A.S. v. Hungary: Informed Consent: A Signature is Not Enough

A.S., a Hungarian woman of Roma origin, underwent surgery at a public hospital in connection with a miscarriage. Minutes after being admitted to the hospital in a “state of shock” and while on the operating table, A.S. was asked to sign a statement of consent to a caesarean section. The statement also contained a barely legible handwritten note using the Latin word for sterilization. A.S. did not know that she was signing a form authorizing her sterilization (by tubal ligation); she learned that she had been sterilized only after the surgery, when she asked when it would be safe for her to try to have another baby. A.S. was not provided with information or advice concerning sterilization and its effects, risks, or consequences, nor was she provided with information or advice about alternative family planning methods. A.S.’s inability to have more children has caused her and her partner great suffering.