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Thursday, November 13 2008

Male Birth Control: The Vasectomy

While one man is having a baby (again), lots of other men are opting out of the process, not only for today, but for ever. After reading an astounding statistic from the Guttmacher Institute that claims that 3.1 million pregnancies a year in the United States (that’s nearly half of the pregnancies in the U.S. each year) are by accident, I understand why vasectomies are not uncommon for men (approx. 500,000 men get sterilized each year), and getting more common for young men who are afraid of getting “oopsed” into having a baby. I have a friend who had a vasectomy in his late 20’s because he knew he never wanted to be a baby daddy, and now, over a decade later he’s still happy with his decision. Has it ruined a relationship or two? Sure. Especially if she envisions a family coming out of her own womb sometime down the road. But he knew, and knows, what he wants and he’s not going to let a little semen slippage mess that up. Of course there’s always adoption and a lot of kids need homes, but unfortunately, that doesn’t fly with a lot of women in the prime of their clockage.

I’ve always found myself in the middle of the debate about how much responsibility a man has in the baby-making process. If he decides to accept her decision (or their decision, but it’s rarely ever his decision) to have the baby, then yes, it’s just as much his responsibility as it is hers. But if he’s in love enough to believe that she’s definitely taken care of fetus prevention, or just plain dumb enough to believe that birth control is solely the woman’s responsibility, or not educated enough to know that even if you pull out she can get pregnant, then maybe he needs to be taught a lesson, but not necessarily forced into becoming a parent. The two of them can decide to talk about options. Like adoption. Or abortion. Or letting her mother pretend it’s hers, and then keeping it as a family secret until the baby is 18 when tragedy strikes and the nature of the family is forced out in the open.

What if she knows damn well what she’s doing when she has unprotected sex with her man meat? What if she wants a baby so badly she’ll lie, beg and steal to get it? If he’s not ready for a bouncing baby surprise, and he asks her to get an abortion or put it up for adoption, and she doesn’t want to, how can we say that he’s as responsible for the responsibility as she is? And that doesn’t mean if you’re a man and you don’t use condoms, I wouldn’t say “shame on you” and “did you learn your lesson now, buddy?” because I would. No doubt you’re an idiot if you don’t wrap your sausage before you slide it in her bun and think that there’s no chance in Bristol Palin that in nine months they’ll be calling you daddy.

Before you get all up on me for being what you may think of as (fill in the blank here) I am of the thought that if my boyfriend didn’t want the fetus warming in my tummy, and I did, that he wouldn’t have to be involved. It would be my decision to keep the thing, my decision to parent it. If he wanted it, but I didn’t, it would still be my decision, right? So when is it solely his decision? Because odds are I wouldn’t just give it to him if I didn’t want it, well, unless it was his last chance ever that he could be a father on his own and he desperately, die-ingly wanted to be a dad. In the end it is usually her decision and her body, and it’s so often not about him. If he’s not okay with having her baby, and she can’t be talked out of having it or keeping it, does he always have to be okay with it?

It’s important to note that no vasectomy should be taken lightly. It is a permanent procedure. It’s not all that expensive to get done, but it is expensive to reverse. Your health insurance is happy to help you prevent pregnancy. They are less happy to help you reverse it. And even if you reverse it, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll ever get to be a baby daddy again.

This past summer Details posted about guy’s going under the knife. And The Chicago Tribune did the same type of story at the end of August. And while yes, I’m late in sharing these articles..sometimes it’s better late than pregnant.

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