Sterilization laws in Canada
Canada has a dark history of involuntary sterilization. In 1928, the Sexual Sterilization Act came into force. This act allowed sterilization for mentally ill persons, to “protect the gene pool”. It was disproportionally applied to people in vulnerable positions, indigenous women, and other minorities. Amendments in 1937 and 1942 made it even worse by officially removing the need for consent for many people and broadening the definition of mentally ill persons. In 1972, the Act was finally repealed. 1
Due to this dark history, Canadian doctors are often reluctant to perform voluntary tubal ligations to avoid any potential allegations.
Voluntary tubal ligation is legal in Canada for everyone over the age of 18, who understands their birth control options and the permanency of the procedure. There are no official requirements of consent from anyone other than the patient. There is no official age or the number of children requirements. 2
In practice, most women under 30 experience heavy pushback and straight out refusal from their doctors when requesting sterilization or a referral to a specialist. This even applies to people with medical conditions, which would make a pregnancy more dangerous. 3
Tubal ligation costs in Canada
If you have access to medicare, this will usually cover your sterilization in full. Depending on the hospital, they might charge you separately for the equipment. This fee can range anywhere from free to several hundreds of dollars, so make sure to inquire about that in time. Without insurance, the costs for tubal ligations in private hospitals are all over the place and usually range between CA$2000 and CA$5000. 4
Sterilization process in Canada
The first step to sterilization is usually getting a referral from your primary care provider (GP, doctor) to a surgeon. Please note, that getting this referral is not just a formality. You’ll actually have to convince your GP that a tubal ligation is the best option for you. Please refer to our general tips on how to talk to your doctor to prepare for this conversation.
With the referral in your pocket, you can make an appointment with the surgeon. Depending on the popularity of your surgeon, it might take between a week and several months to schedule a consultation. During this consultation, you’ll have to convince the surgeon again by showing that you are well informed and are 100% sure about your decision.
After taking this second hurdle, your surgeon will schedule the actual tubal ligation surgery with you. Again, depending on availability it might take several months until the operation theater is available.
Your personal path to sterilization in Canada might be not as straightforward as described here. Don’t give up if your GP is initially stonewalling you. Try a different doctor who respects your right to bodily autonomy. Some surgeons might also accept you without a referral.Notes
- Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_Sterilization_Act
- Source: https://www.engenderhealth.org/files/pubs/family-planning/factbook_chapter_4.pdf
- Source: https://www.jogc.com/article/S1701-2163(17)30359-6/abstract
- Source: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/hc-sc/documents/services/publications/health-system-services/canada-health-act-annual-report-2015-2016.pdf