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Hastings Center News

After Roe: “Ethically Unjustifiable” Waiting Period for Female Sterilization

The current Medicaid-mandated sterilization waiting period for females—30 days in most circumstances—is clinically and ethically unjustifiable, states an essay in the latest Hastings Center Report. The authors argue that the waiting period has contributed to structural injustice and does little to enforce the high-quality shared decision-making that is desired for sterilization counseling. The Medicaid policy ought to be revised, the authors insist, in light of the goals, preferences, and concerns of the people most affected by it.

This issue has gained urgency in light of reports from doctors—including Kavita Shah Arora, one of the authors of the Hastings Center Report essay–that more people have been requesting and undergoing sterilization procedures since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision eliminated the constitutional right to abortion. Dr. Arora, who chairs the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Ethics, has told the press that providers across the country are seeing an influx of patients for permanent sterilization.