‘It’s my body and I want sterilisation but doctors have refused twice’

Heather Baker has been denied sterilisation twice by doctors. Picture: Heather Baker

Heather Baker has been denied sterilisation twice by doctors. Picture: Heather Baker - Credit: Archant

A Norwich patient who was twice denied sterilisation has hit out at the lack of awareness over not wanting children.

Heather Baker, who identifies as non-binary, has always known that they would never want children and at a 18 decided to be sterilised.

They researched online and found people who had been through the procedure, but it was an account by an American blogger that struck the 25-year-old. The blog said "I should have done it years ago."

From that moment Heather was "spurred on" and realised they had "wanted sterilisation for a long time and didn't want to wait anymore".

An appointment was booked at their local surgery in March and Heather said they were feeling excited and confident in finding what was best for them.

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But during the appointment the doctor laughed at the suggestion.

Heather said: "When she laughed I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I thought she was surprised or nervous. But the laughing continued throughout."

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To Heather's shock, the first question the doctor asked was: "What does your partner think?". Heather said: "It's completely irrelevant whether or not I have a partner. Why would it matter? It's my body."

But the doctor continued to refuse to allow them to have the procedure in case they changed their mind.

Heather reported the experience to the practice manager and was given a referral to hospital in May. But they said that appointment was "much worse."

The doctor again asked about a partner and said: "What if you marry a man who wants children?"

Heather felt "patronised" and "angry", and said: "There is a expectation that you should follow the traditional route - school, university, career and then marriage and children. I have absolutely nothing against that choice and I fully support those who follow that path but for some people it isn't right for them. And the same support isn't given for those who don't."

Once again Heather was refused the procedure by the doctor who allegedly said: "We take an oath to do no harm".

Heather said: "How dare she smile and tell me she'd taken an oath to do no harm, while I told her that not allowing me agency over my own body was doing me harm? It's taking a toll on my mental and physical health."

When Heather protested they were offered an appointment with another doctor in September this year. Heather accepted the appointment and said: "I love the NHS but I can no longer trust the system."

They have started to look into a private procedure but it costs £6,000. Heather said that they could not afford the sum but will save as a last resort.

They said: "I've jumped through so many hoops and the whole experience has been humiliating and frustrating.

"I know I am not alone."

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