Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Choice has its Limits

Recently I was contacted by a journalist who was writing an article on young childfree males who had a vasectomy in their twenties. He asked me if I knew a male in his twenties who had recently signed up for this procedure. I did not.

I knew from my interviews with childfree couples that it is possible to get a vasectomy in your twenties but it isn’t easy. I had heard stories about twenty-something childless by choice men being turned away by doctors who said, "Come back to me when you’ve had a couple of kids."

Hello!? It’s true. You will likely have to doctor shop to get a vasectomy if you are a young childfree man. The same is true if you are a young childless woman seeking a tubal ligation. Some doctors are reluctant to perform a tubal ligation on a woman under twenty-five years old, even if she does have kids. Woman and men have been asked to undergo a year of counseling, write a letter to the child they will never have, and are generally expected to jump through hoops to convince a doctor they are sincere in their desire to remain childfree.

Why is it so hard?

Because there are assumptions, crusty with age, that are operating here:
1) You may think you don’t want children, but you will change your mind (and sue me).
2) You will divorce and your next spouse will want a baby, and you will acquiesce.
3) You’re immature, and you don’t know your own mind.

If you really, really want to be permanently sterilized in your twenties you must find a way to overcome these objections, or wait until you turn thirty. In the meantime, do what many of my particpants in the childless by choice project have done.
1) Double up on birth control (I know, you are already very careful).
2) Discuss your wishes with your partner (it takes two to be this diligent).
3) Do an extensive discernment process. Do you really want to remain childless? Why? When you’ve answered these questions, write a letter to yourself, and print a copy for the doctor and bring it to the initial consultation.

It takes a a good pitch, and a lot of thought, to make this life-altering decision, but if it is what you really, really want to do, remember you can always adopt, foster, or mentor. A life without kids doesn’t necessarily mean a life without kids. (See the previous post).


Ken Wagner said...

I know a plastic surgeon who made a woman look like a cat.

It is hard to believe that doctors will still let their personal convictions/fears prevent a rational person from making a well-considered, albeit permanent, life decision.

And how about tattoos for teenagers?

Anonymous said...

When I was age 16 and told a friend of my mother's that I didn't want children she poo-pooed me and responded with "Oh... you'll meet the right guy and.....". That was nearly 30 years ago. I've met and divorced the "right guy" and I'm still not certain what he supposedly had to do with my desire (or not) to gestate and bear children.....

Anonymous said...

Writing a well thought out letter and bringing it to the initial consultation worked for me to get a vasectomy at age 25 with no children. I wrote about how many neglected children there are and how i would rather adopt if i want to parent. Also the earth environment

Laura S. Scott said...

Thanks Carey LT. I have from others that the letter made the biggest difference!