The Doctor’s Argument for Vasectomies

The Doctor’s Argument for Vasectomies

Letters to the Editor: A nation of vasectomized men — did you envision this, antiabortion zealots?

(To be published in The Times on Thursday, Sept. 14. Opinions expressed during the interview are those of the interviewee.)

On a recent morning at the University of Virginia medical school, I sat in on a lecture on the subject of vasectomies. The doctor spoke only on the one hand, his explanation for vasectomies in women who wanted children and whose reproductive life had not been deemed “normal.” He emphasized the “long-term” benefits of this procedure — one year, two years, all three — as the best alternative for women on the verge of pregnancy, to minimize the risks to both mother and baby.

He told how the average person who had the operation would later complain of “all the problems” associated with pregnancy, including fatigue, backache, insomnia, mood swings, anxiety, and problems related to childbirth (and, of course, a life-long commitment to a child). The doctor went on to emphasize the “long-term” risks of this operation, which included cancer, heart disease and other long-term maladies.

He made his argument with a little girl’s story — that, just as a normal woman has good intentions in her heart (“I hope you have a baby!”), so does a normal man have good intentions in his heart (“I hope you get a vasectomy!”).

At that point in the lecture, I turned to the woman sitting next to me in the front row. She sat with her legs crossed, her legs in the stirrups of her corset, her knees held together, and as she leaned forward, her back was arching up in front of her, her breasts bulging beneath the fabric of her corset. It was obvious she was not the normal woman the doctor assumed she would be for the operation, and she was clearly in pain — but he wouldn’t see that. He saw only the �

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