Abortion rights activist Cristela Luiz (L) confronts an anti-abortion demonstrator during a Bans Off Our Bodies rally at the base of the Washington Monument on May, 14 2022, in Washington. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
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In her piece, Plank began with some data showing that men’s internet searches for information regarding vasectomies have increased since the Supreme Court draft opinion leaked indicating that Roe v. Wade could be overturned.
She reported, “Data shows daily searches related to vasectomies are up 99 percent and searches for the term ‘how much is a vasectomy’ are up 250 percent.” Plank also observed that Michigan, “one of the 13 states with a trigger law that would automatically ban or severely restrict abortion if the Supreme Court were to go ahead with its leaked decision,” leads in the number of men searching for info on vasectomies.
People gather at an anti-abortion rally outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, as activists begin to arrive ahead of arguments on abortion at the court in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Plank talked to Manuel Benavides, a family man in Texas with a wife and two kids, who discussed getting a vasectomy with his wife after Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, signed the Texas Heartbeat Bill last year. Once the Court draft opinion leaked, he made up his mind to get one.
He told the author, “My wife has had a negative reaction to the pill, and I don’t think that the responsibility of whether we become pregnant or not should fall on my partner.”
Plank reported men in blue states where abortion is in less danger also “are making the decision to shift the responsibility of family planning onto their bodies.”
She was encouraged that plenty of men seem to support the pro-choice movement. “The presence of men at the various national protests held across the country, highlighted by the hashtag #MenAtTheMarch, reflects Pew Research Center data showing that men tend to be just as supportive as women when it comes to abortion rights,” she wrote.
Plank then mentioned Matthew, a 36-year-old Massachusetts resident she interviewed over email, who described how “he and his wife booked an appointment for a vasectomy last week” because of the leak. He stated, “It really is difficult to emphasize how much the SCOTUS leak changed our trajectory on this. We had joked about scheduling it around a major sporting event, now we just want to get it done as soon as possible.”
Protesters hold up signs during an abortion rights demonstration, Saturday, May 14, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Jeenah Moon)
“For other men, getting a vasectomy is a way to reclaim their freedom in a country that’s become more and more oppressive, especially for men with intersecting identities,” she wrote, before describing an example of an autistic man who “already feels like his reproductive rights are under threat.”
The gentleman, Mickey Rowe, told her “since my vasectomy was consensual, it was something I was choosing for myself, it felt empowering.”
Plank then scolded men in the U.S. on the vasectomy front, writing, “American men are well behind the rest of the industrialized world when it comes to vasectomies.” She explained that “men in Canada and the U.K. are twice as likely to get vasectomies compared to their female partners getting sterilized, but in America the figures are reversed.”
She followed that up with a strong hint for pro-choice men, “Where gently encouraging men to get vasectomies hasn’t exactly worked, maybe an extreme right-wing minority rule government encoding forced birth into law will.”
“It’s unclear whether this surge in men’s interest in family planning will last, but given that many states have only become more rabidly dystopian in their anti-abortion rights endeavors, it’s at least plausible this is more than just a passing trend,” Plank continued.
“While some ultra-conservatives may have believed banning abortion would lead to more babies, their radical stance may have just encouraged men to go to greater lengths to do the exact opposite,” she wrote, perhaps thinking that getting vasectomies will “own the cons.”
“But in a world where women don’t have a guaranteed constitutional right to access abortion and men don’t have any laws regulating their bodies, the burden of family planning will have to fall on them. If that scares the men who haven’t been showing up to the fight for reproductive justice, they’ll need to put up a bigger fight,” she concluded.