The sterilization of legal and mental incompetents is a legally risky endeavor
because of a strong societal policy against forcing or coercing individuals to be
sterilized. If a medical care practitioner or other person uses the threat of
withdrawal of federally funded services to coerce a person into agreeing to be
sterilized, he or she commits a federal crime and is subject to imprisonment.
The problem is that the courts tend to assume that coercion is involved
whenever a minor or incompetent is sterilized. When a sterilization is
otherwise medically and ethically indicated, [ACOG Committee Opinion 63.
Sterilization of Women Who Are Mentally Handicapped. September 1988] the
medical care practitioner should seek a court order approving the procedure.
Under no circumstances should a minor be sterilized without the approval of
the appropriate court in the state where the procedure is to take place.