Women with Disabilities Can Choose Too

The Constitutional Court of Colombia blocked the sterilization of a disabled teenage girl until she could be fully informed and freely make her own decision.

  • Country: Colombia
  • Edition: 2017
  • Visits: 1053
  • Court: Constitutional Court of Colombia
  • Date of the Decision: 19/10/2016
  • Votes: 175

The mother of a 15-year-old girl with disabilities asked the public healthcare system to remove her daughter’s contraceptive implant because it was causing pain and discomfort. She asked to have the girl sterilized via tubal ligation instead. Clinic staff explained to her that the law required court authorization for surgical contraceptive procedures. The mother went to court for authorization, and the case made its way to the Constitutional Court of Colombia.

In its decision, the Court found that women with disabilities have the right to make their own decisions regarding all aspects of their lives, including decisions regarding their bodies and sexual and reproductive health, in equality and free of discrimination. The Court went on to say that in the event the person is unable to express his or her wishes regarding a sterilization procedure even after receiving all the support and information necessary to do so, the procedure should not be performed. 

The Court ordered the creation of an interdisciplinary team including a medical doctor, a psychologist, and a social worker to inform the girl of her rights to make decisions regarding her own body freely and independently so she could decide whether to give her consent for a contraceptive method, and if so, which one best met her needs. 

The decision is available in Spanish here

Judges who issued the decision

María Victoria Calle Correa

Luis Guillermo Guerrero Pérez 

Luis Ernesto Vargas Silva 


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Constitutional Court of Colombia.
Constitutional Court of Colombia.
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Decision T-573 Constitutional Court of Colombia
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