Sterilization abuse

Women who are poor or non-white, who do not speak English, or who have some form of disability or hereditary disease may feel pressured by society or their families to be sterilized. If you are being pressured to have a tubal ligation or other procedure that makes you infertile, be aware of your rights.

In the United States, many surgeons and hospitals follow federal rules for all women who ask for sterilization surgery. These requirements include:

  • Use of a standardized written consent form for a woman to fill out and sign herself.
  • Explanation in her own language, read out loud and in writing, of other birth control options and the risks, side effects, and permanence of sterilization. An interpreter should be used if the woman does not speak English.
  • A waiting period of 30 days after a woman signs the consent form (except with premature delivery or emergency abdominal surgery), to give her a chance to change her mind. (Women with private insurance may have a shorter waiting period, or none at all.)
  • A rule against using the removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) for sterilization purposes only.

Medical or other social aid cannot be withheld from a woman who refuses to be sterilized.

Last Updated: May 22, 2008

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