference of the person named in the petition. (2) The proposed facilitator's personal knowledge of the person named in the petition. (3) The proposed facilitator's ability to communicate with the person named in the petition, when that person is nonverbal, has limited verbal skills, or relies on alternative modes of communication. (4) The proposed facilitator's knowledge of the developmental disabilities service system. (c) The petitioner may not be appointed as the facilitator. 1955. (a) The court shall request the director of the appropriate regional center for the developmentally disabled to coordinate an investigation and prepare and file a written report thereon. The appropriate regional center for purposes of this section is (1) the regional center of which the person named in the petition is a client, (2) if the individual named in the petition is not a client of any regional center, the regional center responsible for the area in which the individual is then living, or (3) such other regional center as may be in the best interests of the individual. The report shall be based upon comprehensive medical, psychological, and sociosexual evaluations of the individual conducted pursuant to subdivisions (b) and (c), and shall address, but shall not be limited to, each of the factors listed in Section 1958. A copy of the report shall be provided to each of the parties at least 15 days prior to the hearing. (b) Prior to the hearing on the issue of sterilization, the person who is proposed to be sterilized shall be personally examined by two physicians, one of whom shall be a surgeon competent to perform the procedure, and one psychologist or clinical social worker, each of whom has been mutually agreed to by the petitioner and counsel for the person named in the petition or, if agreement is not reached, appointed by the court from a panel of qualified professionals. At the request of counsel for the person named in the petition, the court shall appoint one additional psychologist, clinical social worker, or physician named by counsel. Any psychologist or clinical social worker and, to the extent feasible, any physicians conducting an examination shall have had experience with persons who have developmental disabilities. To the extent feasible, each of the examiners shall also have knowledge and experience relating to sociosexual skills and behavior. The examinations shall be at county expense subject to Section 1963. (c) The examiners shall consider all available alternatives to sterilization and shall recommend sterilization only if no suitable alternative is available. Each examiner shall prepare a written, comprehensive report containing all relevant aspects of the person's medical, psychological, family, and sociosexual conditions. Each examiner shall address those factors specified in Section 1958 related to his or her particular area of expertise. In considering the factors in subdivision (a) of, and paragraph (1) of subdivision (d) of, Section 1958, each examiner shall include information regarding the intensity, extent, and recentness of the person's education and training, if any, regarding human sexuality, including birth control methods and parenting skills, and in addition, shall consider whether the individual would benefit from training provided by persons competent in education and training of persons with comparable intellectual impairments. If an examiner recommends against sterilization, the examiner shall set forth in his or her report available alternatives, including, as warranted, recommendations for sex education, parent training, or training in the use of alternative methods of contraception. Copies of each report shall be furnished at least 30 days prior to the hearing on the petition to the person or persons who filed the petition, the conservator, if any, and counsel for the person proposed to be sterilized, the regional center responsible for the investigation and report required under this section, and such other persons as the court may direct. The court may receive these reports in evidence. (d) The contents of the reports prepared pursuant to this section shall be confidential. Upon judgment in the action or the proceeding becoming final, the court shall order the contents of the reports sealed. (e) Regional centers for the developmentally disabled shall compile and maintain lists of persons competent to perform the examinations required by this section. These lists shall be provided to the court. If the person named in the petition resides at a state hospital or other residential care facility, no person conducting an examination pursuant to subdivision (b) shall be an employee of the facility. (f) Any party to the proceedings has the right to submit additional reports from qualified experts. (g) Any person who has written a report received in evidence may be subpoenaed and questioned by any party to the proceedings or by the court and when so called is subject to all rules of evidence including those of legal objections as to the qualification of expert witnesses. (h) No regional center or person acting in his or her capacity as a regional center employee may file a petition under Section 1952. 1956. The person to whom the petition applies shall be present at the hearing except for reason of medical inability. Emotional or psychological instability is not good cause for the absence of the proposed conservatee from the hearing unless, by reason of the instability, attendance at the hearing is likely to cause serious and immediate physiological damage to the proposed conservatee. 1957. To the greatest extent possible, the court shall elicit and take into account the views of the individual for whom sterilization is proposed in determining whether sterilization is to be authorized. 1958. The court may authorize the conservator of a person proposed to be sterilized to consent to the sterilization of that person only if the court finds that the petitioner has established all of the following beyond a reasonable doubt: (a) The person named in the petition is incapable of giving consent to sterilization, as defined in Section 1951, and the incapacity is in all likelihood permanent. (b) Based on reasonable medical evidence, the individual is fertile and capable of procreation. (c) The individual is capable of engaging in, and is likely to engage in sexual activity at the present or in the near future under circumstances likely to result in pregnancy. (d) Either of the following: (1) The nature and extent of the individual's disability as determined by empirical evidence and not solely on the basis of any standardized test, renders him or her permanently incapable of caring for a child, even with appropriate training and reasonable assistance. (2) Due to a medical condition, pregnancy or childbirth would pose a substantially elevated risk to the life of the individual to such a degree that, in the absence of other appropriate methods of contraception, sterilization would be deemed medically necessary for an otherwise nondisabled woman under similar circumstances. (e) All less invasive contraceptive methods including supervision are unworkable even with training and assistance, inapplicable, or medically contraindicated. Isolation and segregation shall not be considered as less invasive means of contraception. (f) The proposed method of sterilization entails the least invasion of the body of the individual. (g) The current state of scientific and medical knowledge does not suggest either (1) that a reversible sterilization procedure or other less drastic contraceptive method will shortly be available, or (2) that science is on the threshold of an advance in the treatment of the individual's disability. (h) The person named in the petition has not made a knowing objection to his or her sterilization. For purposes of this subdivision, an individual may be found to have knowingly objected to his or her sterilization notwithstanding his or her inability to give consent to sterilization as defined in Section 1951. In the case of persons who are nonverbal, have limited verbal ability to communicate, or who rely on alternative modes of communication, the court shall ensure that adequate effort has been made to elicit the actual views of the individual by the facilitator appointed pursuant to Section 1954.5, or by any other person with experience in communicating with developmentally disabled persons who communicate using similar means. 1959. The fact that, due to the nature or severity of his or her disability, a person for whom an authorization to consent to sterilization is sought may be vulnerable to sexual conduct by others that would be deemed unlawful, shall not be considered by the court in determining whether sterilization is to be authorized under this chapter. 1960. If the person named in the petition already has a conservator, the court may authorize that person to consent to sterilization or may appoint another person as limited conservator under the provisions of this chapter. The court shall ensure that the person or agency designated as conservator under this chapter is capable of adequately representing and safeguarding the interests of the conservatee. 1961. A sterilization procedure authorized under this chapter shall not include hysterectomy or castration. However, if the report prepared under Section 1955 indicates that hysterectomy or castration is a medically necessary treatment, regardless of the need for sterilization, the court shall proceed pursuant to Section 2357. 1962. (a) Any court order granting a petition under this chapter shall be accompanied by a written statement of decision pursuant to Section 632 of the Code of Civil Procedure detailing the factual and legal bases for the court's determination on each of the findings required under Section 1958. (b) When a judgment authorizing the conservator of a person to consent to the sterilization is rendered, an appeal is automatically taken by the person proposed to be sterilized without any action by that person, or by his or her counsel. The Judicial Council shall provide by rule for notice of and procedure for the appeal. The appeal shall have precedence over other cases in the court in which the appeal is pending. 1963. (a) At the conclusion of the hearing, the court, after inquiring into financial ability, may make an order based upon their ability that any one or more of the following persons pay court costs and fees in whole or in part as in the opinion of the court is proper and in any installments and manner which is both reasonable and compatible with ability to pay: (1) The person to whom the petition applies. (2) The petitioner. (3) Any person liable for the support and maintenance of the person to whom the petition applies. (b) An order under subdivision (a) may be enforced in the same manner as a money judgment. (c) For the purposes of this section, court costs and fees include the costs of any examination or investigation ordered by the court, expert witnesses' fees, and the costs and fees of the court-appointed public defender or private counsel representing the person to whom the petition applies. (d) Any fees and costs not ordered to be paid by persons under subdivision (a) are a charge against and paid out of the treasury of the county on order of the court. 1964. An order of the court authorizing a conservator to consent to sterilization which is upheld on appeal automatically expires in one year from the final determination on appeal unless earlier terminated by the court. A conservatorship established for the sole purpose of authorizing a conservator to consent to sterilization under this chapter shall automatically terminate upon completion of the sterilization procedure or upon expiration of the court's order authorizing the conservator to consent to sterilization, whichever occurs first. If, upon the expiration of the court's order under this chapter, the person named as conservator determines that the conservatorship is still required for the purpose of this chapter, he or she may petition the court for reappointment as conservator for a succeeding six-month period upon a showing of good cause as to why any sterilization authorized by the court has not been completed. 1965. Any court order made pursuant to this chapter granting authority to consent to sterilization shall be stayed pending a final determination on appeal. 1966. After the filing of a first petition for sterilization pursuant to this chapter and a determination by the court that any one or more of the conditions required in Section 1958 has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and that therefore authorization for the proposed sterilization should not be given by the court, a subsequent petition may be filed only on the showing of a material change in circumstances. 1967. (a) The sterilization of a person in accordance with this chapter does not render the petitioner or any person participating in the conservatorship proceedings or sterilization liable, either civilly or criminally, except for any injury caused by negligent or willful misconduct in the performance of the sterilization. (b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (a), any individual who petitions for authorization to consent to sterilization knowing that the person to whom the petition relates is capable of giving consent to sterilization as defined in Section 1951 is guilty of a misdemeanor, and may be civilly liable to the person concerning whom sterilization was sought. 1968. This chapter does not prohibit medical treatment or surgery required for other medical reasons and in which sterilization is an unavoidable or medically probable consequence, but is not the object of the treatment or surgery. 1969. Nothing in this chapter shall infringe on the right of persons with developmental disabilities who are capable of giving consent to sterilization to give that consent without the necessity of a court order or substitute decisionmaker.
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