Sterilisation of young, competent, and childless adults
Is it ethical to sterilise a young woman who is determined she never wants children, even if there are no strong medical reasons to avoid pregnancy? Piers Benn and Martin Lupton discuss
A 26 year old woman presented to a general gynaecology clinic requesting sterilisation. She worked as the manager of a large legal practice in central London. She had never been pregnant. She was in a relationship that had lasted five years and her partner used condoms for contraception. At the age of 17 she had discovered that she had a serious congenital heart defect. Neither she nor her partner had any desire to have children, and they had spoken about this at some length.
The reasons she gave for requesting sterilisation were that she did not have faith in other forms of contraception; had no desire to have children; did not wish to change her lifestyle or threaten her financial status (she saw children as a financial burden); felt that children would prohibit many important life choices, including the opportunity to travel; thought the world was already burdened with enough