More and more adults, and specifically, women, are choosing to not have children. Whether because of health concerns, environmental concerns, or simply because they don’t want to be a parent, they are deciding not to have them. Despite their desire to not have children, however, many doctors will not sterilize them, also known as tubal ligation or a hysterectomy. This young woman shared her story about being denied sterilization by her gynecologist. Her video sparked a debate about how much influence doctors should have on the decisions women make with their own bodies.
Woman Wants To Be Sterilized But Her Doctor Says No
22-year-old college student from Massachusetts, Olivia Downs, recently has gone viral on TikTok. The video that shot her to TikTok stardom is one where she is acting out what happened when she went to her gynecologist asking for tubal ligation. This is the medical term for “getting your tubes tied”, also known as medical sterilization. The procedure makes it so that a woman can’t get pregnant. It is completely irreversible. (1, 2)
“Hi, Mrs Gynecologist! My name is Olivia. I never want children. I’ve had this made up in my mind since I was old enough to think of the concept. Can I please have my tubes tied?” she starts off the video.
Next, she responds to herself but pretending to be her gynecologist.
“No, it’s permanent.”
“Yeah, I know!” Olivia said. “That’s why I asked. I’d like that option.”
“Well, no. You might meet Mr Right and change your mind.” the gynecologist countered.
“No. It’s not my plan. It’s not in my five year plan, it’s not in my ten year plan, my fifty year plan. I don’t want that,” Olivia tried to explain.
“Yeah, but you might change your mind, and it’s permanent, so here’s a brochure for an IUD,” the gynecologist responded. “It has the same efficacy rate. We put it in your uterus and you bleed and cramp for three months,”
Olivia said, no thank you, that’s not at all what she wants. That’s where the video ends. It has now garnered over three million views.
@lvdwns Got the death sentence today #childfree #gyno #birthcontrol #ewkidsaregross ♬ original sound – Olivia Downs
New research done in the United States found that 44% of non-parents aged 18 to 49 say that it’s not too likely or not at all likely that they will have children. Birth rates in the country, and in many places around the world, are at a record low. Simply put, fewer adults are wanting to have children. (3)
The reasons as to why are a mixed bag, with not a signal reason being overly more common than another. The state of the world, finances, careers, other life goals, their age or the age of their partner, and not having a partner were all reasons why people said no to children. For many, they simply just don’t want them. It was also almost exactly 50/50 between men and women.
Despite this, women are still often denied sterilization procedures that will prevent them from ever having children. As Olivia’s video demonstrates, many people still do not believe that women are capable of or should be allowed to make decisions about their own bodies.
Read: Newborn’s face sliced open during emergency C-section
What The Internet Has To Say
There were many people commenting on Olivia’s video cheering her on and agreeing with her. They talked about how people need to understand and accept that some women just don’t want to have kids. Many commented their dislike for the comment about meeting a man. The women talked in the comments section about how whoever their “Mr. Right” may be, he will also not want to have children. The women agreed that they will not be making this drastic and (also) permanent life decision based on what someone else wants.
“An adult can make a decision about their own body…if they regret it, that is on them,” said one commenter. “That is not for a doc to decide. Makes me livid.” (4)
“THIS! YES!! I NEVER WANTED AND NEVER WILL WANT KIDS!! I’ll be 40 in four years,” said another.
Not everyone agreed, however. There were still many people commenting much of the usual kinds of comments. Humans are meant to procreate, those who don’t do it are selfish, etc.
“People need to understand [that] humans are meant to breed and create more humans,” one commenter said. “People who don’t want kids are wasting that privilege away.”
“You’re too young to know what you want. The doctor is literally smarter than you at this. You should listen.” said another.
To these people, Olivia reminds them that women are more than just baby incubators. She also said that while the doctor may be “smarter” in that they know how to and are capable of doing the procedure, it doesn’t mean they know better what she wants to do with her body. In the end, it all comes down to women deserving the right of choice over what happens with their own bodies.
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- “WOMAN, 22, SPARKS DEBATE ABOUT MEDICAL FREEDOM AFTER DOCTOR REFUSED TO STERILISE HER: ‘I JUST DON’T WANT KIDS!’” Independent. Meredith Clark. June 2022.
- “Tubal ligation.” Mayo Clinic
- “Growing share of childless adults in U.S. don’t expect to ever have children.” Pew Research. Anna Brown. November 19, 2021.
- “Woman Says Doctor Denied Sterilizing Her Because She ‘Might Meet Mr. Right’.” Newsweek. Shira Li Bartov. June 22, 2022.