A West Bridgford woman received a torrent of online abuse after winning her campaign to be sterilised on the NHS.
Holly Brockwell has been trying to have the procedure for the past four years because she does not want children.
The 30-year-old has been repeatedly turned down for the treatment because of her age with doctors offering her boyfriend Zack a vasectomy instead.
She decided when she was 26 that she did not want children but has had problems with the pill, experiencing bleeding, vomiting and discomfort in her legs.
Sterilisation cannot be easily reversed but it stops the need for contraception as the fallopian tubes are cut or sealed.
On March 23, she finally received confirmation of her operation but has since received a tirade of abuse online.
One commenter, Katie Anne, said: “We are put on the Earth for one reason and one reason only. To reproduce. If you don’t, what are you living for? What a waste of life.”
Katie was not in her own. Marie Barton-Hanson added: “Didums, I do not want to have a baby it might ruin my perfect life and take attention away from me. Good job your mother was not so selfish.”
Others picked up on the fact her operation would be at the NHS’s expense.
LBC radio journalist Ian Collins said: “Are we losing sight of what the NHS is for? If she wants to be sterilised then fine – go and pay for it yourself. Selfish.”
And another: “I really don’t care if you want kids or not. I do care that you force others to pay for your choice. Pay for your own sterilisation.”
Holly responded: “Wonder what people would think if I went round shouting ‘pay for your own maternity care’ in hospitals.”
But it’s not all been negative.
“I’ve received so many positive messages! I’ve had to stop replying because it was taking so much time out of work,” she says.
“It’s amazing how many women are in the same situation, not being taken seriously in their wishes and not being believed when they say they don’t want kids.
“I’ve got it easy, really – my boyfriend and family are completely on my side, and no one’s pressuring me to give them grandkids. That’s not the case for a lot of women.”
Following the confirmation of her operation, Holly has made appearances on television and featured in national newspapers but she has been taken aback by the negative messages she has received online.
“The first time it happened, I went to bed for an entire weekend and didn’t speak to anyone.
“Some of the comments still enter my head when I’m feeling low, but you have to remember they know nothing about you and are throwing stones because they’re unhappy in their own lives.”
Holly is no stranger to the media spotlight.
In 2013 she wrote an open letter online to Hyundai after one of their adverts depicted a man attempting to commit suicide by filling the car with poisonous gases.
Holly’s dad, Geoff, committed suicide in his car in 1990.
She is the founder and editor of the Gadgette, an online publication for women focused on gadgets, gaming and geekery for which she has also been fighting to get the female voice heard in technology circles. She says:
“I suspect I’ll spend a lot of my life fighting things I think are unfair and if people take that as me trying to promote myself, there’s not much I can do.”
But she does believe the media storm and social media frenzy she’s generated has made a difference.
“A lot of the comments you get are from people who haven’t thought the situation through, and are giving you their kneejerk reaction. The more I’ve talked about it, the more they’ve had time to consider, and I think any reasonable person who listens to the arguments comes down on my side.”