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Heightened Standard of Proof is Required for Authorization of Medical Procedures that Impacts Fundamental Rights

A petition to authorize medical procedures that has the incidental effect of sterilization requires a clear and convincing evidence standard to protect an individual's right to procreative choice. The California Court of Appeal, however, clarified that this is the exception rather than the norm and only pertains to medical procedures that impact a fundamental right. This was the ruling issued on the Conservatorship of the person and estate of Maria B.

Maria B. (objector and appellant) is a 25 year-old developmentally disabled adult who suffers from numerous health problems, including an abnormally long and heavy menses and migraine headaches that appear to coincide with the onset of her menses. Maria's migraine headaches are debilitating and requires numerous emergency room visits and hospitalizations. Maria began seeing a neurologist who prescribed medications, however, the treatments did not provide any significant relief from her migraines. Maria was then referred to Dr. Robert Borrowdale, an obstetrician and gynecologist, who began treating her by providing Maria with control pills to regulate her hormone levels and control her menses. Other procedures were also performed but they all failed to curb Maria's excessive bleeding and severe migraines. After trying out all the less intrusive treatments, Dr. Borrowdale recommended that Maria undergo a total hysterectomy and oophorectomy. Maria agreed to the procedures. In July 2012, Denise B. (conservator, petitioner, respondent and mother of Maria B.) petitioned the trial court for an order authorizing her, as Maria's conservator, to consent to a hysterectomy and oophorectomy on Maria's behalf. Denise brought the petition under Probate Code section 2357, which governs court ordered medical treatment.

Stay tuned for more on this topic on our subsequent blog.

*This blog entry was not written by an Attorney and should not be construed as professional legal advice.