PODCAST: Doctors still won’t let women choose sterilization as a permanent birth control method

Ever since Brie Ripley was young, she knew she didn’t want to reproduce. But despite her struggles with other birth control methods, doctors refused to allow her access to a tubal ligation procedure. And she’s not alone — it’s extremely difficult for women to choose sterilization as a permanent form of birth control.

Tie My Tubes is a forthcoming radio documentary, co-produced by Jocelyn Macdonald and Brie Ripley, that follows Brie’s story, also looking at the broader issue of sterilization — both voluntary and forced — and explores the reasons why it’s so difficult for women to access tubal ligation.

In this episode, I speak with Brie and Jocelyn about their project and about the barriers to real reproductive freedom.

To learn more and to find out how to hear the documentary, visit Tie My Tubes: A Radio Documentary on Facebook.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • therealcie

    By the time my cousin was 21 years old, she had two children. She went to the Planned Parenthood clinic to find out about tubal litigation and was told she had to either be 24 or have four children.
    “And you wonder why we have an overpopulation problem and so many people on welfare!” she replied.
    As she came outside, one child holding her hand, the other in her accompanying friend’s arms, she flipped the anti-choice protesters outside the clinic the bird.
    My cousin loves both of her children and chose to have them. She was rightfully enraged that she was unable to make the choice to insure that she wouldn’t have more, and rightfully enraged at those who wish to take away a woman’s reproductive options.

    • Cassandra

      That is absolutely appalling. Few issues enrage me like this one — that’s there’s any question at all whether women should have complete and total control over their own reproductive systems. It’s barbaric.

  • skilletblonde

    Unbelievable. You can make the decision to transition from male to female or female to male before adolescence. But a young woman who chooses to not bare children is denied reproduction sterilization.

    • Barb Levesque

      Very good comparison! I guess all you have to claim is dysphoria.

  • Meghan Murphy

    Right. It’s like if a woman can’t reproduce her life will be forever ruined. This seems, to me, to just play into the idea that women can only truly feel fulfilled through motherhood and childbirth.

  • Pod0riji7

    This is some low quality bait.

  • MissM

    Thank you so much for this podcast. It’s so rare for those of us who are uninterested in having children to be really represented. I was saddened to hear of Brie’s issues with various forms of contraception, and it’s always crazy to me that so many doctors won’t provide tubal ligation to young women without children. We know our bodies and we know ourselves. These are our decisions. If we do miraculously change our minds, there are other options for child rearing, including adoption, that are equally fulfilling.

  • Bimbleby

    The strangest thing about this debate, to me, is that no one (well, few people) argues that we should be putting this much scrutiny on people’s decision to -have- children. Surely that’s a bigger choice? And if you live to regret that choice there is a lot less you can do about it than you can about sterilisation, and you have a new life you have responsibility for.

    You can bring a child into the world with absolutely no assessment of your motivations, your likely capabilities as a parent, your stability… but you have to be scrutinised if you want to make a far, far less significant choice… I don’t get it.

    (I’m not saying we should be assessing people before they can have children, btw, obviously that would go badly…)

  • Meghan Murphy

    What are all her other options?

    • Moderight

      How do you mean?
      In the job, medication, partner part, or in a “she tried all the medications and doesn’t like them, what other options does she have” sort of thing?

      • Meghan Murphy

        “There’s so many other options for not getting pregnant” — like what?

        • Moderight

          Well, let’s start with what Brie used:
          A) Birth Control pills
          B) Plan B
          C) Depo-Provera
          D) Nuva-ring
          E) Birth Control patches
          F) Mirena IUD
          G) condoms (for guy)
          H) Nexplanon
          I) Pull-out method (Not effective)

          Now, for the other options of birth control she didn’t try:
          J) Diaphragm
          K) Contraceptive sponge
          L) spermicide
          M) Cervical Cap
          N) Female condoms

          Other options without items:
          O) Fertility charting
          P) Outercourse (69ing and whatnot)
          Q) Abstinence
          R) COMBO IT UP!!! Condom for man, condom for woman (and maybe a diaphragm), have the fertility chart mapped out, huge helping of spermicide, and outercourse should you want a realistic feeling

          My honest opinion, she hasn’t had a kid so far. She’s doing something right.I’d suggest (if she’s looking to remain sexually active), she try other types of birth control pills to see if any work with her medication. If not, stick with getting a box of female condoms, spermicide, and a big ol’ Plan B pill.

          I’m not against sex, women having it, or birth control. These are all completely valid options for contraception. And thanks to modern medicine, there’s a lot of options that we can even rotate on. But having sex without getting pregnant is going to have a cost. And it’s easier, safer, and much less life-changing to use an item or a pill or a ring, than to forever sterilize yourself.

  • Moderight

    Not sure what a laproscopy has to do with sterilization, but whatever. Laproscopy checks for illness and medical problems, and sterilization (here) is so Brie can have sex without using birth control.

    As for the damage from birth control damage, I’ve made a comprehensive list of all birth control options (many of them less invasive and without surgery or synthetic hormones) which one could use if they choose. Female condoms, diaphragms, spermicide, caps, and scheduling are a few options. So there you go.

    It’s funny how you claim I’m predicting “future stranger’s lives.” I’m the one telling ya’ll that sterilizing yourself is bad because you CAN’T predict what future you will want.
    I honestly think that someone claiming “I don’t want kids, so I’ll forever damage my body” is probably the one trying to predict the future the most.