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A Defence of Voluntary Sterilisation / Paddy McQueen

Res Publica

Swansea University Author: Paddy, McQueen

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Abstract

Many women request sterilization, to ensure that they do not have any (more) children. However, their requests are often denied by doctors. Given the importance of reproductive control, can these denials be justified? In answering this question, I examine the main reasons for a denied sterilisation...

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Published in: Res Publica
ISSN: 1356-4765 1572-8692
Published: 2019
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa51891
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Abstract: Many women request sterilization, to ensure that they do not have any (more) children. However, their requests are often denied by doctors. Given the importance of reproductive control, can these denials be justified? In answering this question, I examine the main reasons for a denied sterilisation request: that the woman is too young, that she is childfree, that she will later regret her decision, and that it will lower her well-being. I argue that these worries are unwarranted and do not justify withholding sterilisation from decision-competent women. Such women should have their requests agreed to, even if they are young and/or childfree. I also consider how attitudes toward, and requests for, sterilisation are shaped by the patient’s identity. Of particular importance is the pronatalist rationale that equates women with motherhood, which can make it unjustifiably difficult for certain women to access sterilisation.
Keywords: Autonomy; Contraception; Medical ethics; Pronatalism; Regret; Reproductive control; Sterilisation
College: College of Arts and Humanities