Sterilization and Sexism

I’ve heard it’s virtually impossible for a woman who hasn’t had any kids to get her tubes tied, whereas it’s relatively easy for a man in a similar situation to get a vasectomy.

If this is indeed the case, shouldn’t the law step in to address this inequality?

It always seemed like a bullshit argument to deny the procedure because later the person may regret it. It may very well be a permanent decision, but so is having a child. It is vastly better, in my not so humble opinion, to regret never having a child than to have a child whose existence you’ll (secretly, because admitting it out loud would never be socially acceptable) regret.

I have addressed this issue with my doctors and can speak to it from a personal standpoint.

I have wanted to be sterilized since I was about 19. At that age, I knew it was impractical, and I held off doing anything about it since I knew I would be laughed out of the office. My reasons, however, may somewhat complicate the debate since they are medical in nature - I would like to have a hysterectomy to help deal with my endometriosis.

When I was 22, and the pain was so intense I could barely function, I asked about a hysterectomy. I was told that I would need to have a child before they would consider it. I explained that I do not ever intend to have child, which was greeted with much scepticism. I was repeadetly told that I would change my mind when I “settled down”. When I was 24, I asked again, and was given the same reason. At 27, I was told they would consider it if I was firmly committed to being childless after 30. All this when I had a sound medical reason for wanting the hysterectomy. I can’t imagine what women go through trying to get their tubes tied at a younger age without children.

I wonder if the doctors refuse to do this is based on the numbers of women who later “regret” their decision. I’m not sure of the stats on this. I would be curious to know if a woman can sue a doctor for malpractice for performing a sterilzation at a young age and if this is a factor in the doctor’s decision making process?

I fully agree with the OP, and I think this is firmly a women’s rights issues. No one but me should be entitled to decide if I have children, and if I make the choice to deal with it permanently before becoming pregnant so much the better. Complications may arise if there are mental health issues, or rash decisions due to sudden life changing events… but on the whole, this one is clear cut for me.

So apparently it takes 12 years or so of consistantly wanting to be childless for that decision to be “valid”, but the decision to have a child can be had in a single night over a few glasses of wine.

Rather like the abortion debate, where an underage girl isn’t “responsible enough” to choose abortion, but somehow IS responsible enough for pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood.

Doesn’t this really just come down to the fact that a vasectomy can be reserved and a tubal ligation or hysterectomy can’t?

Vasectomies can not be *reliably *reversed. If you’re considering a vasectomy, consider it permanent. While a reversal can sometimes be done, you won’t know before hand if your scar tissue will allow it.

As for the matter at hand, I think it’s ridiculous, but I’m not sure legislation is the way to go here. Seems like what it would take is a change in standards of practice - probably by the The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and/or the AMA.

And I do think it’s a misogynistic holdover - from the idea that all women must want children from their own wombs and the fragile creatures will be devastated someday if they can’t. And, of course, Doctor Knows Best. Otherwise, they’d suggest egg harvest and surrogacy or adoption as alternate ways to become a mother.

I’ve also heard about successful tubal reversals–I’ve seen a few women get pregnant after a tubal reversal on a pregnancy message board I frequent.

Not sure it’s misogynistic per se. I too don’t ever want to have children, yet every time I mentionned the fact to siblings or doctors, I got the “you don’t know yet, you’ll change your mind, trust us, you’ll settle down, you’re young, blah blah blah” speech. Yet I’m a big (er…) strong (ERRRR…) man.

So either it’s merely an age thing (“you’re a dumb 18…22…30 year old kid, Father Knows Best”) or it’s a societal thing (“If you don’t want kids, you’re a freak, buddy.”)

Couldn’t it be super secret choice C: This is a fairly permanent operation (that can only be reversed with luck) and it it not medically beneficial to 99.9% of the world. Therefore, it would be irresponsible to do it to someone under X number of years old.

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.

No, not when the procedure is being sought by someone with a medical problem that could be solved by it.

Thus, the 0.1% of people that are not covered by Super Secret Choice C

Everyone who seeks sterilization has a medical problem that could be solved by it: fertility

And when you don’t want kids, ever, fertility is a HUGE problem.

As far as I can tell, you’re saying it’s not illegal, but that the doctors refuse to do it. I think they’re wrong, but it is their choice.

Vox Imperatoris

So if there’s a trend where most doctors decide that black folks aren’t competent enough for surgery X, but white folks are, is that ok because it’s “their choice”?

“We have the right to refuse service to anyone” isn’t an absolute principle, especially if discimination is rampant.

I don’t think a doctor can refuse to provide a valid surgical option to a patient solely on the basis of their belief that a woman will be naturally inclined to pregnancy at some point in her future. Unless the surgeon is also a trained psychologist with insight into the mental well-being of this patient, this is a leap of logic they are not qualified to make. Furthermore, this is not a procedure that is dangerous or out of the norm. I can understand a doctor refusing to perform a breast augmentation surgery on a 16 year old with body issues. I cannot abide a doctor refusing to sterilize a woman on the patriarchic notion that she must be delusional or mistaken in her commitment to remain childless.

To Catsix - I, too, was denied the Essure, which indicates to me that the refusal to provide service is not at all linked to the invasive nature of the surgery.

I missed my edit window, but wanted to add…

I have tried several approaches to convince the doctors I have seen that my desire to be sterilized is a well thought out decision. A hysterectomy seems the best approach because it solves a dual problem: my endometriosis and my desire to not have children. When that was taken off the table, I appealed for the essure. I told them that I didn’t want children, but, in the highly unlikely event that I do decide to have a child, I would not, under any circumstances, bear my own child. I have serious medical history in my family that I’ve no wish to pass on to a child. The fact that I had medical justifications that were entirely rational for my decision and yet was still refused by three separate doctors is further justification for the argument that this decision is being passed on archaic notions of womanhood.

One factor is surely that there are a half-dozen very effective and fully reversible means of birth control.

i had a tubal ligation that reversed itself … the old style where they just sort of made a loop and tied it off.

When they fixed that little issue, they actually cut and removed tube.

And I had a seriously great obgyn, i got my tubal at 22 … but i had almost died 2 times from pregnancies first.