Today is World Vasectomy Day!

Published on November 13th, 2015

Snip to Save the Earth

As a proud recipient of a vasectomy in 1997, a year after the birth of my second child, I am pleased to see that World Vasectomy Day (WVD) is now in its fourth year, scheduled for today, Friday, November 13.

Jonathan Slack
American documentary filmmaker
and WVD cofounder Jonathan Stack.

WVD 2015 activities will be focused in Indonesia, but there’s worldwide participation. More than 750 doctors in 40 countries will be performing thousands of vasectomies on this day, in what is being billed as the largest male-oriented family planning event in history.

In the two weeks leading up to WVD, organizers have been doing outreach to men in communities around Indonesia. On WVD, a full day of activities is planned in Bali, kicked off by a 100-piece gamelan orchestra leading a procession through city streets to a site where free vasectomies will be performed. WWD will be live-streamed from Bali and feature a variety of speakers, including Dr. Surya Chandra Surapathy, coordinating minister of Indonesia's Ministry of Family Planning, who will give the keynote address.

The WWD cofounders – documentary filmmaker Jonathan Stack, urologist Doug Stein and film producer Simon Nasht – richly deserve accolades for their vision and perseverance in building and managing the growth of this remarkable event from scratch to heighten awareness about men’s role in family planning. Stack produced the 2013 documentary, The Vasectomist, featuring Dr. Stein’s work.

Stack says that:

“…after 20 years making films about the most horrible expressions of human cruelty, witnessing them [vasectomy patients] declare love for their wives, their families and our future was eye opening. I asked myself a question, how could I aggregate these individual acts of kindness into a collective movement for change…and for reasons I cannot explain, I thought let’s make World Vasectomy Day.”

On the WVD website is a list of reasons Stack supports vasectomy. These include its effectiveness for men whose families are complete, that it’s right for men to share responsibility in family planning, helping lower the rate of unintended pregnancies and because we have to do a better job of sharing Earth’s finite resources. See the full list here.

I support all of Stack’s principles, which is why 18 years ago I chose to have the procedure.  It was swift and nearly painless (with the aid of a local anesthetic, if I recall correctly), though I remember some lingering discomfort in the following days.

World Vasectomy DayNo. 8 on Stack’s list – “… the quality of human life depends on respect for and protection of all life” – had particular significance for me and my wife. Our second-born son was unintended and unplanned due to a birth control failure. As a dedicated population and environmental activist, I had planned to have only one child as an expression of my beliefs, to do more than my fair share, as it were. My wife too had wanted to stop at one, though for different reasons.

Nineteen years later, I’m very glad, of course, that our second son has immeasurably enriched our lives with the added joy and stress that every unique child brings. But the paradox of all family planning is that each of us consciously foregoes future offspring and experiences that might have been in order to make those we already have better … and to voluntarily embrace limits, both personal and planetary.   

At a time when an ignorant, self-centered and short-sighted backlash to family planning has sprung up in countries as different as the United States and Iran, World Vasectomy Day is a cause for celebration of selflessness on the part of those males who do elect this procedure.

It is, indeed, an act of love, for their wives, their families and Earth.

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