Matthew Hoffman

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Australian legislators propose sterilizing mentally ill children without parental consent

Matthew Hoffman
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March 12, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Legislators in the Australian state of Western Australia are proposing a new law that would permit doctors to sterilize mentally ill minors who “consent” to such surgery, without any agreement from their parents.

The law would also permit doctors to perform “psychosurgery” on consenting minors, again without their parents’ consent, and permits electroconvulsive therapy (previously known as “electroshock therapy”) under the same conditions.

The current law governing such matters, passed in 1996, has no provisions for sterilization, and does not permit minors to be given “psychosurgery” or electroconvulsive therapy without their parents’ permission.

Professor Jon Jureidini, a child and adolescent health expert called the bill’s language “absurd” in an interview with The Australian newspaper, asking: ” “How could you be so psychologically impaired you’re considered for psychosurgery yet be considered competent to give consent?” he asked.

The editors of Natural News, a health food publication noted that “Australia’s youngest members of society will be open game for the eugenicist agenda” and added that “It almost sounds like the plot of a sick movie.”

In paragraph 209 of the draft bill (pages 135 and 136 of the bill), the text provides that “a person must not perform a sterilisation procedure on a person who has a mental illness unless…if the person is a child who has sufficient maturity and understanding to make reasonable decisions about matters relating to himself or herself…” It also provides that authorization to perform such a sterilization on a child can be made by a Family Court judge, again, without mentioning parental consent.

Paragraph 170 (page 110) permits “psychosurgery,” which produces “lesions” on the brain in order to reduce the symptoms of mental illness, if “(a) the person is a neurosurgeon; and (b) the child has given informed consent to the psychosurgery being performed; and (c) the Mental Health Tribunal has given its approval under Part 18 Division 6 to the psychosurgery being performed.”  Parental consent is not mentioned.

Paragraph 155 (page 101) likewise permits “electroconvulsive therapy” on children between 12 and 18 who have “given informed consent,” without any requirement of permission from a parent or guardian.

According to Helen Morton, Western Australia’s Minister for Mental Health, the bill “aims to ensure that people are treated in the least restrictive way, in the most supportive way, and with their rights protected. It aims to keep people connected to families, to friends, to communities, wherever possible.”

However, she adds: “What our parliament needs now is a Bill that has been absolutely pored over by you folks. The people it most affects. Consumers, carers, families, and commissions. (...) We want to hear your views, everybody’s views on the draft Bill, both positive and negative and I do have to emphasise the importance of giving both positive and negative…”

A spokesperson for Morton suggested to The Australian that the government may be willing to re-evaluate when it comes to some of the more controversial clauses, saying there is “a likelihood things will be taken out once” once the consultation process is complete.

The state government is receiving comments by email at: [email protected], or by physical mail at: GPO Box X2299, Perth Business Centre, WA, 6847, although the official deadline for comment submission has passed.  A full page of information is displayed for the public here .

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