Holly Maitland’s novel approach to personal contraception – an online petition to the Prime Minister – has made her something of a minor celebrity of the moment. Clementine Ford takes up the story of poor, patriarchally oppressed Holly:

Queensland legislation has claimed another victim of the reproductive health care wars, with a young woman being forced to fight for her right to access a tubal ligation. Because never forget that women – silly, hysterical and childish that we are – can’t be trusted to know what’s best for our bodies, our lives and the families we might already have.

Holly Maitland is 27 weeks pregnant with her third child. All three of her children have been the unplanned result of failed contraception, a pattern Maitland and her husband would like to see an end to. Maitland’s pregnancies have all been high risk, characterised by gestational diabetes and complicated labours. She has reached out to both public and private specialists to perform a tubal ligation to prevent the toll a future pregnancy might take on her body – but because she is only 22 years old, she’s been repeatedly told she is ‘too young’ to make that decision. She has since launched an online petition calling on the Prime Minister to grant Australian women the right to assert control over their own reproductive health choices.

Ford is a bit late to the party, so to speak, the UK Daily Mail providing lavish coverage days earlier:

Ms Maitland said people accused her of not taking the pill correctly. 

‘I’ve had comments such as “learn to use it properly” but there’s not much else I can do except take the pill at the same time everyday which I did before I even touched my phone as I had the box of pills sitting on my phone,’ she said. 

‘If I was awake before the time I usually took them, I had an alarm set so I would. I have been offered the Mirena [IUD] but that’s another contraception that would have its risks of failing and we can’t afford that.’ also previously covered the non-story:

It’s an ethical dilemma doctors face often. The two choices — supporting a patient’s autonomy over their body, and sticking to the physician’s oath of “first do no harm” — are difficult to reconcile.

But doctors have an overriding professional obligation to act in their patient’s best interests, says executive director of The Ethics Centre, Dr Simon Longstaff.

“From a doctor’s perspective, what this patient wants and what is in her best interests are not the same thing,” Dr Longstaff said.

“Sure, it’s your body and it’s your life and you should be able to do whatever you want. But that wish must be within your own power to perform. If you’re seeking help from others to achieve your ends — in this case, a doctor — you have to recognise they have the right to autonomy.”

So here we have a 22 year-old who swears she took her birth control pills religiously but still experienced three pregnancies in three years. What are the chances? It all seems more than a bit iffy.

Also, you’d reckon after one birth control “failure” you’d be on alert and especially so after  two. So three failures means someone is just a bit slow on the uptake. And since we’re not privy to discussions with health care providers there’s no way of knowing what was discussed concerning alternative contraception.

Holly Maitland is nothing but a blame-shifting, female attention seeker aided by the equally attention seeking Clementine Ford.



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