A 30-year-old journalist has been sterilised after what she describes as a “four-year battle with the NHS” to have the procedure done.
Holly Brockwell, the founder of women’s tech website Gadgette, initially asked her GP about having the operation when she was 26. But doctors repeatedly told her she was “too young” to consider having her tubes tied.
But four years on, and after dealing with vitriolic online abuse when she spoke out about wanting to be sterilised, she has had the operation and has hit out at her detractors.
Speaking to The Independent, Ms Brockwell said: “A lot of the backlash seems to be related to my gender. Some people find it very hard to swallow that a woman might want to be in control of her body and her future, and this is something we see in every area of life, from abortion rights to workplace discrimination.
The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
The world's 15 most powerful women in 2015
1/15 Angela Merkel - German Chancellor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has retained her number one ranking for topping this year’s Forbes list for the fifth consecutive year and ten times in total.
2/15 Hillary Clinton - Presidential candidate, United States
Clinton, who could become the world’s most powerful leader in 2016, has been featured on the list every year since it launched in 2014.
3/15 Melinda Gates - Cochair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Melinda Gates has cemented her dominance in philanthropy and global development to the tune of $3.9 billion in giving in 2014 and more than $33 billion in grant payments since she founded the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband in 2000.
4/15 Janet Yellen - Chair, Federal Reserve, Washington, United States
Janet Yellen made history in 2014 when she became the first female head of the Federal Reserve.
5/15 Marry Barra - CEO of General Motors
Mary Barra made history by becoming the first female CEO of General Motors.
6/15 Christina Lagarde - Managing director, International Monetary Fund
Christine Lagarde is entering the last year of her first term heading the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the organisation which serves as economic advisor and backstop for 188 countries. Under Lagarde the IMF has supported efforts to increase female labor force participation as way to reduce poverty and inequality. The UK, Germany, China, France and Korea have endorsed Christine Lagarde for another term as the head of the IMF.
7/15 Dilma Rousseff - President, Brazil
Dilma Rousseff, who has been elected in 2010, is Brazil's first female president.
8/15 Sheryl Sandberg - COO of Facebook
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of bestseller “Lean In,” joined the company in 2008 and became the first woman on its board four years later. Sandberg helped the social network go public and expand digital revenue.
9/15 Susan Wojcicki - CEO of Youtube
Susan Wojcicki is CEO of YouTube, the world’s most popular digital video platform used by over a billion people across the globe. She oversees YouTube's content and business operations, engineering, and product development.
10/15 Michelle Obama - First lady, United States
Michelle Obama, the 44th first lady of the United States has focused her attention on issues such as the support of military families, helping working women balance career and family and encouraging national service.
11/15 Park Geun-hye - President, South Korea
Park Geun-hye is the first female leader of a country that has the highest level of gender inequality in the developed world. In her inauguration speech, she promised to prioritise both national security and economic revitalisation.
12/15 Oprah Winfrey - Actress, Director/Producer, Entrepreneur, Personality, Philanthropist
Oprah Winfrey, a former queen of daytime TV has proven she can thrive without a talkshow. Her 'The Life You Want' tour sold out stadiums from Newark to Seattle in 2014.
13/15 Ginni Rometty - CEO of IBM
Ginni Rometty joined IBM in 1981 and later became the first woman to lead the company.
14/15 Meg Whitman - CEO of Hewlett-Packard
Meg Whitman is the only woman to have headed two large U.S. public companies: eBay and Hewlett-Packard.Until Marissa Mayer's arrival at Yahoo, she was the only female head of a leading Internet-based company.
15/15 Indra Nooyi - CEO of PepsiCo
Indra Nooyi is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo. Mrs. Nooyi leads one of the world’s largest convenient food and beverage companies, with 2008 annual revenues of more than $43 billion.
“Many, many people have suggested that I shouldn't have sex if I'm not intending to reproduce, which is an opinion so old that I can see the cobwebs. No one says ‘just cross your legs’ to men wanting a vasectomy.
“Yes, the men’s operation is cheaper and more reversible, but that's no excuse for the judgmental comments women receive when they ask about sterilisation.
“Sadly, I know from experience that those comments can come from healthcare professions as well as friends, family and strangers. I don't know of many men who've been told they're ‘broken’ or ‘heartless’, or that they’re a ‘waste of life’.”
Ms Brockwell said she hoped that her successful campaign to be sterilised would help other young women who do not want to have children to come forward and be taken seriously.
“I'd like to see women respected and listened to when they ask about sterilisation,” she said.
“No one takes a permanent, painful operation lightly, and while it's the doctor's responsibility to make sure it's the right thing for the patient, a blanket ‘no’ with no discussion isn't helpful to anyone.”
She stressed she was not against other people starting a family, saying she did not want to become a “sort of figurehead for anti-parenting diatribes".
“I'm not against people having children, whether biologically or by IVF or by adoption," Ms Brockwell said. "I have huge respect for parents and their right to choose to have kids, and they've supported my choice in return."