The age at which I can have elective surgery under general anesthetic by providing informed consent is 18. I could go into an operating room for a tummy tuck, a breast augmentation, breast reduction, ACL repair, or any other procedure without anyone ever saying ‘You are too young to make this decision.’
I’ve been trying to get sterilized for 12 years, since I was 18. Although most such procedures require going under general anesthesia, there is at least one that does not. Essure is permanent, non-hormonal birth control which can be put in place as an outpatient procedure with minimal risk and recovery time.
The fact of the matter is that I could decide, as has been mentioned, after a couple or ten drinks that I need to have a kid, right now, and nobody would dare ever question whether I am old enough (I’m 30) to make such a permanent decision. I have had doctors tell me that I’m not old enough, that I don’t understand what it’s like, that I will feel differently about my own kids, that I’m in denial, that I will later regret it, that my biological clock will start ticking when I’m 25 (28, 30, 35… the age keeps changing) and that I should see a psychiatrist to learn to accept my natural role as a woman.
This has nothing whatsoever to do with any risk about it being an elective, unnecessary surgery and everything to do with the fact that doctors don’t want to be sued later by women who regret their decision. They think a jury would hammer them for not protecting us poor, incapable women from making decisions we might regret.
Every time, I ask them, which is worse? If I never have kids and one day regret that, or if I do have a kid and one day regret that? They don’t seem to understand, or care, about the consequences of that question. In my personal experience, women doctors have been the most hostile.