This morning, my husband and I were watching The Doctors and they did a segment on an older couple who had just had their third child many years after their first two were born. Mom was older and had decided she was done having kids. She asked Dr. Lisa Masterson about getting her tubes tied.
Dr. Lisa, who was holding the woman's baby girl and bouncing her on her knee, first quipped that the baby was so beautiful and was she sure she wanted to be done? Then she fixed her gaze on the woman's husband and basically told him that he should get a vasectomy because it's cheaper and easier for men to get "fixed" than it is women. And then she added with a note of reproach, "Your wife had three beautiful kids for you. The least you can do is have this surgery for her."
I've ranted about this subject before. It tends to be kind of a hot topic, though surprisingly enough, a lot of people, especially women, see no problem in telling the guy that it's his "duty" to get fixed for the woman who had kids for him. But just a minute, ladies. How would you like it if your husband demanded that you get your tubes tied? What if his doctor told you, "After all the money he's brought in to support you, don't you think you owe it to him to get your tubes tied?"
I bet if that ever happened in a western country, feminists would be outraged. There would be protests, blog posts, articles, and much gnashing of the teeth! People would be flabbergasted that anyone might suggest to a woman that she ought to give up her fertility for the man's sake. And yet, many of these same people have no problem telling a man that it's his duty to voluntarily give up his fertility for the woman's sake.
Yes, I know that pregnancy is hard for many women. I understand that once the egg is fertilized, it's the woman's job to deal with it. But there are many, many ways to prevent pregnancy that don't involve permanent sterilization. And since divorce is so common in the United States, one should never assume that love's bloom won't one day fade.
Mind you, I am not saying that men shouldn't have vasectomies. If a man wants to get snipped, that's his prerogative. What I'm saying is that no one should use emotional blackmail to get a man to have a vasectomy. It should be his decision entirely what he wants to do with his body. I expect my husband to have respect for my decisions involving my body and I give him the same respect when it comes to decisions he makes involving his body.
It's true that I started thinking about this topic because my husband's ex wife pushed him into getting fixed. I was pretty pissed off that he'd had a vasectomy at his ex wife's insistence and then she went on to have two more kids. My husband, on the other hand, got a vasectomy reversal that ultimately didn't lead to pregnancy.
At this point, I'm okay with not having kids. I'm 40 years old and getting too old for the job. In fact, it's even occurred to me that it's not a bad thing that I won't be bringing an innocent child into today's world. It still really chaps my ass when some woman feels it's perfectly fine to pressure her husband into having surgery that he will have to live with.
Granted, a lot of men probably are fine with getting fixed; those are not the ones I'm writing about. It's the ones who cave to pressure from their wives as a means of avoiding a fight I'm writing about, the ones who feel they have to cooperate with "family politics". Vasectomies are elective surgical procedures. It's true that they are mostly very safe and there are rarely any risks to having one done. However, no surgical procedure is without risks. There have been men who have regretted having vasectomies. And, having watched my husband have a vasectomy reversal, I can report that the reversal surgery is a lot more involved, a lot riskier, more expensive, and takes more recovery time. That's reason enough for me to believe that it should be entirely up to the man to decide if he wants to get snipped. Women should not be pressuring them to get snipped... unless they would like the same treatment.