Woman who 'never wanted children' wins NHS sterilisation battle after four years

'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,' Holly Brockwell says

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The Independent Online

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.

“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."

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