Holly Brockwell is happy to report that she isn't expecting kids — not now, and not ever. She just won a four-year legal battle with the National Health Service for the right to be sterilized.
Brockwell first asked her doctor about getting her tubes tied when she was 26 and was met with a series of patronizing comments from healthcare providers, according to The Telegraph. One doctor reportedly suggested that Brockwell's boyfriend get a vasectomy because she was "too young" to think about such a permanent birth control decision.
After speaking publicly about her choice, Brockwell was bombarded with online harassment and violent threats.
These are the messages I referred to in my Mail article, by the way, from an NHS paramedicpic.twitter.com/xTTEp9puTe
Following her operation at St Thomas's Hospital in Central London, Brockwell published a column in the Daily Mail where she described feeling "euphoric" about finally knowing she won't have an unwanted pregnancy.
"I've been patronized, ignored, harassed, judged and demonized," Brockwell wrote. "But I've never wavered in my determination to be sterilized." (Brockwell did not return Mic's request for comment at press time.)
It's common for women around the world to face discrimination when they seek out permanent birth control. In 2015, 31-year-old, Virginia-based Reddit user riveramblnc shared her experience with condescending doctors and spending months on a waiting list before she could get permanent birth control.
"Forcing [women] to go through all these steps and then watch a patronizing video that pretty much implies if we're under 40 we'll regret our decisions is archaic at best," she wrote.
Tell my doctor told me I'm too young and I don't have enough kids to get my tubes tied
I asked for the 10 year IUD, paraguard. They refused.
It's not unheard of for doctors to require women to jump through all sorts of hoops to get their tubes tied (otherwise known as a tubal ligation), particularly if they think they're "too young" to undergo the procedure.
A Reddit user in her early thirties, known only as gfjq23, recounted her own experience, in which a male doctor required that she undergo a year of weekly counseling before he would consider performing the procedure. "This is the first case I've had in a decade of someone saying I'm too young to make a decision about my own body," she wrote.
Even women who already have children are often told they are too young to get their tubes tied, yet doctors have fewer reservations about performing vasectomies on young adult men. Brockwell's public legal battle is just one step in a an ongoing fight for healthcare professionals to recognize a woman's right to make lasting choices about her own reproductive health.