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Coercion in the U.K.: One Mother’s Story

Editor’s Note: There is an anti-natal bias built into most government-run health care programs. Sterilization and contraception are seen by administrators as cheap, cost-effective ways of avoiding the expenses associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Overworked doctors “encourage” women in this direction, and pressures during labor and delivery can be intense. The long-term benefits to society of additional people are completely ignored. From time to time we are sent stories such as the following account, written by an English woman who wishes to remain anonymous.

I just thought I’d share with you that in 1979 I was a National Health Patient at Rutherglen Maternity. Now shut down, at the time it was a very new and state-of-the-art maternity hospital. I was pregnant with my sixth child. The doctor — speaking from behind a screen, before he saw me — suggested that I be sterilized after this delivery. When I declined his offer, he became angry. He told the medic who was trying to a get a blood sample from my arm to leave. He would get the blood himself, he said. He tied the tubing so tightly around my arm that I cried out. He stuck my arm, and moved the needle about in such a way that there was blood all over the gurney.

When he finished, he told me to see him in his office. He had a picture behind his desk of his wife and three children. He explained that he had sterilized his wife after their third child, that it was a painless procedure, and that I had nothing to fear.

I told him that I was shocked that he didn’t volunteer to have a vasectomy — a simpler procedure — rather than perform a tubal ligation on his wife.

He responded that he didn’t believe in vasectomies because they affect men’s emotional and mental health.

When I still declined to consider sterilization he became angry with me. “The country can’t afford people like you,” he blurted out.

This was too much for me. “They can’t afford not to afford people like me,” I countered. “It will be my children who will take care of the likes of you when you are old. And it will be my grandchildren who will be footing the bill for your National Health because you are too selfish to have more children. And it will be my children, and the children of people like me, who will be pushing you in your wheelchair in the nursing home.”

Finally he fumed and asked me if I knew how much pollution one child creates? I suggested that he would help the situation when he checked out of planet earth.

He slammed his notebook closed and that was that. I left, only to find one of the Green Ladies [an Irish nurse’s aide] had been listening at the door. “He will get you now,” she said.

“How will he ‘get me,’” I asked.

“When you come to the hospital in labor,” she replied, “you will be put on a fetal monitor. You will be told that there is ‘fetal distress.’ Then you’ll be taken to the delivery room for a cesarean section. They will tie your tubes without your knowing about it.”

This was a common practice, she went on. Most women never questioned why they never got pregnant again. “And they bury their mistakes,” she cautioned.

I was so disturbed by what she said that when my time came I checked into a home for unwed mothers, St. Francis Nursing Home, as an outpatient. It was there, along with the babies of the young unmarried girls, that I delivered my son.

My family has known of this story for years, but I don’t know how to get this information out. But to think that these abuses are only happening in third world countries is sad. It is happening here, and it has been for a long time.

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