by Jenn Giroux
The Obama Administration is mandating that all insurance providers provide free FDA approved birth control methods to women as well as permanent sterilization procedures. Besides the documented physical harm that hormonal birth control and sterilization does to a woman’s body, there is also another effect that it has which often carries a much higher cost: emotional pain and regret. The department of Health and Human Services ignores the post contraceptive regrets of women who later mourn the children they willingly prevented. Below is one woman’s powerful story of the profound regret that came after being offered permanent sterilization by her physician. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), by age 45, at least one partner in every two marriages in the U.S has been sterilized.
Dear Medical Provider:
I am writing this personal story and presenting it to you in an effort to heal some deep emotional wounds. I pray it helps you also. You see, when I was 29 I was pregnant with my third child. This was a blessed and wonderful time in my life. During an appointment you brought up the option of permanent sterilization after delivery. I honestly had never even considered it. But, there it was. I brought the pamphlet home and presented it to my husband. He responded “well, if the doctor thinks it’s best.” Obviously, we are easily influenced. Nothing was mentioned again until a few hours after the delivery of my beautiful baby girl. You missed the delivery but flew into the room exclaiming “so, we are doing a tubal, right?”
I was shocked. I had not given it much thought. I was not in a state of mind to understand the full depth of what that meant. I was thinking the whole time of another child. I know you sensed that. You reassured me it was permanent. At that time I could not fully comprehend what that meant. Then, you said something as you left the room that has painfully echoed and haunted my thoughts for years. I heard you mumble “I’ll do the most reversible type.” I still do not know what that meant. How could something be permanent and reversible at the same time? I did not fully understand what was happening.
Before I knew it, the procedure was done. I realized the next day that I did not want this procedure to be permanent. I always wanted more children. I had hopes and dreams of a larger family. I found it difficult to articulate that. Large families are not “popular” in today’s world. I acted in fear of being judged. Who was I to go against the social norms? It seems there is an unwritten social standard that says family sizes of 2 or 3 is “normal.” This misconception set up by media and a popular social agenda is standard, but not necessarily right or even remotely good for us. I was guilty of buying into this agenda.
Now it has been 7 years since the tubal. I have wanted it reversed since the day that it was done. I realize more than ever that you did me no favors. The tubal cost us 30$ . It was the worst money I ever spent. The mental and emotional turmoil of self-induced infertility has been beyond difficult. I have cried and grieved the loss of that part of myself for years. I realized that my fertility was a very special gift. Fertility was very much a part of who I was. It defined me as a woman. On a very deep level, fertility was essential to my mental and emotional health. It influenced my relationships with my husband, children, co-workers and friends. Without it I suffered and my marriage suffered the greatest of all to the point where my husband and I sought counseling. The counselor looked at me and recognized that I was grieving. It was then that I realized that he was right. I WAS grieving!. I was grieving the loss of my fertility. Seven years later at age 35 I was able to have a reversal. The procedure cost $11,200.That was the best money ever spent. The procedure was healing beyond explanation…I was WHOLE again. I truly felt the mercy and love of God!
Through this entire experience valuable lessons have been learned. We live in a society where we have separated love from life. However, I have learned that this misguided compassion is not in the best health interest of any person.
My challenge for you as a medical provider is to go back to treating the whole person. To treat their fertility as a part of who they are. Not something to be controlled or practiced. Fertility is a central part of being male or female and is a sacred part of the marriage union. When fertility is taken away you deny something very sacred to a person and to that marriage union. Do not be so quick to take that gift away.
My second challenge to you is to learn more about the whole truth of human sexuality through Pope John Paul’s Theology of the Body. This is a very truthful study of who we are as persons. God always has our best health interests in mind. God knows us in a more truthful, meaningful, and healing way than we know ourselves. God truly has you and your patient’s best interests in mind. If you are willing to take that a step farther learn more about NFP and help those who use this method. Many couples are choosing natural alternatives to family planning and they need your support.
Through all this I have come to realize that when I am fearful of being judged I am missing the point. There is no fear in love. We are called to love ourselves and one another; for God is love. When I am fearful I realize that I am more afraid of what others might think than doing what God desires. I have to remind myself that God is love. Fear does not come from God. Fear comes from popular often harmful world views and my hesitancy to soar beyond them to find the truth. For there is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, so one who fears is not yet perfect in love 1John 4:18. I have found that if I look to the love of God and seek his truth instead of trying what is popular or what my colleagues are doing I am more satisfied, more fulfilled, more content and more loved. Then I have nothing to fear.
I pray this helps as you consider the challenge to change your practice.
I also want you to know that I have forgiven you. I hope you can learn something from this personal testimony. I pray it encourages you to consider how you care for your patients.
Through the love of Christ we welcomed one more soul into our family.
Our blessed baby boy arrived May 29th 2009. He brings true joy to all who meet him.
May the Love of Christ touch the hearts of all who have shared this story with me. May it help you to understand and embrace the truth found in the love of God.
Michele Brown and her husband are now expecting their second child after her successful tubal ligation reversal in 2008. Michele hopes her story will provide a helpful insight for other women who are considering sterilization. (Re-printed with permission.)