When tubal ligation is a human right

Women have told me they can’t even find a doctor to perform a tubal ligation. And they say that Planned Parenthood can’t do it, because this is an inpatient procedure.

And this is in the supposedly liberal San Francisco Bay Area.

And it is in sharp contrast to my own experience over twenty years ago when I sought and obtained a vasectomy. I was 24 years old, my doctor said I was a little young but, following a couple appointments, performed the procedure in his office, in Selma, California, a small town in relatively conservative central California.

So now I read this about a woman who was denied a tubal ligation in Canada by a Catholic hospital:

Leann Gunther lodged the complaint, alleging St. Elizabeth’s Hospital [in Humboldt, Saskatchewan] had discriminated against her on the basis of gender and religion by denying a public service. The [Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission] announced Thursday that the hospital has paid Gunther $7,875 as compensation. The settlement means there will be no hearing before a tribunal.

But in the United States, it is okay for pharmacists to deny emergency contraception when it conflicts with their own personal moral views. In the United States, the right to make moral decisions seems tilt in favor of using a woman’s body for nine months, for purposes other than her own, at the same time that we continue to promulgate the rape myths that fuel men’s sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.

Perhaps more significantly, this right tilts in favor of allowing people in positions of power to impose their own moral judgments on others.

“What is a woman supposed to do in rural America, in places where there may only be one pharmacy?” asked Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, which is launching a campaign today to counter the trend. “It’s a slap in the face to women.”

By the time Suzanne Richards, 21, finally got another pharmacy to fill her morning-after pill prescription — after being rejected by a drive-through Brooks Pharmacy in Laconia, N.H., one late Saturday night in September — the 72 hours had long passed.

“When he told me he wouldn’t fill it, I just pulled over in the parking lot and started crying,” said Richards, a single mother of a 3-year-old who runs her own cleaning service. “I just couldn’t believe it. I was just trying to be responsible.”

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