One Woman Tell Us Her Story Of Getting Her Tubes Tied After The Fall Of Roe V. Wade 

by Hayden Seder

I’ve never wanted kids. In my entire life, I’ve never felt the motherly urge that so many other girls did, the ones who pushed their baby dolls in strollers or came up with their kids’ names while still in high school. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve had boyfriends with whom I fantasized about a future together, but those futures never included children. 

As I progressed into my 20s, my mother and I would get into heated fights about the matter, as I insisted to her that I didn’t want children and never would. Her arguments, and everyone else’s who ever tried to convince me that I would actually want children, eventually, always followed the same, boring formula:

“You’ll change your mind!” 

“You just haven’t met the right guy yet!” 

“You’ll start to get the urge later.” 

But I have many reasons for not wanting kids, and in my 35 years, I have only become more certain that I never, ever, will want them. Beyond the fact that I don’t have the maternal instinct, I don’t actually like children. They somewhat appall me, turning me into that curmudgeonly woman who sneers at screaming babies on airplanes or at children running amok in clothing stores. My brother has a five-year-old daughter and, while I love her, I can truly only stand her in about two-hour increments. 

Next on my list of reasons to not want to have my own children is that there are already so many out there, so if I ever did decide to have one, I would simply adopt. Much like my feelings toward rescuing dogs from the shelter rather than contributing to the breeding of new dogs, I don’t really believe that anyone needs to have their own child aside from the egotistical desire to extend their bloodline or leave their “mark” on the world via their kid. I plan to leave my legacy in other ways.

Lastly, I was born with a rare disorder called epidermal nevus that, luckily for me, only ended up affecting the way my skin looks, giving the appearance that I have poison oak or rosacea on my body. But many others born with this disease are impacted in much more harrowing ways, such as suffering blindness, paralysis, or body malformations. Half of children born with this disease don’t live beyond two years old (at least, this was the statistic when I was born). And while I escaped these outcomes, any child I had biologically would very likely inherit this—a moot point, since I don’t want children anyway, but one that I always felt helped solidify my argument.

So why get my tubes tied? Just because I don’t want kids doesn’t mean I need to do something as drastic as voluntarily sterilizing myself. The thing is, I’ve always worried about getting pregnant and it being too late to get an abortion—so much so that for the last decade, I’ve had weekly stress dreams about this exact scenario—despite the fact that I’ve been on birth control since I was 15 years old and always reasoned that an abortion wouldn’t be that hard to get.

That is, until 2022, when abortion in my state of Idaho was completely banned. Like many other states in the country, Idaho had a trigger ban that took effect as soon as the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade. Even before the ban, Idaho wasn’t the easiest place to get an abortion. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2017, some 95 percent of Idaho counties had no clinics that provided abortions. Before 2022, Idaho law banned abortions after 22 weeks and had a detailed abortion-specific informed consent requirement—meaning that materials, often with graphic and inflammatory language, must be presented to the person seeking the procedure. In 2020, Governor Brad Little signed law S1385, a trigger law that would outlaw abortion when Roe v. Wade was finally overturned.

On August 25, 2022, that trigger ban was instituted, illegalizing abortion from fertilization, with exceptions made for rape, incest, or maternal health. Those who perform abortions may face two to five years of imprisonment. New “abortion trafficking” legislation, the first of its kind, was signed into law in April 2023, and makes it illegal to obtain abortion pills for a minor or to help them leave the state for an abortion without their parents’ knowledge or consent. 

Since the abortion ban, things have only gotten more dire for women’s health in Idaho. In September 2022, the University of Idaho issued a memo warning its employees against providing reproductive health counseling—including the dispensing of birth control. The memo was in response to a 2021 Idaho law that prohibits public funds from being used to “procure, counsel in favor, refer to, or perform an abortion.” As a state-funded institution, the university was attempting to navigate the newly illegal waters. “Standard birth control prescriptions can still be dispensed by workers at student health facilities…which are administered by Moscow Family Health and not the university. Condoms can be provided for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, the guidance said, but not as a method of birth control, under the law,” the Idaho Capital Sun reported.

Hearing about these rules and laws going into effect, I began to worry about my future access to birth control and abortion. Though I’m certainly in a more privileged place than others in that I can afford to travel out of state and stay in a hotel to procure an abortion, how much longer would that remain true? 

I decided to get ahead of things and booked a consultation for having a tubal ligation, the formal name for “having your tubes tied,” which is an out-of-date term since the tubes are no longer “tied” (sealed off)—they are now removed altogether, as the former method still resulted in occasional pregnancies. I was nervous going to the consultation; I had heard horror stories of women going for this same appointment and having the doctor request the presence or written consent of a male partner, or, in the absence of such a figure, the woman’s father. I had heard of pushback and the requirement to attend therapy before being allowed to make such a decision. I went to the appointment with my arguments ready, prepared to be chastised for making a decision at “so young an age,” though at 35, any pregnancy I had would already be considered a “geriatric” or “advanced maternal age” pregnancy.

I was shocked, then, when my male doctor, whom I’d never met before, simply informed me of how the procedure worked, asked if I was sure (without ever asking my reasons), and told me to book my appointment if I was ready. As someone who has had bad experiences with medical care, particularly in my small town, I was blown away by how chill the appointment was and how the doctor seemed to accept that I actually knew my own body and what I wanted. 

I certainly wasn’t the only one looking into tubal ligations as a method of long-term birth control in 2023. According to a peer-reviewed paper published by the Florida Medical Student Research Publications, Idaho is one of two states (the other being South Dakota) that had the greatest surge in tubal ligations and vasectomies in the wake of the overturn of Roe v. Wade. “People are seeing their options being taken away in Idaho, and seeing the measures that the government is willing to take in the state, and they are deciding to take control back over their bodies,” says Mack Smith, communications manager for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho and Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates Serving Idaho. “A lot of people are opting for longer-term birth control options while that is available to them.” 

I was ready to book the appointment right then and there but needed to check in with insurance first. I was told that the procedure was mostly covered, but I would still need to pay about $3,000 out of pocket—an amount I didn’t have. I put the idea on the back burner for a few months. Then I switched insurance and decided to see how much my new policy would cover. As it turned out, 100 percent, not even subject to deductible. I booked the surgery and had my pre-op appointment, where my doctor gave me my pre-surgery kit, which included a special soap and instructions for washing my body the night and morning before my surgery and a bottle of Ensure to drink on my way to surgery. He went over the procedure, explaining that it would be done laparoscopically, meaning he could access my fallopian tubes without having to make large incisions in the skin. He would make two small, roughly one-inch incisions on either side of my stomach (one over each fallopian tube) and remove the tubes, with the surgery taking about two hours total. 

Fast-forward to the day of my surgery. I had been fasting since the night before and recruited a friend to drop me off for my 6 a.m. check-in time, drinking my bottle of Ensure on the way. While I was excited to finally be getting this procedure done, I was also nervous and kind of scared; I had only ever had surgery and been hospitalized once before, almost two decades prior, when my appendix burst at age 16. I was all alone, without family or friends with me, and the cold, harshly lit environment of the hospital did little to assuage my fears. I had also decided not to tell either of my parents that I was having the procedure, lest my mother completely freak out and stop speaking to me, or my father tell her I was having it done. 

The pre-op nurses prepped me for surgery, giving me antibiotics via IV. The anesthesiologist, a good-looking man in his late 30s or early 40s, came in and asked if I had any questions or concerns. I told him I was afraid of being conscious during the surgery but unable to move. (What I actually said was that I was afraid of falling into a “k-hole.”) He told me that was something mostly depicted in TV and movies and that the odds of that happening were pretty much nil. I was wheeled into the operating room and slid from my bed to the table, with my arms being placed in a cross formation. They put the mask over my mouth, told me to breathe deeply, and seconds later, I was under.

I woke up in the recovery room, out of it but slowly coming to. The nurses were talking about a hike I’d been wanting to do, and I joined in the conversation, alerting them to my consciousness. I munched on ice chips and, after being wheeled back to my original room, was given an English muffin with peanut butter—salvation, since I’d been fasting. I didn’t have any pain and was able to get up and walk to the bathroom on my own—albeit slowly—and after about an hour in recovery, another friend was allowed to pick me up. The whole thing was done by 11 a.m. and I was given prescriptions for oxycodone and extra-strength ibuprofen, neither of which I ended up using. I went home and slept off the anesthesia for a few hours and then spent the day in bed, surprisingly doing work on my laptop since I felt so fine. I had some low-grade cramping and mild discomfort, but nothing that I hadn’t felt before while having my period. My only instructions for the week were not to exercise or lift more than 15 pounds. By the weekend, I was out with friends, camping and floating down a river.

It feels strange to know that I made an irreversible decision not to have children and am carrying this secret (though I’m happy to share it with anyone who asks, obviously). The minimally invasive procedure and the speedy recovery made it almost seem like nothing happened. I wonder if I’ll still be plagued by my anxiety dreams about pregnancy or if my body will know that it’s no longer a fear I’m beholden to. I’m proud of my decision and have told many (female) friends about it, a number of whom have asked about the procedure, the insurance costs, and so on, as they express their own interests in it. I’m comfortable talking about it because I feel that not having children should be just as open a subject as having them.

A few days after my surgery, I decided to tell my parents about the procedure. My mom said that she didn’t care that I’d done it; she was more worried that I’d had surgery without letting her know. She also maintained that she had never had any prior arguments with me about not having kids, but that’s neither here nor there. Her calm reaction surprised me and there were no tears or angry words about what I might regret. 

While I am single now and have no partner to weigh in on this decision, that might be something I’ll have to address down the line. Already, when I see a dating app profile that specifies that the guy wants children or has them, I automatically swipe no. 

Ultimately, getting my tubal ligation was the final argument against my not wanting children. Now, it is simply no longer an option.

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