Our country has a long and shameful history of allowing the involuntary sterilization of people with disabilities, depriving them of their rights to privacy and bodily integrity, and to make their own decisions about whether or not to become a parent. A majority of states have enacted legislation to provide protections for people in guardianship relationships. Illinois needs to join that group. For that reason, we're supporting House Bill 2290.

Under current law, a guardian of an adult with disabilities can have the ward sterilized without any court oversight and without any independent representation of the ward's best interests. The Illinois Probate Act of 1975, which governs guardianship of adult wards, does not require a guardian to seek the Probate Court's consent to such a procedure, despite the availability of less permanent birth control alternatives.

HB 2290 will require guardians to go to court first, creating a mechanism for a judge to step in and determine whether the ward agrees to the procedure and whether it is in his or her best interest. This hearing will give a ward a voice in the medical decision that affects him or her.

Under the procedure outlined in HB 2290, if the court determines that the ward is capable of making this decision for him or herself (as many people with disabilities are), the court must enter an order in accordance with the ward's decision. If the court finds the ward lacks that capacity, the court must make a determination, based on specific factors, of what is in the ward's best interest.

For some people, a vasectomy or tubal ligation is the right decision - millions of people with and without disabilities make the decision to have these procedures every year after concluding that a less permanent form of birth control is not best for them. But for people under guardianship for whom the law has given someone else the power to make medical decisions, a court needs to step in and ask whether a less permanent form of birth control - an IUD or implant for women, for example - can address the problem of unwanted pregnancy and whether one of these alternatives may be more consistent with the ward's wishes and interests.

HB 2290 has already passed the House, and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Please voice your support for HB 2290 by calling the members of that committee:

Chairperson:Senator A.J. Wilhelmi 217-782-8800
Vice-Chair: Senator Don Harmon 217-782-8176
Minority Spokesperson: Senator Kirk W. Dillard 217-782-8148
Senator Randall M. Hultgren 217-782-8022
Senator Matt Murphy 217-782-4471
Senator Dale A. Righter 217-782-6674
Senator William R. Haine 217-782-5247
Senator Terry Link 217-782-8181
Senator Michael Noland 217-782-7746
Senator Kwame Raoul 217-782-5338
Senator Ira I. Silverstein 217-782-5500