Breaking News
January 23, 2019 - VISTA checkpoint implicated in pancreatic cancer immunotherapy resistance
January 23, 2019 - The Tiny Camera That Could Revolutionize Cardiovascular Surgery
January 23, 2019 - Peptide isolated from soil fungi has antitumor and antibacterial properties
January 23, 2019 - TGen identifies polio-like virus as potential cause of Acute Flaccid Myelitis outbreak
January 23, 2019 - Migrants and refugees do not bring disease and are at greater health risk themselves says WHO
January 23, 2019 - Examing the effects of menopause in workplace
January 23, 2019 - Enemy number 1 – Air pollution and climate change top of WHO agenda
January 23, 2019 - Two Positive Phase III studies of Tafenoquine for the Radical Cure of Plasmodium vivax Malaria Published in The New England Journal of Medicine
January 23, 2019 - World Trade Center responders at increased risk for head and neck cancers
January 23, 2019 - Low-sugar diet leads to significant improvement in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in boys
January 23, 2019 - Chaos in bodily regulation can optimize our immune system, finds study
January 23, 2019 - Short, text-based exercises can increase happiness for adults recovering from substance use disorders
January 23, 2019 - Body size may have greater influence on women’s lifespan than men
January 23, 2019 - Groundbreaking tool helps visualize neuronal activity with near-infrared light
January 23, 2019 - Holocaust survivors with PTSD and their offspring exhibit more unhealthy behavior patterns
January 23, 2019 - Scientists discover new genetic mutations causing inherited deaf-blindness
January 23, 2019 - UC team designs new naloxone-dispensing smart device
January 23, 2019 - Torrent Pharmaceuticals Limited Issues Voluntary Nationwide Recall of Losartan Potassium Tablets, USP and Losartan Potassium and Hydrochlorothiazide Tablets, USP
January 23, 2019 - Brain activity shows development of visual sensitivity in autism
January 23, 2019 - Two hour gap between dinner and sleep is overrated says Japanese research
January 23, 2019 - Fear and embarrassment are causing smear test numbers to plummet
January 23, 2019 - Protein-secreting device implanted in epileptic rats reduces seizures, improves cognition
January 23, 2019 - Reintroduction project recovers current wild population of green turtle in Cayman Islands
January 23, 2019 - Cancer survivors face greater financial burden related to medical bills
January 23, 2019 - PSA screening reduces prostate cancer deaths by 30%
January 23, 2019 - LSTM receives grant to help improve health of people living in informal settlements
January 23, 2019 - Hemochromatosis Mutation Linked to Other Morbidity
January 23, 2019 - Why early diagnosis of autism should lead to early intervention
January 23, 2019 - Aspirin May Lower Stroke Risk in Women with History of Preeclampsia
January 23, 2019 - Exposure to certain chemicals may be linked to decrease in blood pressure during pregnancy
January 23, 2019 - Bowel cancer on the rise among younger Australians
January 23, 2019 - Scientists have reversed memory loss in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s
January 23, 2019 - Defective molecular master switch could lead to age-related macular degeneration
January 23, 2019 - Researchers identify how concussions may contribute to seizures
January 23, 2019 - Short interval between last meal of the day and bedtime may not affect blood glucose levels
January 23, 2019 - Still Too Many Highway Deaths Tied to Speeding
January 23, 2019 - Prenatal valproate exposure linked to increased ADHD risk
January 23, 2019 - Compound identified that may help treat heart failure
January 23, 2019 - Undiagnosed Asthma in Urban Adolescents May Be Common
January 23, 2019 - Study describes metabolism of intestinal microbiota in babies for the first time
January 22, 2019 - Study links concussions to development of epilepsy
January 22, 2019 - Specialist-led hospital bereavement service may help restrain legal action after difficult deaths
January 22, 2019 - Genetic study reveals possible new routes to treating osteoarthritis
January 22, 2019 - Blood test may detect early signs of lung-transplant rejection
January 22, 2019 - Blood marker could aid in early prediction of Alzheimer’s progression
January 22, 2019 - Orthodontic treatment does not guarantee future dental health
January 22, 2019 - Rutgers researchers discover cause of bone loss in people with joint replacements
January 22, 2019 - Diversity among rural Africans extends to their gut microbiomes
January 22, 2019 - Newly developed biological system lets cells to create self-curving cornea
January 22, 2019 - VTv Therapeutics Announces Publication of Comprehensive Data in Science Translational Medicine Detailing the Discovery and Clinical Development of TTP399, including Results of Phase 2 AGATA Study
January 22, 2019 - about one in three adults with prediabetes has arthritis
January 22, 2019 - A look at how data is democratizing health care
January 22, 2019 - Alcohol-Linked Disease Overtakes Hep C As Top Reason For Liver Transplant
January 22, 2019 - Researchers identify new genes linked with age-related macular degeneration
January 22, 2019 - MPFI researchers identify synaptic logic for connections between two brain hemispheres
January 22, 2019 - New approach to reduce toxic protein production in ALS
January 22, 2019 - New study extends our knowledge of the link between miRNAs and cancer
January 22, 2019 - Asthma, eczema are not barriers to active lifestyle in teenagers
January 22, 2019 - Genetic changes may predict likelihood of relapse in breast cancer patients
January 22, 2019 - Antiepileptic drug use by people with Alzheimer’s disease linked to accumulation of hospital days
January 22, 2019 - IUPUI researcher receives $2.85 million grant to find ways to improve bone strength
January 22, 2019 - Precision medicine can help keep astronauts healthy during deep space missions
January 22, 2019 - Detecting signs of neurodegeneration earlier and more accurately
January 22, 2019 - Mouse studies challenge ‘inhibition’ theory of autism
January 22, 2019 - SSB launches BIOSTAT RM TX single-use bioreactor for producing consistent quality cellular products
January 22, 2019 - Experimental drug can positively modify key characteristic behavior in FXS patients
January 22, 2019 - Low-Income Women Lack Menstrual Hygiene Supplies
January 22, 2019 - Better mouse model built to enable precision-medicine research for Alzheimer’s
January 22, 2019 - Molecular profiling of precancerous lung lesions could lead to early detection and new treatments
January 22, 2019 - Genetic factors influence where fat is stored in our bodies
January 22, 2019 - The Psychology Behind Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions
January 22, 2019 - Scientists aim to find genetic causes of developmental abnormalities in the vagina and uterus
January 22, 2019 - New survey reveals scale of preventative healthcare challenge in the UK
January 22, 2019 - Looming Global Crisis Means People’s Diets Must Change: Experts
January 22, 2019 - Excessive social media use is comparable to drug addiction
January 22, 2019 - Researchers show how mechanical stress affects bone development
January 22, 2019 - Study takes a step closer to understanding the body’s response to opioid painkillers
January 22, 2019 - Unexpected connection found between feeding and memory centers of the brain
January 22, 2019 - A revolutionary approach transforms bone trauma treatment
January 22, 2019 - Early studies and recent clinical trials on nerve growth factor
Sexist barriers block women’s choice to be sterilized

Sexist barriers block women’s choice to be sterilized

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Demonstrators rally in support of women’s rights at the Women’s March on Jan. 20, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Credit: Shutterstock

Women in Canada and the United States face extraordinary difficulties in seeking the birth control method of sterilization. When going to medical professionals to ask about the procedure, they often hear something like, “You’ll regret it” or “Get your husband to do it.”

The most common reason medical professionals provide for denying women’s voluntary sterilization is potential future regret.

There are many studies on the possibility of women regretting sterilization. The most commonly cited study from the U.S. finds that the rate of women’s post-sterilization regret is 20.3 per cent of those 30 or younger and 5.9 per cent of those over 30.

In contrast men who seek sterilization through vasectomy do not appear to be denied the procedure or subjected to the same concerns about regret. The absolute lack of data on how men feel about their sterilization, framed as regret or otherwise, shows a stark contrast.

Likewise, when women decide to seek fertility treatment they are not subject to the same level of scrutiny and do not usually have difficulty securing it.

The position of a woman opting for sterilization is thus unique. The decision to have children, to not have children or to render oneself unable to have children, has potentially life-changing consequences. However, it is only in the case of women seeking sterilization that regret is seen as a strong reason for denying reproductive choice.

Womanhood means motherhood

My research finds that women face difficulty in seeking voluntary sterilization because childless women challenge what is viewed as normal.

Currently, the reproductive norm is that women should want to give birth to children and have a duty to do so.

Challenging this idea carries social penalties. Stereotypes of childless women have been consistently negative since the late 1970s.

Women who are childless are viewed as less happy and as having a less rewarding life. They are also seen as socially undesirable, selfish and immature.

Women face discrimination about their decision to be childless at a greater rate than men due to beliefs that motherhood is biological to women (e.g. the maternal instinct), whereas fatherhood is learned for men. Such a belief is not substantiated but still widely held.

This finding is in line with studies on abortion regret, where women are often taken to be at high risk of regretting their decision to undergo an abortion due to similar reproductive norms.

Expectations that womanhood means motherhood promotes the belief that women should regret the decision to be childless. This is especially the case with voluntary sterilization, as opposed to other birth control methods, given the relative permanency of the procedure.

Ignoring women’s desires

The view that womanhood means motherhood is an inaccurate and harmful definition that excludes trans women.

It also leads to gendered assumptions that impact our medical system, as doctors make decisions based on sexist reproductive norms, rather than a woman’s desires and what is best for her.

For women seeking sterilization, this means they may not have an option for birth control or they may have to use a method that is unsuitable or undesirable to them.

It should be noted, however, that some women are more likely to receive access to sterilization or be involuntarily sterilized due to colonialism, racism, classism, heteronormativity, cisnormativity and other forms of discrimination.

This makes it even more important to investigate and account for who is granted and who is denied sterilization, and why.

The freedom to regret

The risk of regret pervades many of our large decisions, like those of undergoing a medical procedure or having children.

Since we do not have perfect knowledge of the future, the possibility always lingers that an individual may regret their decision. Still, we move on with our lives to the best of our abilities and we are generally free to make decisions that we might regret.

This freedom does not exist for women seeking voluntary sterilization. These women are viewed as extremely vulnerable to regret, when men seeking sterilization and women seeking fertility treatment are not.

Recognizing this phenomenon allows us to confront our biases against women who choose to be voluntarily childless and to ensure their access to the birth control method most suited to their needs.

Explore further:
Failed outpatient sterilization procedures not associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes

Provided by:
The Conversation

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles