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NEWS: Legal Guardian Sues to Sterilize 26 Year Old Niece Against Her Will

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posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 05:53 AM
Kirsten Johnson, a 26 year old disabled woman living in IL, doesn't want to have her tubes tied. On the other hand, her legal guardian, Vera Howse, claims her niece is neither mentally competent enough to have children, nor capable of taking birth control as prescribed. The judge in the case, James Riley, ruled that birth control was in Kirsten's best interest, regardless of her wishes, but he has yet to decide whether or not to allow the procedure to go ahead. Kirsten will be examined by a gynecologist to determine if another form of birth control can be used, besides sterilization. The report from the OBGYN isn't expected until January.

On Thursday, Probate Judge James Riley ruled that birth control was in Johnson's best interest but said he would hold off making a decision on Howse's "petition for tubal ligation."

Riley ordered Johnson to be examined by a gynecologist to determine whether she can use other long-term birth control methods, such as an intrauterine device. The gynecologist is to report in January.

Johnson "is unable to do most of the home chores," Riley wrote in a 12-page opinion. "She does not do any cooking. She cannot be left alone to operate a stove or microwave. She has a personal caregiver who comes into her home every day. ... Simply put, if Kirsten cannot care for herself, how can she care for a child?"

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Put on your tinfoil hats, and hold on to your butts! This is it folks, the first mainstream news report concerning sterilization of the mentally handicapped since Hitler wore a 'stache.

I can't believe the court would allow this to go ahead. Just because the woman is incapable of raising children doesn't mean she doesn't have the right to have them! For God's sake, that's inhuman, to sterilize someone against their wishes.

Granted, she probably can't care for a child, but I know plenty of supposedly 'qualified' parents who suck at it too, and end up getting their kids taken by DSS or DCFS. If this woman has a kid, she can't adopt it out like everyone else who can't take care of their kids? I think this is setting some very memorable (and DANGEROUS) precedent. Basically, if a judge doesn't think you deserve kids, you don't get to have them, simple as that. We're entering a very sketchy period of history here, and the creeping doom of state control over our personal lives is advancing steadily as nightfall. Like I said, hold on to your butts folks.

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 05:59 AM
There are various ways this can be handled without the drastic measure of tubal ligation.

They now have b.c. implants that last for months. If her aunt is so concerned about this issue she can commit herself to driving her niece to the doc every X months and getting a new implant.

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 06:08 AM
Right Val, that's exactly why I sense something more sinister about the story.

This is about eugenics, and building societal acceptance for state control over every aspect of our lives. I don't like the smell of it one bit.

Just recently there was the girl in state custody who was going to be forced to have an abortion.

It's situations like this that just churn my stomach, yaknow? The state's one and only job is to protect the citizens of the nation from threats, foreign and domestic. It's a referee to keep us from killing each other, and a bodyguard to keep us safe from foreign agressors.

That's IT! The state should not be a nanny, its 'help' is not needed.

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 06:14 AM
You know, the sick part about this is that there are people who would take advantage of a mentally handicapped girl like this one. Which begs the question: how is it that she is put into situations whereby she could be impregnated? Surely she's not capable of going shopping alone or anything.

Or does the guardian have other things on her mind?

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 06:28 AM
ok think of it differently.................

what if this girl is sexually active with another person that also is mentally challenged...........and both of them refuse to use birth control.

you have 2 individuals without the capacity to fully understand the responsibiltys of birth control but have the physical wants and desires of an adult.

so then what do you do?

when i worked in ob/gyn this exact same thing happened. julia was unable to comprehend birth control pills. her mother was deceased and her elderly father was her caretaker.

julia found her a fella and started engaging in "adult" activitys. she had the mind of a 7yr old...........the body of a 40yr old and the needs of a 40yr old.

we initially placed her on the norplant device. bc that is implanted under the skin and lasts for i think 2yrs (its been a while since i've dealt w/norplant and am not sure of the length of time it was effective)

julia ultimately ended up w/a hysterectomy due to cervical cancer.

i don't know that NORPLANT is still on the market here in the US......there were lots of problems with it..........

the original post says "the 26yr old doesn't want a tubal" ok......i can understand that...........

but i would like to know her level of she functional? meaning is she able to live on her on with assistance? or does she have the mind of a small child?

i just think there's lots more to this than we know
that is not a situation i would want to be in.


[edit on 12-8-2005 by amb1063]

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 06:33 AM
i tried to click on the link in the story and am unable to because the article is available to "registered members only"

i just feel based on what i've read in the original submission that there is too much information that we do NOT know to automatically scream.......ACCCKKKKK its big brother taking over...........

we have been presented with a very small piece of the puzzle in this very complex issue.............


posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 06:34 AM
I hadn't even considered that JSO...

I think the woman wants a regular sex life, that's the understanding I got from the article. It's not like she was born without a brain or anything, she just got in an accident that scrambled the egg, if you know what I mean. She has a basic understanding of pregnancy, and of the sterilization procedure, and she doesn't want it for herself.

I think that decision needs to be respected. Her guardian can deny her some things, but not this (IMO), because it's too fundamental a right. We don't allow the guardians of retarded folks to lock them in the basement, because that would be cruel. This is in the same vein, if you ask me.

I've had two friends suffer similar fates. One went from a 170+ IQ down to sub-50, I mean literally, in one year she went from AP classes to special ed because she decided to ride with a drunk driver. It was very sad in and of itself, the fact that I loved her didn't help. I decided against pursuing the relationship, because the main thing that attracted me to her in the first place was her intelligence. However, another man, a friend of mine who had always been smitten with her, started a relationship with the girl, and they lived happily ever after - I'm sure they'll have kids someday, if they don't have them already. Should she be sterilized because she lost her mind against an oak tree?

No..the accident was bad enough. Let these people live their lives, to the greatest degree of normalcy possible, that's my opinion.

Edit: amb - it works fine for me, and I'm not a member. I'll cut and paste the whole article just to be safe, but it may get removed by a mod, so read quick.

[edit on 12-8-2005 by WyrdeOne]

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 06:38 AM
From the source link:

By Michael J. Higgins
Tribune staff reporter
Published August 12, 2005

In an unusual and emotionally charged legal case, a 26-year-old mentally disabled woman on Thursday staved off--at least for now--her guardian's legal bid to force her to be sterilized against her will.

Kirsten Johnson of Matteson, who requires help with such basic tasks as preparing meals, said in a deposition that she would like to be a mother someday and didn't want a tubal ligation, which she said, "Ties your ovaries so the eggs can't get hatched."

But Johnson's aunt and legal guardian, Vera Howse, argues that her niece can't handle the responsibilities of pregnancy or parenthood.

Johnson, whose brain was damaged in a childhood accident, has agreed to use birth control. But she isn't capable of taking pills properly, Howse contends, and had a bad reaction to a long-term form of birth control, Depo-Provera injections.

Howse and Johnson, who is represented by an advocacy group for the disabled, presented witnesses and arguments over several days of hearings in June and July in Cook County Probate Court.

On Thursday, Probate Judge James Riley ruled that birth control was in Johnson's best interest but said he would hold off making a decision on Howse's "petition for tubal ligation."

Riley ordered Johnson to be examined by a gynecologist to determine whether she can use other long-term birth control methods, such as an intrauterine device. The gynecologist is to report in January.

Johnson "is unable to do most of the home chores," Riley wrote in a 12-page opinion. "She does not do any cooking. She cannot be left alone to operate a stove or microwave. She has a personal caregiver who comes into her home every day. ... Simply put, if Kirsten cannot care for herself, how can she care for a child?"

The case shines a light on a largely hidden issue between adults with disabilities and their guardians. Many adults not legally competent to handle their own affairs are still sexually active. So their guardians may try to counsel them on birth control or suggest a sterilization procedure, experts said.

But seeking an involuntary sterilization in court is highly unusual, according to experts. Around the country, no one knows how often such cases arise, but it is rare to see it litigated in court.

No published legal opinions in Illinois directly address the issue.

Disability rights advocates generally oppose the idea, except where an incompetent person faces a serious health threat.

"Our position is that we're dealing with a fundamental right," said Byron Mason, attorney for Equip for Equality, the group that represented Johnson.

"Regardless of whether a person has a disability, a person has a right to make certain fundamental decisions about their own body."

Howse's attorney, Lester Barclay of Chicago, said Thursday that those discussions of principle ignore the practical consequences should Johnson become pregnant.

Johnson would probably have to go off her psychiatric medications during pregnancy and could become ill as a result, Barclay argued. He said child welfare officials might take the child from her, which would be tragic and painful for her.

"This lawsuit was not about placing any restrictions on Kirsten," Barclay said. "It was only about looking at her desire to be free and recognizing her desire to engage in sexual conduct. ... This is why we appoint guardians."

Kirsten Johnson was born in 1978, and her early life was a poignant mix of misfortune and resilience. Her parents divorced when she was 4, and she grew up with her mother, Barbara Johnson. When she was 7, she was hit by a car and suffered brain injuries.

In 1990, Johnson's family settled a personal injury lawsuit, which included a $750,000 lump sum and an annuity expected to pay Johnson $4.5 million to $14.4 million over her lifetime, court records show.

Just a few years later, Barbara Johnson was diagnosed with cancer. As she became more ill, the family moved in with Howse, a receptionist at a law firm, at her home in Matteson. Kirsten Johnson went to high school, attending a special-needs program.

That's part 1.

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 06:39 AM
Part 2 from the source link:

Barbara Johnson died in 1995, and a judge appointed Howse as the young woman's guardian. A separate guardian handles Johnson's money, which can be spent only with court approval.

As an adult, Johnson attended workshops and other programs with men who have similar disabilities. She became sexually active, both sides agree.

Johnson began using Depo-Provera for birth control.

But in 2002, a doctor became concerned that she had gained 68 pounds and apparently suffered high blood pressure, hair loss and nosebleeds from the drug.

In 2003, Howse filed the petition in Probate Court. Equip for Equality found out about the situation when Johnson called the group with questions about whether they could help her get married to a man she was dating, Mason said.

Johnson told Equip for Equality officials she did not want the procedure done and repeated that claim in a deposition she gave in April.

Johnson said she would like to have children "because just like my mother had took her time taking care of me, I would love to have the opportunity to take my time taking care of a baby."

In Illinois, two state agencies--the Cook County Public Guardian and the Office of State Guardian--care for more than 5,000 wards.

Officials in both agencies said they knew of no cases where they sought involuntary sterilization.

"We always do a lot more before we would think about such an extreme or irreversible procedure," said Charles Golbert, a supervisor in the adult guardianship division at the Cook County Public Guardian.

State Guardian officials said that on rare occasions--perhaps once every five years--they sought court approval to sterilize a person in its care who wanted the procedure done.

No specific law governs sterilization. But under general probate law standards, courts look at what wards would decide for themselves if they were competent.

They also ask whether a procedure would be in the ward's best interest.

The hearing before Judge Riley was closed to the public. But briefs filed in court show a battle of medical experts.

One of Johnson's witnesses, Dr. Cassing Hammond of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said in a deposition that the proposed forced sterilization was so wrong that he believed his hospital would forbid it being performed there.

But some doctors testified for Howse, agreeing that Johnson didn't understand the consequences of her decision.

At the hearing, Johnson showed herself to be easily influenced, Riley wrote in his opinion. She opposed the tubal ligation while on the witness stand, but in a meeting with Riley in chambers was "extremely suggestible and anxious to please" and said the opposite, he said.

Riley went on to rule that Johnson didn't have the capacity to decide the issue for herself.

But the judge also emphasized that whatever decision he makes should not be confused with practices of many decades ago, when some state governments sterilized people with mental disabilitiesto prevent the birth of "a defective child."

"Only Kirsten Johnson's best interest was at issue here," Riley wrote.

Sorry for the HUGE quote, but I really want people to be able to read the whole article - this is an important issue. If a mod has to cut it down, so be it.

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 01:38 PM
This is another example of the law becoming more Nazi-like. I agree she would need some for of birth control. Options include Depo inj, Norplant, Mirena coil etc. To get a permanent procedure imposed on is inhumane.

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 01:42 PM

Last I checked the American Government was doing forced sterelization through till the 1970's. It's nothing "new". There are still thousands of people alive, because of their race who had this done to them.

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 02:42 PM
No doubt. But, check out the first lines of my earlier comment.

Put on your tinfoil hats, and hold on to your butts! This is it folks, the first mainstream news report concerning sterilization of the mentally handicapped since Hitler wore a 'stache.

This is the first time the mainstream media has raised this issue in a favorable light in America since the Nazis were in power in Germany, and the American Nazi party was quite popular here. The whole race hygeine thing was trendy to some people back in the day.

We had a short period where it still went on, but it wasn't talked about.

It struck me as odd how these stories keep breaking like waves on the beach, one after the other after the other. Guess who the sand represents?

Eroding every day...

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 04:54 PM
Lets let her have as many kids as she wants...
since she DOESN"T understand birth control, and CANT take care of herself, (both statements by the guardian, and supported by the doctors)

obviously SHE can't take care of children, so the STATE would be the guardian for any future kids, and they just get tacked onto the same invoice that we all pay for every year in the form of taxes...

and of course the state always does such a great job of raising children (with much love and care) the children are sure to end up as doctors or some other boon to society and wouldn't ever have emotional problems or mental problems with being raised by a "children are numbers" government creche...

surely they wouldn't be abused by "pay a day" foster parents that were out for the money... or brainwashed by ultra religious parents into being a christian terrorist...

yeah, these are extreme worries.. to bad they are so common...
i know several people that were put in foster or state care, and NONE were good situations... (some never got out)
were they better never born?... some would say yes...

is it our responsibility to pay for this girls uncared for children?
I didn't have a bit of fun having that baby, so I say NO!

In closing, I am sure that there are some good foster parents, and thank god for them... but it isn't and should never be someone elses responsibility to raise kids...

If you can't care for them, THEN DON"T HAVE THEM PLEASE...
parents... ought to need a license...

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 05:00 PM
another example how disabled are treated as "things" with no rights, a doctor says this so hes right? pfft.....

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 05:15 PM
This is frightening actually, and my tinfoil hat has been on for a while so to speak. I particularly liked this part-
"But the judge also emphasized that whatever decision he makes should not be confused with practices of many decades ago, when some state governments sterilized people with mental disabilitiesto prevent the birth of "a defective child."

No this time it's really it is...seriously.

I think this must have something to do with her settlement, after all if she has no heirs then I am sure her "guardian" will probably be benefactor yeah? I mean no matter how disabled this girl is, it sounds like she could hire any number of professionals to properly care for a child if she chose to do so..

Whatever the case this story stinks for a variety of reasons. I do agree though that the fact that this is being addressed by the media is a dangerous sign indeed.

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 06:50 PM

Originally posted by phoenixhasrisin
No this time it's really it is...seriously.

Yah, I don't see any similarity there either?!?!? :puzz:
I mean how can you even compare the two??? On one hand you have forced sterilization of Disabled Persons and on the other you have forced sterilization of Disabled Persons. Talk about apples and oranges!!!

Seriously though, this is one of those situations where you can't just slap down some law with a broad range of interpretation. This is a case that is so dangerously twisted in "Double Standard" pitfalls that it's going to require some creative methods to solve it.

I'm definately not keen on any Government Forced Sterilization BS, that's for sure!!! But we have a problem. One that's been around since civilization started and that's never been solved yet. Liberty vs. Security or Freedom vs. Safety. This woman's Freedom conflicts with her childs Safety, should she actually have one that is and if no outside source steps in.

I find it ironic that so many people will argue so strongly for this woman's right to have a child when it's known that without help neither her nor the child would live more than a week. Yet at the same time I don't see the same strong uprising over the fact that thousands of Adoptions are rejected daily to fully capable people simply because they're not the "Right" Race, Color, Sexual Orientation, Religion, Marital Status, etc. "Sure, the Mentally & Physically Handicaped lady can have kids, but if you're a mixed race couple, single, gay, or Non-Catholic looking to be a foster parent you're out of luck."

One way to solve it would be to just let her have a kid. Then allow about a week to go by and you'll be left with one of two results. She'll either have figured out how to care for her kid and herself or they will both be dead and rotting in the house somewhere. Then we can broadcast that all over the media for everyone to see and argue about who was right and who was wrong. I admit it's kind of a rash way to deal with it, but I don't find it any worse than the Lawfull Manditory Sterilization of the Populous by it's own Mismanaged Hipocritical Government, do you???

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 07:22 PM

If a person has the emotional and mental capacity of a child - then s/he is generally considered a vulnerable adult, correct? And as such, does not inherently have the right to decide his/her medical decisions, as per the rights of a child, correct?

(This is one reason why legal guardians are appointed).

If this is the case, then as distasteful as it appears, that legal guardian assumes the right to make decisions with regards to that person's medical wellbeing.

Just because the woman is incapable of raising children doesn't mean she doesn't have the right to have them! For God's sake, that's inhuman, to sterilize someone against their wishes

Actually, that's not as black and white as it might seem; simply because she cannot give informed consent to sex (being that she cannot fully understand the ramifications therein), then there might just be the assumption that she therefore cannot speak for herself in any related matter. A 9 year old child can sometimes biologically conceive, and give birth - yet we'd fight any which way we can to avoid that situation, correct?

This situation is not so dissimilar; it remains to be seen which other options are being explored and/or would be appropriate....surgical sterilisation does seem to be extreme when there are contraceptive injections and implants available.

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 07:39 PM
I am so opposed to the government doing any such thing. We are supposed to be living in a free country; but I guess somewhere along the way that's been forgotten. I hate how slowly the government keeps usurping our rights and freedoms, by saying that it knows whats best. Well guess what, it doesn't! I am so sick of it when people use that excuse. While I don't think that she should have children, becuase if she can't take care of herself then how can she possibly raise children to adulthood? That doesn't mean, however, that I want the government to step in and make that kind of decision. If they start there, where do they end? At what juncture will the government go too far? If people are okay with this where is the line in the sand? It just keeps moving farther and farther away....

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 07:46 PM
It's not a nice situation at all, and I do see your point (and the same point posted by others)...


We regularly (as a nation/government) step in to protect the rights of certain individuals if those rights are endangered.

If the woman in question honestly cannot make those decisions for herself - then yes, somebody (her guardian, or if she's a ward of the state, it would be the State, yes?) needs to be making those decisions on her behalf.

We already do this.

I'm actually an example of precocious puberty; by the time I was 10, I had a fully physically developed body and was menstruating regularly. My mother put me on the pill to prevent pregnancy for this reason.

The only difference is, I would obviously grow in terms of emotional maturity and emotional intelligence - in other words, I'd eventually be able to make those decisions for myself.

The woman in this case cannot make those decisions for herself, if she cannot fully understand the consequences; furthermore her mental state will not change much (if at all) in the future. This is as "mature" as she gets.

The whole situation is emotionally charged, but I can't help but - for the timebeing at least - err on the side of caution and at least go along with agreeing to some kind of contraceptive intervention on her behalf.

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 08:06 PM
She cannot care for herself. She will never be able to care for herself. She is sexually active. Her Aunt, who is her legal guardian, obviously does not want to raise her children. Children had because she is unable to understand how to take birth control

She cannot take depo due to medical reasons. Norplant would not be any better. She can't take pills. Maybe an IUD would be the answer, but if it isn't, than really, sterilization is the best thing in this case.

I feel for the Aunt. You can't be too bad if you are caring for an adult niece. Not everyone would. She isn't seeking to restrain her beyond keeping her from having a baby. That isn't inhumane or nazi-ish, it is responsible!!!

When she is 36, she STILL will not be able to live independently and still be unable to care for a child. At 46, it will be the same. Having children is NOT a right. Just because you can physically reproduce, doesn't mean you should. Minimum requirements are: Being able to feed and clothe the child both physically and financially. Being able to keep the child from harm from others and itself.

She could not meet either of those very basic requirements. It would be an unfortunate thing to bring a child in to the world, whose mother would have to give it up immediately. She might be able to love it, but she would not be able to care for it in any way. Loving something isn't enough. You can love something yet abuse it with neglect.

The aunt is the guardian and is making a decision in not only her best interest, but her neices

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