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In re Grady
New Jersey Supreme Court
426 A.2d 467 (1981)
Lee Ann Grady was born with Down’s syndrome, which greatly impaired her cognitive functions. For the first 19 years of her life, Grady attended a special class within the public school. Aware that Grady would no longer be eligible to attend the special class when she turned 20, Grady’s parents decided to place her in a work group shelter and home for individuals with intellectual disabilities. After discussing the decision with Grady’s doctor, Grady’s parents sought to have her sterilized as a precaution before changing her living environment. However, the hospital refused to sterilize Grady without judicial authorization. In response, Grady’s parents petitioned a court to authorize the procedure. The trial court judge appointed Grady a guardian ad litem and met with Grady to better understand her condition. The judge heard testimony from Grady’s father and several experts, received evidence documenting Grady’s condition, and considered the interests of Grady and the state. All parties involved agreed that sterilization was the best course of action. The judge then authorized the sterilization procedure on the ground that because Grady was unable to make a meaningful decision about sterilization, her parents had the authority to exercise substituted consent. The matter was appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court to consider the appropriate standard for authorizing an incompetent person’s sterilization.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Pashman, J.)
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