This month, an article in a major women’s magazine reported on an “under-the-radar issue:” young women whose doctors refuse to perform tubal ligation. They highlight the case of a woman who, at age 20, began approaching doctors requesting the surgery, and each year for five years was told ‘no.’ When she explained that she did not and has never wanted children, physicians responded that they “thought the same thing at her age,” that she “hadn’t met the right man yet,” and, after telling her to think about it and come back in six months, required her to write an essay explaining her reasons.
Vanessa Cullins, M.D., an ob/gyn and vice president of external medical affairs at Planned Parenthood Federation of America said, “A woman and her doctor certainly need to have a dialogue about the implications of a tubal ligation, but a woman should not have to beg and plead to have one. That women are denied access to tubal ligations is another form of reproductive injustice.”
A study in Obstetrics and Gynecology found that 20.3% of women who had the procedure before age 30 later expressed regret.
How would you counsel a young patient requesting sterilization? Have you seen such women in your practice? Discuss your experiences, recommendations, and the ethical implications in the comments section below.