When a twitter user @HolliResists posted that her gynecologist refused to tie her tubes without a signed consent from the woman’s husband she sparked an outcry from women everywhere. It’s no surprise, it’s an infuriating story. At it’s sadly familiar. If you keep your eyes open you’ll see there are plenty of similar cases being shared around the internet.
This medical bias, double-standard has always existed, as women are often treated like chattel when it comes to her reproductive rights — whether she wishes to not have any children or not anymore — she has to get permission from her husband. Even though it isn’t law, practices prefer to have something in order to avoid a lawsuit later, since the woman may be (gasp) acting on her own accord for bodily autonomy and making her own medical decisions. But if he wants to get sterilized, he isn’t going to get the same treatment. At least I don’t know a single guy in my orbit who was ever lectured with “are you sure” or “you will regret it” or was told “no, I need your girlfriend or wife to ok this” or “the state says you have undergo a psych evaluation first.”
As a woman, I have experienced similar medical bias when seeking birth control alternatives. I was single at the time and was chided numerous times by doctors whenever I voiced my desire to not have children of my own. They just didn’t understand it. Why couldn’t I just be patient and wait for my Prince Charming. You know, the one who was going to change my mind (even though that ins’t how it works).
I won’t go into my reasons for wanting to be child free by choice (though now I’m in my 40s and the point is moot); but FOR ME and MY LIFE (the one I am living, and paying for), they are/were valid. And no, not every woman is consumed with the desire to be a mother. There is nothing abnormal or wrong about people who don’t want to have kids of their own. To put it into perspective, there are plenty of guys out there who feel the same, and they don’t get nearly as much shade as women do. Men are not nearly as criticized for opting out of fatherhood. Also, I’ve known several male friends to get vasectomies and not a one got a chiding lecture, nor required permission from his wife or a psych evaluation. Yup, some states now require a woman to see a therapist before she can get her tubes tied. WTF? Right. How messed up is that? It amazes me the number of hoops a woman has to endure, the lectures and dismissal of her wants and needs, in favor of the socially programmed norms we’re expected to adhere to. Even women who already have children will face an uphill battle trying to get long term pregnancy prevention. They don’t want to have any more kids. How hard is that to fathom? And yet I’ve read countless stories of women (mothers and non-mothers alike) who found their inability to get fair and unbiased medial intervention to prevent pregnancies astounding.
We’re told time and time again women should be mothers. That’s it. Really? Ever hear of the Feminine Mystique? And while I have nothing against kids (I like them), nothing against people who want to be parents (more power to you), the idea of it does not bring me joy. It is not fulfilling to me personally. But I spent decades having my child free by choice lifestyle challenged by doctors, boyfriends, well-meaning friends, strangers…Look, I respect your lifestyle choices. You want to be a parent, great, I applaud you. But it would be nice not to hear the passive dismissal of my choice with phrases like, “Oh, you’ll change your mind.” Nope, I’m in my 40s now. I didn’t change it. Or, “You will regret not having your own kids.” Again, in my 40s and I didn’t regret it. I’m dating someone with adult children. I like being there as another adult in their lives who love and care for them (but they already have a mother and a father). Some of us just want different things in this life. It isn’t right or wrong, just different.