International Legal Developments Protecting the Autonomy Rights of Sexual Minorities: Who Should Decide the Appropriate Treatment for an Intersex Child?
ETHICS AND INTERSEX 87, Sharon Sytsma, ed., Springer, 2006
16 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2006 Last revised: 24 Mar 2009
During the past decade, the dominant medical protocol for the treatment of intersex infants has come under heavy attack. One of the current debates centers on whether parents should be allowed to consent to nonmedically necessary genital surgery on their intersex infants. Some activists insist that a moratorium on all such surgeries should be imposed until these children reach the age of consent and can make their own decisions. Others believe that parents should be allowed to consent to these surgeries on behalf of their children, but maintain that informed consent procedures must be enhanced. Finally, some argue that the autonomy rights of the intersex infant require that courts review the parental consent to ensure that ethical standards are maintained. Thus far, the Constitutional Court of Colombia is the only high court to have rendered a decision on this issue. This essay discusses the Colombia decision and analyzes recent court decisions from Europe, Australia and the United States involving other sexual minorities to determine how these courts may resolve this issue if they are brought into the controversy. It concludes that courts may not be the ideal forum to resolve these issues because judges may render a decision based upon their own prejudices or stereotypes.
Keywords: intersex, genital surgery, Constitutional Court of Colombia, European Court of Human Rights, informed consent, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, privacy, autonomy, sterilization
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation