With the Supreme Court expected to issue a landmark ruling next year that will determine the fate of abortion in America, some pro-choice activists are advocating vasectomies as a way for men to support abortion rights.
These activists say that men should be more involved in family planning and that going to the doctor to have the tubes that carry sperm to their semen snipped and sealed is an act of reproductive freedom that can relieve pressure on women to kill unwanted children before they're born.
Doctors who perform the male sterilization procedure told the Washington Post they've seen an increase in male patients seeking vasectomies in response to pro-life laws passed by Republican-majority legislatures in several states. In Texas, a fetal heartbeat law seeks to ban abortions after six weeks of pregnancy but has been blocked in court. A ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in Mississippi is at the center of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, the Supreme Court case challenging Roe v. Wade's precedent.
Koushik Shaw, a urologist at the Austin Urology Institute in Texas, said his practice saw about a 15% increase in scheduled vasectomies after Dec. 1, when oral arguments for Dobbs took place.
He said patients are telling him, "'Hey, I’m actually here because some of these changes that [Gov. Greg] Abbott and our legislature have passed that are really impacting our decision-making in terms of family planning,’ so that was a new one for me as a reason — the first time, patients are citing a state law as their motivating factor."
Florida doctor Doug Stein, who advertises himself as the "Vasectomy King," advocates for sterilization as "an act of love" by men for their partners, and "the ultimate way to be a good man."
His practice in Tampa offers both vasectomy and vasectomy reversal procedures, and he travels around the world sterilizing men, telling the Post he was inspired to do so because of his concern about population growth. He says a cultural push is needed to make men less hesitant to have their "junk" snipped for family planning. To that end, he co-founded World Vasectomy Day with filmmaker Jonathan Stack, to raise awareness about vasectomies and encourage men to get them.
“It’s a remarkable trend in the family planning community of recognizing and promoting vasectomy and birth control for men, where this was once considered more fringe,” Sarah Miller, a Boston family medicine doctor who supports Stein's and Stack's views, said.
While the Post reported there aren't reliable statistics on the number of men who have sought vasectomies since the Texas abortion ban and U.S. Supreme Court arguments, Miller anecdotally said her practice has seen an increase in male patients since she opened her small clinic three years ago. She attributed the uptick to "the paucity of options for men and people with men parts.”
“It’s outrageous that we don’t have more contraceptive options for people with man parts,” Miller said. “There’s even a misguided sense that birth control is not a man’s job. That men can’t be trusted, or that they would never be interested, and that has led to lack of funding and development."
To be clear, the vasectomy evangelists who spoke to the Post are not saying that men should get sterilized as a replacement for a woman's right to seek an abortion. They want women to have the freedom to kill unwanted children, but they think men can help women out by getting sterilized to avoid pregnancy in the first place.
Stack said men need to be involved in fighting for women to have the right to have an abortion.
"The fact we’re not out there fighting every bit as hard as women is shameful," he said. "The quality of life for millions of men will be adversely affected if this right is taken from women."