Vasectomies – The Only Choice Left for Men?

March 5, 2009 at 6:43 pm Leave a comment

More and more young, single and unmarried men are choosing a radical form of birth control- vasectomies. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, half of all pregnancies in the United States are unwanted. As a man, there are traditionally two methods of birth control; condoms and relying on a woman’s word that she has reliable birth control. There are clear drawbacks to both methods. Major pharmaceutical companies have recently shelved near-ready male birth control pills and injections. They cite “lack of interest” as their reasoning to cease the multi-billion dollar investment, but that choice has left young men who do not yet want to face the enormity of being a father dangerously turning to vasectomies.

Many media commentators, pro-women advocates and even legislators subscribe to the ideology “if a man doesn’t want to father a child, he should have used birth control.” The bias in that argument is very simple- couldn’t you say the same thing about women? Yet, if a woman gets pregnant, wanted or not, she then has the option of aborting or keeping the child. She alone has the decision, and should she decide to keep the child, the man has no choice but to financially step forward and pay child support or face jail time.

One and a half million American women legally walk away from motherhood every year by adoption, abortion or abandonment, yet somehow nobody labels them “deadbeats” or “deserters”. In over 40 states, a mother can return the baby to the hospital within a few weeks of birth- completely opting out of motherhood and any child support responsibility with as much ease as going to the dry cleaners. Yet, if the mother decides she wants to keep the child, she can demand 18 (or in some states 21 or 23) years of child support from the father, and he has no choice in the matter.

Feminists have long based their support for Roe v. Wade around the slogan “My body, My Choice.” Yet, men who share in the responsibility of child rearing and financial support have no choice, with their own bodies or futures. Fatherhood is not a right or a privilege that they can opt into when they feel ready. It is instead something that is thrust upon them, partly due to a lack of choice in their options of birth control.

Research shows that many men are unwillingly drafted into fatherhood. The National Scruples and Lies Survey of 2004 conducted in the United Kingdom found that 42% of the women in the survey said they would lie about contraception in order to get pregnant, regardless of the wishes of their partner.

Experts, politicians and pro-choice advocates claim that the current system is necessary because it protects children. In reality, over time, choice for men would greatly benefit American children. If men had the same birth control options that women have, then the number of unwed births (and the huge social problems associated with them) would be reduced. Choice for men means better parenting for children because more men will be able to become fathers when they are married, willing, and stable- a huge benefit for children and society as a whole.

Women’s advocates correctly note that pregnant women often have legitimate reasons for not wanting to be mothers, including youth, finances and the lack of a suitable relationship or marriage. Yet, all of these apply equally to men. Women have a choice- men should, too.

Jeffery M. Leving

Jeffery M. Leving is one of America’s most prominent family law attorneys
and founder of He is the author of “Fathers’ Rights” and “Divorce Wars”  and serves as the Chairman of the Illinois Council on Responsible Fatherhood.

Entry filed under: Birth Control, Roe v. Wade, Unwanted Pregnancies, Vasectomies, Women's Rights. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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