A 30-year-old woman has spoken about her four-year-battle with the NHS to be sterilised, revealing her frustration at being told she was "too young to take such a drastic decision."
Holly Brockwell, a technology journalist from London, said she had asked for the procedure since she was 26 but her GP kept refusing to give her a referral.
However Brockwell has now been put on the list for surgery, which will take place later this year.
Her choice has raised some eyebrows and provoked some negative comments, particularly after she appeared on This Morning this week to talk about her fight to be sterilised.
"It's something I've wanted for years, but that doesn't mean it was an easy decision to make," Brockwell wrote in The Telegraph. "It's one I’ve researched, considered, weighed-up and defended, over and over again. Not everyone who chooses to have kids can say the same — but then they're not questioned and belittled repeatedly.
"I have been. The comments are always the same, whether from strangers, friends or medical professionals," she continued. "When someone hears my decision, they tend to assume I've made a snap judgement and have only just thought of it, without considering the implications."
On This Morning Brockwell was asked why the NHS should pay for her "lifestyle choice" — a ridiculous question that she handled extremely well. "Having children is a lifestyle choice," she pointed out. "Both should be equally respected, surely? Why is one more OK than the other?"
"It's going to save the NHS money, it's actually cheaper than contraception and cheaper than treating the side effects," she continued. "It's cheaper than actually having a child on the NHS, it's cheaper than having IVF and all sorts of other things that the NHS offers. In the long term it will save them money."
Brockwell, who is in a relationship with boyfriend Zack, also revealed that she has "tried every form of the Pill" and currently takes one with a dose of hormones so high it makes her vomit and puts her at increased risk of blood clots.
Brockwell has had to endure some particularly vicious trolling on social media. Some people suggest she's pursuing the operation because it will benefit her career as a journalist. One person said they were "happy she hadn't reproduced" and "pleased there won't be any more people like [her] on the planet."
Her choice has been called "ridiculous" and "weird." Another common response is that she's somehow being unfair by pursuing a sterilisation when so many women who want children are unable to conceive.
Brockwell's experience is a reminder of how society treats women who don't want to have children. As she says, "Can you imagine a woman in their late twenties having to go to a doctor over and over again to beg permission to have a baby?"
That's what she's had to go through to get sterilised and with the added judgement and abuse (from people who don't even know her) to top it off.
"Yes, sterilisation is drastic: a big, irreversible, serious decision," said Brockwell. "But so is having a child. And I'd like to see the day when both choices are respected equally."
According to the NHS, female sterilisation is a "permanent method of contraception" that involves blocking the women's fallopian tubes so her eggs cannot travel down to be fertilised. It's either done with clips or an implant and can cause some discomfort afterwards. It is more than 99 percent effective and can be difficult to reverse.
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