Olivia Downs, a 22-year-old orthodontic assistant and neuroscience student in Springfield, Massachusetts, recently underwent a traumatic and harrowing experience: Someone told her “no.”
In this case, she claims that a female gynecologist firmly and repeatedly denied her request for a tube-tying operation, citing as a reason the possibility that she might change her mind upon meeting “Mr. Right.” This sensible and doubtless well-intentioned advice so shocked Downs that she did what any conscientious young woman would do—she reenacted the whole consultation on TikTok in a post that subsequently went viral.
Tube-tying, or tubal ligation, is an invasive medical procedure that is intended to render a woman sterile by simply making it impossible for a sperm cell to reach a woman’s egg; the catch, however, is that the procedure can be very difficult if not impossible to reverse. In other words, it’s effectively permanent.
During her sarcastic TikTok reenactment, in which she comes off as rather petulant, Downs claimed that the gynecologist she consulted consistently negatived her request, citing its permanency, and provided her with information on an intrauterine device (IUD). The TikTok post quickly exceeded 2.1 million views, racking up over 460,000 likes and over 7,000 comments in short order.
@lvdwns Got the death sentence today #childfree #gyno #birthcontrol #ewkidsaregross ♬ original sound – Olivia Downs
Downs, in an interview with Fox News, said she was shocked that the video had resonated with people so much.
“Honestly, I was shocked this video went viral,” she explained. “I sort of posted it as a joke and didn’t expect it to go anywhere, but it blew up.”
“I didn’t realize how big of an issue this was or how many women have been in a similar situation, and their frustrations—so it’s been really eye-opening, honestly,” she added.
Downs went on to explain that she’d heard all the criticisms, including that women are “lazy and immature” or are “wasting our privilege” for not having kids. But Downs disagrees.
“Even if someone did change their minds after the procedure, there are always options like getting it reversed, IVF, or surrogacy,” she observed. “Not to mention adoption. There are tons of children in our foster care system waiting to be adopted into a stable home, and it’s such a wonderful alternative.”
Downs also explained what she felt was the most important takeaway from her whole experience.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned from this experience is that it’s bigger than just wanting a ‘child-free lifestyle.’ It’s about taking women’s requests seriously,” she said. “The argument that we ‘don’t know what we want’ or ‘might meet Mr. Right’ and change our minds is so insulting. Plus, he wouldn’t be ‘Mr. Right’ if he wanted kids.”
Downs observed that she realized at age 13 that children wouldn’t be in her future, and has stood by that decision ever since. She’s also upset that most people in her life do not support her decision, questioning its wisdom. Furthermore, she feels it’s a “backward practice” to show greater concern for a potential life “over the wishes of a woman who is already alive.”
“The idea that a woman’s only purpose is to become a mother is an extremely outdated and honestly insulting one,” she added. “To put a woman’s value solely on that is so sad and disheartening for women who are unable to conceive. We are worth more than our ability to reproduce. We are still functioning parts of society.”
“Overall,” Downs explained, “I just think it shouldn’t be such a struggle to get a procedure like this done. Women shouldn’t have to ‘doctor shop’ in order to find a provider that will take them seriously.”
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