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Lancet. 1989 Jun 3;1(8649):1275-6.

Sterilisation of a mentally incapable woman.



Brahams reviews the implications of the House of Lords decision in F v. W Berkshire Health Authority (5 May 1989), in which the sterilization of a mentally retarded adult woman was held to be lawful in her best interests. While this case involved the legality of sterilizing a mentally incompetent adult with or without the leave of the High Court, arguments heard also concerned the uncertain legal status of all treatments needed by adults incapable of consenting to care. The House of Lords decided that the common law allows physicians to treat incompetent adults without judicial intervention provided that the treatment is in the patient's best interests. The view was expressed that at times a declaration by the Court might operate as a "third opinion" when doctors and family members disagree over what those best interests might be.

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