Voluntary Sterilization: Is It Right?

| January 9, 2018

Usually when we hear about sterilization, the context is a harrowing tale of coercion in order to control certain groups of people, usually minorities.

Yet, recently in The New York Times I was surprised to find an opinion piece written by a woman arguing that doctors must perform sterilizations on women who request them, swallowing any reasonable, and common, objections they may have to these procedures. Her argument rests on the autonomy of a woman to decide what she wants to do to her body, and a feeling that to be denied certain medical procedures is a violation of freedom.

The argument of “I should be able to do whatever I want with my body” is one that echoes throughout contemporary culture, but to read it in the context of a medical treatment that is so invasive and so damaging is shocking. More than wonder whether the author had a point or not, I began to wonder about what the implications are that led to an article like this being written. Two questions came to mind.

First, when did people become so opposed to trusting their medical experts? We seem to live in a world where medical treatment is not recommended in order to make one better, but a demand or a commodity to suit our pleasures and wants. Instead of valuing the dignity of our bodies in their natural state, we see more and more arguments such as this perpetuated throughout culture. The human person is thought to be invincible and able to handle any procedure inflicted on it, and yet through these demands it seems the truth of how they affect the goodness of the body is cast aside. The increasing performance and acceptance of procedures like plastic surgery, hormone therapy, and sex change proves as much.

Second, when did women become so opposed to having children that they would decide in their 20s to permanently remove this possibility? In a culture that values change and fluidity, here we find the complete opposite—in fact, a complete denial of a woman’s ability to change her mind and define herself. With the innovation of technology aiding how we can treat hormonal issues, why turn to a procedure so foreign to young women with so much potential in their undetermined futures?

To evaluate the morals of a medical procedure is something that I will leave to the doctors and medical professionals. But it must be noted that the topic of sterilization for women continues to gain support from groups that support a childless-lifestyle. What we can do, as observers of culture, is note what changes in thought are influencing these shifts in the way that others view their lives, and start a discussion about these shifts. These topics are not random, but affect our families, the families around us, and the happiness of those in our society. Let’s not overlook them!