Protesters march during an abortion-rights rally on June 25, 2022 in Austin, Texas.
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A women’s health clinic in Texas has received more than 100 requests for permanent sterilizations since Friday.
Tubal ligation is a common procedure that involves the removal of both fallopian tubes.
Dr. Tyler Handcock told Insider he expects even more requests in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
A women’s health clinic in Austin, Texas, has received dozens of requests for permanent sterilizations after Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that established a constitutional right to an abortion.
After the Women’s Health Domain closed on Friday evening for the weekend, it received 109 new patient requests, the majority of which were requesting tubal ligation, or permanent sterilization.
Dr. Tyler Handcock, an OB-GYN who runs the practice, told Insider he was in disbelief, as the clinic has only been open for about a month.
“I sense that they’re scared, they’re anxious, they’re nervous. They’re fearful that other rights are going to be taken away. Maybe they’re afraid contraception in general will be taken away down the road. So they want to take care of this now because they don’t feel like anybody is supporting them,” he said of his patients.
In the next few weeks, reproductive rights in Texas will drastically change. The state has a “trigger law” in place which means abortions will be banned from the moment of fertilization. This is set to go into effect 30 days after the Supreme Court’s judgment. While the trigger law prohibits prosecuting a person who undergoes an abortion, earlier this year, a 26-year-old Texan woman was charged with murder after a “self-induced abortion.”
Texas will also provide few exceptions to save the life of a pregnant person or prevent “substantial impairment of major bodily function” which is why more Americans in the state are weighing their reproductive health options.
From one or two requests to more than a hundred
Handcock said the majority of requests for tubal ligation ranged from people aged 20 to 30 years old. Prior to Friday, he said it was typical for the clinic to receive one to two requests related to this procedure per week.
Tubal ligation is a common procedure that involves the removal of both fallopian tubes. The benefits of it are nearly zero ectopic pregnancies – when a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the womb – and it can also decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.
The surgery consists of a small, five-millimeter laparoscopic incision, but Handcock said it requires complex counseling prior to the operation because it is not reversible.
“The biggest risk is the risk of regret,” he told Insider.
Because of this, Handcock said his clinic has numerous conversations with patients about the procedure, even asking them on the day of surgery if they’re sure they want to have it.
“If we have a patient who’s 25 years old and wants to get permanent birth control, well, that’s all fine. Let’s talk about it and let’s go over your options. It’s safe, it’s ethical, it’s legal, but there is a risk of regret. And the younger you are, the higher that risk of regret is obviously,” he said.
The procedure is covered by Medicare and Medicaid and anyone above the age of 21 can access it.
“I think that if it’s happening here, that means it’s happening everywhere else.”
In response to the influx of requests, Handcock said the practice will do its best to accommodate all of the requests by working longer hours and holding group appointments to see as many patients as it can.
Handcock is anticipating more requests and believes other clinics like his are fielding numerous calls about this procedure.
“I think that if it’s happening here, that means it’s happening everywhere else. Red or blue, I think that people are scared because under it all, this is a human rights issue that’s been taken away. And I think people truly are fearful for other human rights being eroded, whether it’s minority rights, gay rights. I think we’re all at risk.” he told Insider.
The majority of patients Handcock typically sees who want permanent sterilization have already had children and are done with childbearing but he anticipates this changing in light of the Supreme Court’s decision.
“I think it’s going to be a huge shift with this thunderous change in our society as of Friday, where we’re going to see patients who have never had kids request permanent sterilization,” he said. “And I think that’s okay. I’m an advocate for them as well.”