Christen Reighter, a poet, essayist, and activist, delivered a talk on sterilization for TED, which covers her own experience in obtaining the elective procedure, and the overwhelming stigma she faced in her journey.
From an early age, Reighter felt the societal pressure put on her as a woman to have children, and the expectation that she should want to have them in order to feel fulfilled. When she tried to explain to the adults around her that she didn't have any desire to be a mother, they often laughed it off, and told her she'd one day change her mind. Reighter didn't change her mind, but she continued to be barraged with invasive questions from those who simply couldn't understand her choice. Although women choose to abstain from motherhood for a wide range of different reasons, many still feel justified in shaming them for their personal choices.
When researching elective sterilization, Reighter quickly learned how difficult it really was for many women to have the procedure, due to a lack of financial resources, outright refusals from biased doctors, and a blatant level of disrespect that prevented them from accessing it. Despite meeting all the requirements needed to have the surgery, Reighter still had to battle for her bodily autonomy, and she noticed that the information being given to her was incredibly biased, and utilized inflated statistics as a means to frighten her out of moving forward with her educated decision.
Throughout her talk on sterilization, Reighter highlights the different ways that patriarchal power still affects access to healthcare for consenting women through a different lens, shows how a doctor can make personal decisions for women based on their skewed perceptions of their motivations, and reviews how women's roles are still heavily policed in modern society.
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