I.V. went to a hospital for a cesarean section and was sterilized by her doctor. She alleged that the only questions that the doctor had asked her before the procedure were where she had her first cesarean section and whether she had previously had an infection. I.V. maintained that she was not given any information regarding contraceptive methods, nor was she asked whether she had been informed of or consulted regarding her sterilization. During the procedure, the doctor discovered numerous adhesions and concluded that another pregnancy could be risky to her. He then performed tubal ligation on I.V., permanently sterilizing her. After the cesarean section, I.V. suffered pains and fever and was diagnosed with acute endometritis and remains of placenta in the uterus, causing her to require two curettage procedures. Two weeks later, I.V. was hospitalized again due to an abscess of the abdominal wall and bruising on the wound left by the cesarean section.

Three medical audits were conducted. The first audit stated that I.V. had consciously given consent. The second audit concluded that the ligation had been performed preemptively to preserve the mother’s future wellbeing. The third audit stated that (1) no justification had existed for carrying out the ligation because the presence of multiple adhesions did not pose a risk to the patient’s life;  (2) there had been no written consent and it was not acceptable to take the consent of the patient during the surgical or peri-operative procedure; and (3) that the doctor who had performed the procedure had alternated between describing himself as “communicating” or having had “communicated” the subject of sterilization to I.V., which was an inconsistency that casted doubt on the doctor’s testimony.

The petitioner alleged that the State of Bolivia subjected I.V. to a sterilization procedure without her informed consent, and that the judicial authorities also denied her access to justice to a remedy for the alleged violations of her rights. Further, the petitioner alleged that these facts violated rights protected by Articles 5 (Rights to Humane Treatment), 8 (Right to a Fair Trial), 11 (Right to Privacy), 13 (Freedom of Thought and Expression), 17 (Rights of the Family), and 25 (Right to Judicial Protection), as well as Article 1.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 7 of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women. She maintained that there were improper and unwarranted delays in the criminal proceedings; that she continued to suffer the physical and psychological consequences of the procedure and of the alleged denial of justice; that even if she had been asked about the sterilization procedure, her acceptance under the circumstances would not constitute informed consent, as she was under anesthesia, surgical stress, and lying prostrate in the operating room; that there was no justification for carrying out the tube ligation because the alleged risk to I.V.’s life would only be posed in the event of a possible future pregnancy, not at the time of the cesarean section; and that, since the intervention was not necessary to save the life or health of I.V. in the presence of an imminent danger, there was no justification for taking the decision to perform the ligation during the cesarean section. The State argued that I.V. had consented orally to the procedure, that the procedure was carried out because another pregnancy would pose a risk to her life, and that she had access to appropriate legal remedies.