With the U.S. Supreme Court having overturned Roe v. Wade and ended federal protection for abortion rights, it’s only a matter of time until far-right Christian fundamentalists go after contraception as well. Justice Clarence Thomas himself is calling for the High Court to “reconsider” Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 ruling that made access to contraception a federally protected right for married couples; so is Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.
Certainly, that type of extremism isn’t characteristic of all Christians. There are plenty of Catholics and Mainline Protestants who use contraception. But on Christianity’s lunatic fringe, far-right White evangelicals oppose anything that prevents a pregnancy, be it birth control pills, IUDs, condoms, tubal ligations or vasectomies — which, according to Vox reporter Kenny Torrella, are enjoying an uptick in interest online now that abortion is becoming illegal or greatly restricted in a long list of states.
One of the challenges of getting a vasectomy, Torrella stresses in an article published by Vox on July 1, is paying for it. Torrella notes that the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare, fully covers birth control pills but not vasectomies.
Torrella observes, “In early May, after the Supreme Court draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade leaked, Google searches for vasectomies spiked — and then spiked again in late June when the final decision was handed down on June 24…. Despite the sudden interest in the term, chances are it won’t lead to a wave of vasectomies.”
The Vox journalist notes that Bobby Najari, a urologist at New York University’s Langone Health, is seeing what Torrella describes as a “modest” increase in vasectomy consultations. But the Vox reporter adds, however, that according to 2019 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tubal ligations for women were three times as common as vasectomies for men in the U.S.
Torrella explains, “Much of the sterilization gap can be explained by the simple fact that the burden to prevent pregnancy in the U.S. — like the burden of managing childbirth and reproduction more generally — disproportionately falls on people who can become pregnant…. Simply making vasectomies more accessible and less expensive could shift some of the burden soon, at the moment when it is most needed.”
The reporter continues, “The overturning of Roe v. Wade will severely restrict or practically eliminate abortion access in over 20 states, which will disproportionately affect low-income people and people of color. With Republicans gearing up to further restrict access to abortion and potentially contraception, and Democrats’ options to fight back limited, modest measures like increasing access to vasectomy care could be a previously underutilized route for change and serve to level some of the playing field of birth control.”
According to Planned Parenthood, the cost of a vasectomy in the United States can be “anywhere between $0 and $1000,” depending on the type of health insurance one has. Some men in the U.S. can expect full coverage if they want a vasectomy; most can’t.
“If you want to get a vasectomy, you’ll probably have to pay at least some of it out of pocket,” Torrella explains. “Obamacare doesn’t require insurers to fully cover the procedure, and health insurance plans vary on how much of the procedure they’ll pay for. Plus, millions of Americans still lack any kind of health insurance. Congress could help to close the sterilization gap.”
Torrella adds, “The Affordable Care Act required insurers to cover a few categories of preventive services without cost-sharing, including women’s health care; Congress could pass a law requiring the ACA to cover contraception for all genders, or expand the law’s requirements to include preventive services for men.”
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