London: A British court has ruled for the first time that a man who lacked the capacity to give informed consent should have a vasectomy because it is in his "best interests."
The 36-year-old man, known only as DE, has an IQ of 40, lives with his parents and has a long-term girlfriend who also has severe learning disabilities. In 2009, DE's girlfriend became pregnant and had a child. According to Friday's court ruling, DE insisted he did not want any more children.
His doctors and parents applied to the court for the vasectomy since DE doesn't have the mental capacity to understand the procedure and its implications. The judge ruled that it is "overwhelmingly in DE's best interests" to have a vasectomy.
Experts said DE was able to consent to a sexual relationship and that a vasectomy would give him a measure of independence. Attempts to teach DE how to use condoms failed.
Britain's Court of Protection regularly makes decisions for people lacking mental capacity and has previously ordered women sterilized, but this is the first time a vasectomy has been authorized on the grounds that it is in the man's best interests. It will still be up to the man's doctors to decide if the procedure should go ahead.