Kemp Klein

The Right of Procreation Called Into Question

For those who have taken on guardianship responsibilities for a mentally or physically incapacitated individual, it’s difficult to decide how far to go to protect them. One seemingly unusual, but growing question is whether a guardian can seek sterilization for the “ward” to prevent him or her from becoming a parent.

In 1993, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan concluded that the right of procreation is a right which is protected by the due process and equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution. Therefore, as a matter of federal law, a full evidentiary hearing is required before a guardian can consent to sterilization. This applies to individuals who have been determined to be legally incapacitated under the Estates and Protected Individuals Code, and those with developmental disabilities under the Mental Health Code.

For cases addressing this issue, see Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service v Kirdendall, 841 F Supp 796 (1993) and Wirsing v Michigan Protection and Advocacy Service, 456 Mich 467 (1998).

For further information regarding these matters, please contact Kemp Klein.