Is 27 too young to make an irreversible decision about your fertility? Brittany Shoot, author of a recent, controversial Salon.com article, didn't think so. Ever since the age of 7, Shoot swore up and down that she never ever wanted kids. Twenty years later, despite dirty looks from doctors and snide comments from friends, she was voluntarily sterilized.
I'm also 27 and have yet to become a mother. While kids aren't for me right now, they definitely factor into my plan down the road. I remember a time when I said I didn't want them at all (likely around my precocious adolescence, when I also made the regrettable decision to opt out of having a bat mitzvah, on the basis that I was then Agnostic). I also remember a time when I said I wasn't sure.
But as I've gotten older, I've changed my mind. And I have plenty of friends who are 26, 28, 30, 33, who aren't necessarily sure or ready right now ... but even if they're nearly positive that they're content to always be a doting aunt and never a mother, they figure there's a slight chance they may want to push a stroller someday. So they stick to condoms, birth control pills, or for a longer-term, hormone-free solution, the copper-T Paragard IUD.
But Shoot was sick of hearing about that potential, itty-bitty chance that she might change her mind. I don't blame her. She writes that doctors wagged their fingers at her, while friends told her she was selfish and ignorant. I agree that it isn't right for any of these people to pass judgment on Shoot's personal health, fertility, and future.
Society is constantly offering up advice and commenting on women's personal reproductive health. Everyone seems to have an opinion on what kind of childbirth, birth control, or even yeast infection treatment is superior. When it comes to making a personal decision about our reproductive health, extra information and knowledge is always welcome, but judgment is just plain unnecessary.
The thing is, Shoot could have shrugged it off, used a non-hormonal form of birth control (she said that synthetic hormones caused her migraines), and left the window cracked ever-so-slightly should she someday change her mind. But instead, it seems like she got so fed up with others' "rude remarks and disbelief" that she may have chosen to become sterilized as an act of defiance.
In the end, I truly hope that she's 100 percent happy with her decision for every remaining day of her life. But I can't help but wonder if she will change her mind. Her "pat answers" about why she did this -- lack of maternal instinct, low pain tolerance, and concerns about overpopulation -- may not be as relevant to her in a few years. Then, is it possible she could wonder, "What if?"
What do you think -- is 27 too young to become permanently sterilized?
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