Let Them Be Snipped: A Proposal of Ideas
Carla Leanzo | Contributing Writer
Selfish. Regret. Irresponsible. Not truly in love.
All of these are ideas circulating around individuals, coined “childfree” that have decided to deliberately not have children. It seems, though, that family and friends seem to hold more interest in what my partner and I are doing with our reproductive organs than we actually do. I have never wanted children, and I still don’t.
After months of research, compiling an overstuffed folder to show my doctor so he can take me seriously, collecting surgeon’s phone numbers, and even educating people on the various birth control options out there, I have decided that permanent sterilization is the right choice for me.
Here’s the kicker though: I, like many on childfree communities such as Reddit or The Childfree Life, are in our late teens and early twenties. We like sex, we love our partners, and we don’t love kids. We are responsible with our birth control, yet want the peace of mind to know that there’s no tubes there or no “bullets in the gun” (Sperm. I’m talking about sperm, people) to cause an accident. So, what’s the deal, anyways?
Currently, most doctors are unwilling to sterilize patients under 30 years of age.
By allowing patients of legal adult age–eighteen years and above–to decide what birth control method is right for them, even if permanent, could help solve the problems of overpopulation, birth control failure and bodily autonomy.
As a legal adult, a patient holds full rights to their body in regards to a safe, highly effective procedure. According to a sterilization pamphlet by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, tubal ligations still hold a failure rate of about .08 percent.
However, a less-broached option known as a bilateral salpingectomy (full removal of the fallopian tubes) almost entirely eliminates this failure rate since instead of the fallopian tubes being only clipped or blocked–still leaving room for an egg and sperm to possibly meet–the fallopian tube is entirely removed and any egg released is absorbed by the body.
In my recent interview with a doctor of Virginia Planned Parenthood, Dr. David Peters, I asked him if he would warn younger patients that came in claiming to want children if they would later regret their decision like so many doctors tell individuals that want to be sterilized.
He said, “There is definitely a double standard when it comes to pregnancy. If I had my way, I would require a test of competency to allow pregnancy.”
Wanting to remain childfree, and even go forth with the surgical procedure to ensure that, is a personal decision that should only be concluded by the couple involved. In speaking to my father about going forward with a bilateral salpingectomy, I was simply told, “This is a decision you make on your own…you have to be the one to decide what you are going to do and how you are going to deal with the outcomes.”
This is a decision reached after long, hard reflection and research on what I was getting myself into. I know what choice is right for myself and I am confident in the conclusion that I have reached. If I am old enough to decide to start a family and have children, then I–and others–are old enough and responsible enough to decide not to.
Oftentimes, doctors will refuse to sterilize a patient for fear that, if the patient later changes their mind, the patient will sue aforementioned doctor for even performing the sterilization procedure to begin with.
However, the repercussions of a voluntary surgery, including later changing their mind, should be entirely the patient’s responsibility. To ensure this responsibility, the patient must sign a liability form that holds the patient responsible if they later change their mind, releasing the doctor from any and all responsibility. As with any surgery, patients are required to sign a consent form, but adding an appendix that would hold the patient liable for their choice should be added onto the consent forms.
Sterilization is also usually denied to patients because regret rates are a true occurrence that are not uncommon for the average young patient. There are, however, alternative options for couples if they do later want to start a family.
Although not always successful, in-vitro fertilization is an option if a couple wants to try for biological children. If in-vitro fertilization is not an option or is not wanted, then a consensual, surrogate pregnancy with a trusted female is also an option, or even adoption if a surrogate pregnancy is not possible. There are many options available to a couple if they change their mind later in life about starting a family.
Finally, it is not uncommon for an individual looking to undo their fertility to be asked, “What if your partner later wants kids?” Although sterilization is an entirely voluntary procedure, meaning that the patient must make their decision at their own discretion, one possible solution could be to encourage the patient to discuss their choice with their partner if they have one. This would give the couple the option to discuss such an influential life decision, although the decision would still ultimately rest upon the individual obtaining the procedure.
Sterilization is a procedure that is safe and effective, yet holds a stigma around it because it is permanent and there are other options such as the IUD, implant and other hormonal options such as the pill, patch or ring. However, for patients that are absolutely sure they wish to remain childfree and do not wish to manage contraceptives, sterilization is a valid option that allows a couple to freely enjoy their romantic life without the hassle of birth control or the fear of possible political influence on their availability.
Sterilization also offers peace of mind with the security of a vasectomy, even paired with a bilateral salpingectomy for the utmost effectiveness. In fact, upon talking to Dr. Peters, he enlightened me on the fact that, “…every study done has shown that people with children perform lower in every measurable form of success or happiness.” This demonstrates how couples are no less valid for not wanting children than they would be if they did decide to reproduce, and even younger couples should be respected in their decision.