When a Young Woman Says She Wants Her Tubes Tied, Doctors Should Listen to Her

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Happy babyI don’t know why so many people have a problem believing women who say they do not want children. Some people don’t want children! There are a whole lot of reasons to not want children, and if I started listing them now we’d be here all day. Suffice to say, it is completely reasonable for a woman to look at her life now and the life she wants for herself in the future and decide that she does not want any children.

And yet 30-year-old Londoner Holly Brockwell wrote in the Telegraph that she has been fighting for the past four years to be sterilized on the NHS, and doctors wouldn’t do it because she was too young.

That just seems so paternalistic. “You are a young woman, so clearly you can’t really want what you say you want, despite the copious amount of research and thought you’ve put into this, so we’re just going to decide what’s best for you.”

When asked why the NHS should pay for her sterilization, Brockwell pointed out that the surgery was cheaper than paying for contraception.

Brockwell said she has problems tolerating hormonal birth control, and the only varieties of the Pill that are effective for her are the high-dose ones that she says make her feel ill when she takes them and carry an increased risk of blood clots. The pain, dizziness, bleeding, and vomiting she cites as side effects of the pill sound pretty darn nasty. Since she knows she does not want children, she started asking to be permanently sterilized when she was 26, and she asked every year, but her doctors offered to give her boyfriend a vasectomy instead.

Her doctors said she was too young to make such a big decision, but plenty of people choose to have children younger than 26, and having kids is a much bigger and more life-changing decision than not having them.

Yes, it’s a very big, permanent decision that one might regret later in life, but a 26-, 28-, or 29-year-old woman is a grown-ass adult. We make big, irreversible, life-changing decisions all the time, and many of us come to regret them. (Ask me about my Art History degree.) Let her make it. If she regrets it, well, then she regrets it. But personally I don’t think anyone willing to actually go through with surgical sterilization is likely to change her mind later.

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