Between 2003 and 2011, more than 27,900 people underwent voluntary sexual sterilization. How many were sterilised on medical or mental grounds, without their written consent, is not disclosed. Although persons who coerce or intimidate another person to undergo sexual sterilisation can be fined a maximum of $10,000 (up from $5,000 before), unauthorised disclosure of confidential information relating to such matters attract a maximum fine of $10,000 (up from $2,000) and/or maximum jail term of 12 months. With such a severe gag order, will the true picture of draconian measures undertaken ever be known?
The new amendments in mind are supposed to accord the affected person the same legal rights as those imposing the extreme procedures on them. If the person is deemed to lack mental capacity, the proposed changes give the court power to decide on behalf of the individual. Bearing in mind the court also has the power to decide whether the individual is mentally capable in the first place, this smells like a catch-22 situation.
Opposition MP Sylvia Lim brought up another irksome matter: within our multi-racial and multi-cultural population are those whose religious convictions do not endorse sexual sterilisation for contraceptive purposes. Will they be over-ruled by the courts too? One Archbishop has been known to change his stance on a humanitarian issue after being invited out for lunch by a minister.
The Health Minister's response that "all relevant circumstances will also be explored" doesn't sound too assuring:
"As an additional safeguard, the spouse or parent or guardian will need to apply to the Court for an order to proceed. Similar to the Court's role under the MCA, the Court may then make an order declaring that the treatment is necessary in the best interests of the person. This application will need to be supported by a doctor's report stating that the person lacks mental capacity to give his or her own consent to the procedure, and that the procedure is necessary in the person's best interests."
We have already seen how a legal professional, waving a letter from a medical professional, march into a court house, and nearly declared an individual mentally incapacitated. More worrying, we have seen too many politicians exhibiting behaviors which bother on the bizarre- such as donning a cape and mask to ape a comic hero. Who's protecting us from them?