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Supreme court says mom should have gotten court-approval before ordering his vasectomy

Iowa Supreme Court
Iowa Supreme Court

DES MOINES – An Iowa mom who took her intellectually disabled adult son to get a vasectomy should have gotten court approval, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that a vasectomy is a “major elective surgery” and a “nonemergency major medical procedure” for which prior court approval is required of a guardian.

The court described circumstances leading up to the court case this way:

Stuart Kennedy is twenty-one-year-old man with significant intellectual disabilities who lives in a group home. The home is staffed around the clock. The staff help Stuart with various daily tasks, such as time management, finances, and transportation. Stuart has made progress at the group home and, for example, is able to prepare simple meals for himself. Stuart receives SSI benefits as well as $700 to $800 a month from a job at Sam’s Club.

In late 2009, after Stuart turned eighteen, his mother Maria Kennedy was appointed as his guardian. The guardianship continued. In late 2012 or early 2013, Maria became concerned that Stuart was involved in a relationship with Annamarie Jalali, a coworker at Sam’s Club. Stuart admits he told his mother that he and Jalali were having sex, although at the subsequent court hearing, both Stuart and Jalali denied they were anything more than friends. Stuart also provided money to Jalali to cover certain of her expenses. In addition, Jalali took Stuart to a credit union to open a bank account.

In January 2013, Stuart filed a handwritten petition to terminate the guardianship, alleging among other things that his mother was “too control[l]ing of my life and my money.” Maria in turn filed a petition for appointment of an involuntary conservator for Stuart and a petition for an injunction against Jalali, seeking a court order that she not have further contact with Stuart.

Before these matters could be heard, on February 18, 2013, Maria took Stuart to a doctor’s office to get a vasectomy. Maria contends that Stuart was in favor of the procedure and that it been discussed and agreed to. Stuart, however, disputed that he had wanted the vasectomy. On February 21, 2013, Stuart’s attorney filed a further petition to terminate or modify the guardianship reciting that “the Guardian forced the Ward to undergo forced sterilization.”

A lower court then ruled that the mother would keep guardianship of Stuart, and that Jalali would be barred from further contact with him because she had taken advantage of him to her financial gain. The Supreme Court was only tasked with answering whether court-approval is a requirement by a guardian to who wants a vasectomy for the ward. The court ruled that a vasectomy is a major surgery, due to the resulting sterilization, and court-approval would be required in the future.

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