"Act of love": the reason why more and more men have vasectomies.
Doctors who perform them say they want men to be open and comfortable talking about the procedure rather than backing away in horror at the idea.
After Andy and Erin Gress had their fourth child, Andy decided it was time to "step up" and help with family planning. So he did something some men get chills just thinking about it: he had a vasectomy.
It was an early morning last winter - a brief moment of peace before juggling to get the kids ready for online school and Zoom calls from work. He happened to see a local news story about the discounts being offered during "World Vasectomy Day." So he made an appointment that same day.
His wife had taken birth control pills but struggled with the side effects. She had worked as a night nurse for four pregnancies, and the couple had children between 2 and 11.
"The procedure was a total relief, almost like the COVID injection, as if I was now safe," said Gress, who works in higher education. "I wanted to be a man ."
But Gress's action was not just about her family. He also believed that he should do more to support his wife and other women who do not think the government should do with their bodies. "I have seen the miracle of life," he said. "But I have also seen children who are born into poverty and misery and do not have a fair chance ."
With the Supreme Court set to decide the fate of Roe v. Wade next year. With more than 20 states poised to ban or impose restrictions on abortion depending on what the court decides, some reproductive rights advocates say it is. Time for men to take a more active role in family planning and fight for reproductive rights.
In their form of protest, state legislators in Alabama, Illinois, and Pennsylvania introduced legislation that exposes gender double standards concerning reproductive rights.
State Representative of Pennsylvania, Chris Rabb (D), introduced legislation this fall "parodic" in response to the law of Texas, which is equivalent to an almost total ban on abortion. Rabb's proposal would force men to undergo a vasectomy after the birth of their third child or when they turn 40, whichever comes first. In addition, the law would be enforced, allowing Pennsylvanians to report non-compliant men, with a $ 10,000 reward.
"As long as state legislatures continue to restrict the reproductive rights of cis women, trans men, and non-binary people, there must be laws that address the responsibility of men who impregnate them. Therefore, my bill will also codify 'illicit conception' to include when a person has shown negligence in preventing conception during intercourse," Rabb wrote in a note on his proposal, as reported by the Keystone.
Rabb, a father of two who had a vasectomy in 2008, said he only had to discuss his choice with his wife and his urologist. The goal of his proposal, he said, was to expose the sexism, double standards, and hypocrisy inherent in the anti-abortion debate. But it erupted in a way I didn't expect.
"I underestimated the virulence of this proposal," Rabb said in an interview, adding that he received thousands of hateful emails, Facebook posts, and even death threats. "The idea that a man has to put up with or even think about losing his bodily autonomy was greeted with outrage, when everyday women are faced with this, and it is somehow okay for the government to invade the wombs of women and women. Girls should be off-limits if vasectomy is proposed or men's reproductive rights are limited. "
Since December 1, the date on which the Supreme Court saw a case that is expected to decide the future of Roe v. Wade, social networks have been filled with tweets, memes, and occurrences that use ironic humor to point out how rarely there is talk of the role of men in reproduction. "Are you against abortion? Get a vasectomy," reads a bumper sticker.
Koushik Shaw, a physician at the Institute of Urology, Austin ( Texas ), said there was an increase of 15% of vasectomies scheduled in his office after the entry into force of the ban on abortion in Texas September 1.
Patients are saying, "'Hey, I'm here because some of these changes that [Governor Greg] Abbott and our legislature have passed are impacting our decision-making in terms of family planning,' so that was something new. for me as a reason - the first time, patients are citing state law as their motivating factor," Shaw said.
Advocates say they want to be clear: They are not promoting vasectomy as a substitute for the right to abort, nor do they believe that men should have a voice in the abortion decision. In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled in Planned Parenthood v. Danforth that parental consent was no longer required for an abortion, mainly because of the risk of violence or coercion in a relationship.
Doctors who perform vasectomies say they want men to be open and comfortable talking about the procedure rather than recoil in horror at the idea, said Doug Stein, a urologist known as the "King of Vasectomy" for his billboards, coasters, and announcements at child support offices throughout Florida.
"An act of love, "for his partners," the definitive way to be a good man, "is how he and others commercialize the procedure.
"It's a notable trend in the family planning community to recognize and promote vasectomy and birth control for men, where it was previously considered more marginal," said Sarah Miller, a family medicine doctor who has a practice. Privately in Boston, and joined the Stein movement.
Advances in the 10-minute needle-free, the scalpel-free procedure need a cultural boost and maybe some fun, so men are less shy when doctors approach their "stuff," Stein said.
Stein has a full-time vasectomy and vasectomy reversal practice in Tampa and has traveled the world performing the procedure. His concern for population growth was inspired, but he also wanted to empower men to be responsible.
Stein underwent his vasectomy more than 20 years ago, a father of two.
Doctors say there are no reliable statistics on the number of men who have requested vasectomies since the Texas ban and the US Supreme Court hearing. Still, according to Miller, he has seen an increase in patients at the small clinic. which opened in Boston less than three years ago because he couldn't believe "the paucity of options for men and people with male parts ."
At one point, she was told that vasectomy was not considered part of family planning, and she had to do her own thing to get the necessary training.
"It makes my heart happy to hear men say, 'I'm very nervous, but I know this is NOTHING compared to what my wife has been through,'" he said in an email.
"It's outrageous that we don't have more contraceptive options for people with male parts," Miller said. "There is even a mistaken feeling that birth control is not a man's thing. That man cannot be trusted, or that they would never be interested, and that has led to a lack of funding and development," he said.
Experts say that it is difficult to involve men in the abortion debate because on the abortion right side, men do not want to be seen as questioning a woman's right to choose. And on the anti-abortion camp, the procedure is considered murder. But some abortion-rights advocates argue that men have a vested interest in making abortion legal and safe, and "the fact that we are not fighting with the same intensity as women is a disgrace," said Jonathan Stack, co-founder. This is because, along with Stein, on World Vasectomy Day.
"The quality of life of millions of men will be negatively affected if this right is taken away from women," said Stack, a documentary filmmaker who made a film about Stein called "The Vasectomist ."
While filming the documentary, Stack said that he would ask the men, "Why do you choose to do this?".
"They were expressing something that you rarely hear in movies about men: love or kindness or care," he said.
"I had already come to believe that there was a story about masculinity that was not being told: not that of power and control or anger, but that of alienation, insecurities, uncertainty, and fear," He said.
"We already know that men don't always want to use condoms, or they don't work, or well, they take them off," said Esgar Guarín with a sigh and a laugh. He is a family physician who runs SimpleVas in Iowa and performed Gress's vasectomy.
Guarín formed with Stein and joined his movement. "We have to invest in helping men understand how easy and safe vasectomies are," he said. After having two children, Guarín performed a vasectomy on himself.
He also launched the "Responsible Men's Clubs, "chat groups in which men can share information such as that sexual performance is fine after the procedure, and that it "does not take away their manhood, but makes them be better men," Guarín said.
A man asked for a kind of "vasectomy passport, "a letter from Guarín to show his wife that sex would now be free from worry.
Brad Younts, 45, said his wife, Lizz Gardner, wants him to become a "vasectomy evangelist, "having undergone the "simple procedure" without a hitch.
"Men are great babies. Taking into account everything that women suffer: menstruation, Pap tests, visits to the gynecologist," said Younts, who lives in Chicago. "I am proud to have done it. And I told it to two friends who are also investigating it".