When I talk about women's choices regarding children, pregnancy, and childbirth, someone usually asks about the men. Last month, I interviewed half a dozen men of varying ages, backgrounds, and life experience about why they never want to have children. A number of them had considered getting (or had already gotten) a vasectomy. The number one reason? It's easier (from a surgical/recovery standpoint) and cheaper than any option women have.
A fairly obvious question that I haven't addressed during this series is whether women have the right to be sterile. It seems like sort of an obvious one (if not with just one obvious answer) until you consider how we frame other discussions about women's health.
Do you think women know that non-invasive procedures like Essure are an option? Do you think childfree women have the same trouble securing any form of permanent birth control, no matter which type they want? Have you encountered resistance from medical professionals about sterilization options?
After I got my tubes tied last year, I got a lot of questions from friends (and strangers) about what a tubal ligation actually means. It's not a common procedure for a young (under 30), relatively healthy childfree woman to have, and most of my friends (parents and non-parents) rely on other forms of birth control, permanent or otherwise. I realize that a lot of Bitch readers know a lot about their bodies and reproductive health, but in the interest of clearing up some misconceptions about tubal ligations specifically (I'll get to other permanent birth control like Essure later this week), here are a few of the questions I've fielded and how I generally answer them.
This week on Grey's Anatomy: problem storylines galore! Pregnancies, relationships, everyone telling everyone else what to do, and not a whole lot of anyone listening to anyone else. Grey's wants to set us up for sweeps with a bang, apparently, and we've got a lot of thoughts about it after the jump.
If we're going to talk about voluntary sterilization—or even the simple act of opting to have few or no children—we've got to get everyone on the same historical page. While I tend to take for granted that people understand the history of forced sterilization in the U.S., as well as countries such as China that mandate single-child families as part of population control, it may not be a given that everyone understands the connections between modern eugenics, race/class/ability privilege, reproductive justice, and the struggle for voluntary sterilization. Much as I know loads of folks use it as a jumping off point, skimming the Wikipedia entries for compulsory sterilization and eugenics in the United States only gets you so far.
When I think about the idea of celebrating children, I come back to the same question again and again: Why shouldn't an intentional choice be celebrated? When feminists talk about reproductive justice, it's often within the context of not just the ability to, say, have an abortion, but to raise a child the way you see fit, or to give birth on your own terms. The very notion that we should be in charge of our own bodies—that if possible, we shouldn't just wait for things to happen to us—is central to a conversation about rights, health, and justice. Don't you think intentionally opting out is worth a few streamers and noisemakers too?