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I love France.. But not their Vasectomy Laws

By Jonathan Stack

I love France. It’s beautiful. The wine is spectacular, the food is great, the quality of culture about the highest in the world and the biking unequaled.  How do I know all of this? Well, besides that I’ve traveled there many times and can vouch for it, I also have highly educated French friends who told me so.  The French aren’t perfect, but they don’t lack in self-confidence.

Maybe it’s because the French have such high self-esteem they don’t have much interest in vasectomies. If you love your image, you’re naturally likely to be a bit more resistant.  If you think about it, vasectomy and vanity don’t necessarily mix. Or maybe I’m wrong.

The facts, on the other hand, are revealing; such as vasectomy being illegal in France until 1999 where it was considered ‘mutilation’ and banned under the “Code Napoleon”.  Even now, any man who wants to get a vasectomy has to wait 4 months after his initial counseling session before the doctor can perform the procedure. Seems like a long time?  I think it might be the longest ‘official wait time’ in the world.

I agree that men should take the time they need to make a decision that is, for all intents and purposes, irreversible. That said, I’d venture to say most men take a heck of a lot longer than 4 months between the time they first think to get a vasectomy and actually go through with it. So once you finally decide it’s what you want, I think you should be allowed to do it that same day, assuming the doctor is assured you know what you’re getting into.  

Personally, I don’t get the waiting period.  Four months seems like a disaster waiting to happen. One thing for sure, you certainly wouldn’t make a woman who was pregnant wait 4 months for an abortion. I know it’s different, but the fact is in waiting 4 months to get a vasectomy a whole lot of unplanned pregnancies occur of which I imagine quite a number are terminated through abortion. I believe that as long as there is informed consent, every man should be able to make this decision as he chooses. 

Frankly, it shouldn’t even be an issue.  It’s not as if there’s a tsunami of teenagers rushing to their doctor to get sterilized or a lot of drunken frat parties that end in the family planning version of a circle jerk. That would be scary.  The vast majority of men who get vasectomies are mature men who have decided their families are complete. While it ranges from culture to culture, they’re usually in their 30s or 40s and eve 50s. Yes some are in their 20s and others are in their 60s, but these are mature men who are making an informed decision.  They don’t need the state to tell them to wait when it’s their right over their body.

And while I know there’s been ‘history’ with forced sterilizations and that this both immoral and illegal, it is not a reason to put roadblocks on what should be, and ultimately is, ‘male choice’.  On the other hand, when a government or an organization or any individual deceives or pressures a man to give up their fertility against their will or without their knowledge they should be prosecuted. This is criminal. 

But France is not alone in getting men to hold off. For example in the US, any permanent form of family planning (Vasectomy or Tubal Ligation) where the acceptor requires any federal financial assistance requires a 30 day ‘cooling period’ between the initial counseling and the actual vasectomy procedure.  On the other hand, in NYC, every man who desires a vasectomy must wait at least 30 days (but no more than 6 months) after being counseled. It’s why a lot of guys are crossing the river to it done in NJ. 

Then you’ve got Russia where the procedure is actually illegal unless you’re 35 and have 2 kids, or suffer a grueling disease as noted in a government-standardized list.  Prison time for a vasectomy? Really? That’s a law be changed. And forget about Iran. It’s totally illegal. Apparently, they’ve done such a good job of inspiring family planning their population rate has shrunk below population replacement rate.

So, vive la France for a thousand reasons, but just let men just decide on their own with their own physicians when to get their vasectomy.  Get the right information out there, but s’il vous plait, let’s remember that a vasectomy is male choice and as such an important freedom we should all hold dear. 


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