On Monday, Mercy Medical Center, a Catholic hospital in Redding, Calif., gave permission for one of its doctors to perform a tubal ligation, or tube tying, on a patient. The decision came only after the woman threatened to sue the medical center for sex discrimination, suggesting the growing popularity of female sterilization may even force religious institutions to change their stance on the procedure.

Rachel Miller, a pregnant woman due to give birth at the end of September, had her request denied to receive a tubal ligation after her C-section. According to Mercy Medical Center, the request directly went against the hospital’s Ethical and Religious Directives, which prohibit any type of sterilization procedure where the patient’s health is not in danger.

Miller’s attorney, Elizabeth Gill, teamed up with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to protest the denial, citing the hospital’s decision was “discriminating on the basis of sex,” and accused the hospital of elevating “theological tenets over patient health,” The Huffington Post reported.

The hospital’s attorney, Rick Grossman, rebutted by claiming that allegations were “baseless,” since Mercy denied both men and women sterilization procedures and Miller’s sterilization was not medically necessary to address any serious health problem. The hospital did, however, give permission for Miller to undergo the tubal ligation procedure after her C-section scheduled for Sept. 29.

Currently, tubal ligation is the second most popular form of birth control among American women. The church’s decision to allow the procedure may suggest that even religious institutions have to come to terms with this national trend in family planning. A 2014 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nationwide survey found that female sterilization is almost as frequently used as the birth control pill.

At this point, it is not yet clear how far-reaching of an impact this decision may have. When asked whether or not the decision would apply to future cases, a hospital spokeswoman told HuffPost in an email that the hospital “has always and will continue” to operate according to the Catholic church’s directives. However, in 2013, Catholic hospitals agreed to cover birth control pills for their workers, suggesting that even something as old as the Catholic church is capable of change.

Why Are More Women Going Under The Knife?

Tubal ligations are most frequently performed immediately after childbirth and do not interfere with any female bodily functions, such as producing milk or sexual libido. Less than one in every 100 women who undergo sterilization go on to become pregnant, offering women the strongest possible guarantee against unplanned pregnancies. Vanessa Cullins, vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Time that the majority of women who undergo sterilization tend to not want to be bothered with other types of methods requiring more upkeep and are looking for a birth control guarantee. For those with this objective, sterilization serves as an excellent option.

Along with a strong guarantee, some suggest that financial motives may be behind America’s preference for sterilization. IUDs and tubal ligation, the two available long-term birth control procedures, are both covered by most health insurances, Reuters reported. However, tubal ligations cost significantly more than IUD implantations, and therefore would result in a bigger payout for the surgeon and hospital.