A bunch of moms I know have been talking about birth control for the first time in a decade. These are women who used condoms in the 90s – a whack of them went on the pill, too – but they haven’t given much thought to birth control ’til recently, now that they’re done of having kids. So they’re booking vasectomies for their partners, or a tubal ligation for themselves. Done and done.
For some women, that’s not such an easy task. Especially if you’re, say, 24 years old, female and child-free by choice. That would describe Hanna Brooks Olsen, who wrote about her decision never to have children on our sister site Blisstree. Hanna wants a tubal ligation but she has yet to find an OB/GYN who will do the procedure for her. That’s because it’s irreversible, and because they say she’s too young to make that type of decision.
Turns out Hanna’s not alone. More than 100 people commented on her piece to say that just that. There’s a commenter named Rich, for instance, who shared his story:
“My wife and I both knew before we met each other at age 22 in 1979 that we were not going to have children. We heard all the same things such as selfish, misguided, “who will take care of you when you are old” etc. from our Mothers and some friends. Other friends told us that we were wise in our youth. 30 years have passed, and we still feel the same way. We do not regret our decisions at all, and have had a full and happy life.”
One 58-year-old woman wrote in to say she “gets” it and that she not once regretted her decision undergo the procedure 36 years ago:
“I had mine done when I was going on 22. I was shocked that I wasn’t hassled about my choice, as I’d heard horror stories such as yours (“You’ve gotta be married, over 35, and have at least 6 kids already!” was the typical story I’d hear from my gal pals).
And I had it done a long time ago: I am 58 now.
I have to say that getting a tubal is probably the ONLY life decision that I’ve made about which I continue to have absolutely NO second thoughts. I’d even go so far as to state that it’s the ONLY truly intelligent decision that I’ve made in my life.”
Part of Hanna’s frustration lies in not knowing when she will, in fact, be able to have a tubal. She says her doctor usually just selects an arbitrary number (at age 21, she was told she’d have to wait ’til she was 25. At 22, that number became 30. And now, at 24, the answer is “at least 30″). “She wants to make sure I won’t regret the decision,” Hanna writes. “Which sounds caring and cautious but is, in fact, misguided.”
It seems everyone has an opinion on the matter. Dozens of people wrote in with similar stories but more than a few warned that she’ll regret her decision one day. Of course, it’s Hanna’s decision to make (hello, this is her body we’re talking about) – and the question for her is just a matter of when, not if.
What do you think the answer should be for women like Hanna who are in their late teens or 20s and are certain they don’t want children? Should they be entitled to tubal ligation, no questions asked? Is there a magical cut-off age that makes it okay to undergo the procedure? Take our poll and share your comments below – we’d love to hear what you think.
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