From the day she got her first period, Olivia Downs has known that she does not want children.
And so, when the 22-year-old visited a new OB-GYN in June, she brought up the possibility of getting her tubes tied, also known as tubal ligation. Downs expected to be questioned about pursuing sterilization at such a young age but she did not ancipate a lecture about how she might “meet Mr. Right” and change her mind.
Her sardonic retelling of the appointment went viral on TikTok last month, amassing 3.4 million views. Thousands of people — including many like-minded women — flooded the comments to weigh in on whether 20-somethings should be eligible for the procedure.
“A lot of women are frustrated because they can’t seem to make decisions for themselves,” Downs told The Post.
Young women who declare they don’t want children have always faced pushback, but the US Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade, has forced Americans — and particularly women of childbearing age — to seriously consider how to manage their bodies as their reproductive rights and choices diminish.
Just one week after Roe was overturned, Google searches for female sterilization shot up, Newsweek reported.
For Downs, who attends college in Massachusetts and is wary of taking hormonal birth control due to the possible side effects, the Supreme Court’s decision has created additional urgency around getting the procedure done.
“It does kind of scare me a little bit,” she said of Justice Clarence Thomas’s majority opinion. “This is definitely something that I would want to get done sooner rather than later, considering the way this country is moving right now.”
Tubal ligation — in which the fallopian tubes are cut or tied — is one of several surgical sterilization procedures, including salpingectomy (removal of the fallopian tubes) and hysterectomy (removal of the uterus), that women can undergo for a multitude of health reasons and as a form of permanent birth control.
Janessa Puckett has been inquiring about a tubal ligation since she was 23 years old.
Now nearly 30, and living in Louisville, Kentucky — a state with an abortion trigger law — Puckett told The Post that she is angling to get the procedure done as soon as possible.
“I’m just one of many people for which the fire under our collective a– has been fanned in such a violent, visceral way,” she said.
Puckett works as a middle school English teacher and loves children but has never wanted her own. In fact, she said giving birth and being forced to be a parent are her biggest fears.
“I have all these life plans and getting pregnant would be the one thing that would mess all of that up,” she said. “Having a tubal ligation is a life necessity as far as ensuring that I continue living and can live the life I want to live.”
Men have also been been rushing to be sterilized and a recent study from the Pew Research Center found that 44% of adults claimed it is “not too likely or not likely” that they will have children someday.
Zaria Grey, 28, wants to get sterilized even though their partner already has had a vasectomy.
Grey (who uses they/them pronouns) lives in Columbus, Ohio with Lukas Killian, 27. Growing up as the eldest of five siblings living below the poverty line, Grey knew they did not want children from an early age.
The pharmacy technician told The Post that reading the Roe draft leak in May, and then hearing the official court decision “definitely added more pressure” on getting sterilized, as Ohio had a trigger law in place.
“I want to take care of my own birth control,” Grey said. “It’s definitely put a lot of fear in my heart that I have absolutely no control over my future. Even less on my body, especially being a Black woman living in America.”
Grey, who has been looking into getting their tubes tied since they were 23, said they never felt heard by doctors until they brought their partner, who is a white male nurse, along to an OB/GYN appointment. Grey has another doctor’s visit in a few weeks and has been practicing being “concise and confident … to have a solid proof case that this is what [I want].”
A recurring story among young women seeking tubal ligation is that they’re told they will regret the decision when they’re older. However, a recent study published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology medical journal found that only around 10% of women who have had their tubes tied subsequently requested information for a reversal.
Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz, the author of “Menopause Bootcamp” and OB/GYN who has been practicing in Los Angeles for 26 years, said that the recent Roe decision has sent waves of women to their gynecologists inquiring about sterilization. She believes that the vast majority of young women are well aware of the lasting implications of the procedure.
“This generation is a lot more aware of their bodies, aware of their autonomy, aware of their agency.”
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