Doctor Thwarts Canadian Woman's Choice To Be Sterilized

Meet Tarrah Seymour, 21, of Brampton, Ontario. She's a married college graduate with a toddler son and another on the way. Seymour and her husband are adamant that their family will be complete at four. Her OB/GYN feels otherwise.

Seymour and her husband, Adam Sylvester, met in college, fell in love, and got married. They both want to be police officers, but Sylvester, currently a security guard, is planning to stay home with their kids until they reach day-care age while Seymour works. Having their children early was always the plan — "I want to be young with them," explains Sylvester. "I want to run in the park with them, stuff like that." But so was stopping at two.

Currently five months pregnant, Seymour asked her OB/GYN, Dr. Kayode Ayodele, to perform a tubal ligation concurrently with her planned Caesarean section. Dr. Ayodele replied, "No."

And Seymour is understandably irate. "I thought we could make our own decision, with some guidance, not have the decision made for us," said Seymour. "We know what we want in life: we want two kids and then we want to start our careers. We had logical reasons behind it. He should have listened and respected that." Through her primary care physician, Seymour is still looking for an OB/GYN willing to sterilize her — but because of her age, she's been told it's a tough ask.

Young women are often discriminated against when seeking sterilization. Many doctors ask offensive questions ("What if you met a billionaire who wanted to have kids with you?"), state categorically that their patients are too young to consider the surgery, and generally act as though, as one woman who tried unsuccessfully to be sterilized at the age of 21 in the U.K. put it, "just because I was a woman, I'd reach a point where an urge to breed would overcome all rational thought." (Perhaps unsurprisingly, that woman's 25-year-old husband faced no such presumptions when he asked his doctor for a vasectomy. The procedure was quickly approved.)

Why is the choice to take any lingering contraceptive ambiguity out of one's life met with such scorn by so many in the medical establishment? Why does society at large indulge in the sexist, ageist assumption that young women aren't capable of making this particular decision? (Representative line from the two women journalists who wrote for the Daily Fail about women under 30 who've been sterilized: "While some might think it strange to celebrate the reversal of nature and denial of motherhood, Toni relishes her decision with an almost religious zeal.")

"I find it incredibly patronizing," says Sue McGarvie, an Ottawa sex therapist.

Tarrah Seymour, who is educated, in a stable relationship, and obviously not one of those child-free freaks of nature the Fail is harping on, makes a very sympathetic case for being allowed the surgery she desires. But the point is everyone should have their basic right to make decisions regarding their bodies and their health without unnecessary interference from the government or the medical establishment — regardless of sex, marital status, or age. The right to make our own medical decisions is something women have fought long and hard for; it need hardly be pointed out that this is a right men have long enjoyed without any questioning.

Unfortunately, with people like Montreal OB/GYN Cleve Ziegler running around saying numb-skulled things like, "Any wise, experienced gynecologist will turn down a young woman seeking a tubal ligation," these attitudes don't seem likely to change. Continued Ziegler, "We've all seen that woman who had two kids, had her tubes tied at 28, and at 29 [has] a new boyfriend and wants it reversed." How nice to know that Dr. Ziegler, like Dr. Ayodele, treats his every female patient as though she were that hormone-addled lizard-brained lady creature of medical myth, instead of an individual in need.

Doctors Deny Mom's Tubal Ligation [CNews]
Meet The Women Who Won't Have Babies — Because They're Not Eco-Friendly [Daily Mail]
Tying The Knot [Macleans]
Female Hysteria [Wikipedia]

Earlier: Having Kids: Sometimes The Answer Is Just "No"
Dudes Frightened Of Duplicitous, Kid-Coveting Women Are Opting For Vasectomies