An Obvious Alternative

You know, maybe we should be debating abortion after all. We sometimes get so hung up on the way things are and the way we think they should be that we forget there’s more than one way to solve our problems. Yes, it’s true that there isn’t a lot of common ground between anti-abortion and pro-choice folks. One side wants to prevent pregnant people from getting abortions, and the other doesn’t want to force pregnant folk to be forced to carry unwanted pregnancies. So what do you do with an unplanned pregnancy, eh?

But maybe there’s a way to prevent most abortions AND not force unwillingly pregnant people from staying pregnant. Maybe there’s a third way. Mimmoth has an innovative idea:

Perhaps we have been asking, over and over and over, the wrong question.

If we are going to deprive people of bodily autonomy to save wonderful wonderful fetuses from death there is an obvious alternative that we, as clear-eyed skeptics willing to question tradition and religion, should be examining–an alternative that causes less harm and does more good, as it benefits not only women, but also men.

The question we ought to be asking is, should we sterilize men to save wonderful wonderful fetuses from death?

Every man over the age of puberty would make a few sperm donations, which are frozen away, then promptly be vasectomized, period, no exceptions. The frozen sperm is saved for when he and his partner decide together to have a child. In the meantime, never again need a man fear being tapped for child support for a child he didn’t consent to. And never again need a woman fear being made to endure pregnancy and labor for a child she didn’t consent to.

It’s true that this would deprive more people of bodily autonomy–all men instead of one third of women. But the harm would be much smaller. Instead of vomiting through nine months of pregnancy and screaming through eighteen hours of labor we would be talking about a half-hour visit to the doctor’s office, of which the shaving would be the most time-consuming part of the procedure.

With every child a deliberate decision on the part of both parents, abortions plummet–not quite to zero, alas, as there are those rare tragedies when a wanted pregnancy goes badly awry–but by easily 90-99%. Surely that is cause for rejoicing, if saving wonderful wonderful fetuses from death was actually the point.

And it may turn out, when it’s men’s bodily autonomy we’re talking about stripping away, that bodily autonomy is important after all, so we’ll live with abortion on demand and without apology. That’s also okay with me.


Brilliant! There is so much win here. MRAs could stop whining about getting spermjacked – they’d never have to worry about that again! Fetus worshippers could rest easier, knowing that the only “babies” being “killed” would be ones where it was self-defense. Women wouldn’t have to worry about unwanted pregnancies and birth control. Even God would be happier, knowing sperm was no longer being wasted. The “no sex except for procreation” crowd would still be grumpy, but they’re only happy when they’re mad, so even they would be satisfied.

It’s the perfect solution. I look forward to it being implemented in the very near future.

Image shows a cat sitting slumped over like a dejected person. It's front legs are draped like arms with its paws in its lap. The caption says, "Don't look. I just got back from the vet.


An Obvious Alternative

57 thoughts on “An Obvious Alternative

  1. 1

    I would be all for it! The Catholic Chorch would forbid it, though, because the whole point of sex is to reproduce. Every act of sex must be open to the possibility of reproduction. It’s why they hate sodomy so much.

  2. rq

    Wow. Definitely a modest proposal, and so easy and convenient – and, in the long run, better for everybody. Let’s do it.
    Nice, Mimmoth. Very nice.
    (What happens if a prolific reproducer and his brave and patient partner run out of sperm, though? WHAT THEN??? They’ve only got 11 of their 12 wanted children, and no more sperm! *aghast*)

  3. rq

    Every act of sex must be open to the possibility of reproduction.

    Easy. Just have that handy turkey-baster on hand every time you have sex. You know, all [x] number of times your in-stock supply of sperm allows for.
    This also solves the sodomy issue, since now you can have sperm on hand for any form and position of sex!
    Still have to figure out that homosexuality bit, though. Hmmmm.

  4. 6

    I likes it, I likes it. Both as a practical idea and as a mind-opening exercise.

    I wonder how many of the manly men are going to be horrified at the concept of shooting blanks. When their magic man-juice is no longer capable of forcing women to suffer, there may be no point to sex for some guys.

  5. 8

    I want to invest in frozen pea companies before this goes through. Sales are going to go through the roof!

    It’s not always a simple doctor visit. I actually had to have two vasectomies, I had 3 vas and they missed one. The second operation is a bit more involved, it’s under general and they pop the suckers out to look for what they missed the first time. I’d still do it again in a heartbeat, and even with this second op it’s less invasive than Essure and far less invasive than tubal ligation.

    My vasectomy was one of the places where a real MRA (vs. the misogynists that call themselves that) is needed. I actually had to go through several doctors before I got one (no children), and the one I eventually did find wouldn’t have done it if I hadn’t been married or any younger. My wife needed to sign a permission slip.

  6. 10

    Nonsense! I’m sure they’ll be very relieved that they no longer have the burden of having to have sex to have children. Because, of course, that’s the only reason they ever have sex. No one is getting any pleasure out of it. Nope, nope, nope. Really.

  7. 11

    Heh, the only way I want to re-debate abortion rights is if someone has something new to say. This is a refreshing change from rehashing the same old shit.

    Let’s let cis men struggle to make the best case for bodily autonomy. I could use a break.

  8. 12

    Sounds like a good idea, but the “Pro-Life!!!!” crowd would scream even louder than they do now. They aren’t really pro-life but pro-misery, so the last thing they want is to eliminate unwanted pregnancies.

  9. 13

    Ignoring the tongue-in-cheek, obvious is obvious, this is untenable.

    For human spermatozoa, the longest reported successful storage with this method is 21 years.

    . “this method” being “semen cryopreservation”. You can do the googling math.

    Macho Picasso fathered a child over 90.

  10. rq

    But they’re safe from all the sperm-jackers… Unless, of course, ‘all the eggs in one basket’ – the spermjackers only have to raid a single storage facility to have all the sperm they’ll ever want.

  11. rq

    All they have to do is invest in extra science to improve the length of viable cryopreservation. How hard can that be? Science does amazing things all the time, and this is a comparatively simple problem.

    (So this is untenable – yet somehow limiting/outlawing abortion is… tenable? *tsk tsk* I can see you’re not getting into the spirit of this discussion.)

  12. 16

    I had to sign a permission slip for my husband, too. And needed counselling, despite the fact that we had three children under three, and delivering the last of those pregnancies had nearly killed me.

    But the operation wasn’t a success (there is a known failure rate); a few years later, we had twins. And shortly after that I had a hysterectomy.

    I believe that the vasectomy method has changed somewhat since the mid-eighties and it may be more reliable these days.

  13. 17

    Hey, it would level the playing field, too!
    Because now men’s reproductive window would get closer to women’s reproductive window!
    No more 45+ guys who never wanted kids suddenly dumping their 45+ wife and hooking up with a younger, more fertile woman because suddenly they have thought about it and changed their mind!
    Healthier, happier realtionships!
    Less divorce!
    More young women for young men (MRAs should be happy)!

  14. 18

    Even then, men are safe from any legal responsibility. Any legitimate use of sperm will be on record at the clinic, so it will be trivial for a man to prove that didn’t consent to that use of his sperm. Law suits concerning paternity or child support simply won’t happen anymore, since a quick check of the records will settle the matter beyond any doubt.

    No manly-man will ever be tricked into supporting another man’s child ever again. Guys, why aren’t you lining up?

  15. 19

    I’ve heard similar things from others (men and women) who wanted to get sterilizations procedures done. Apparently, the idea that you don’t want any children is quite alien to some people.

  16. 20

    As a man with a vasectomy, I strongly support this idea. I never again have to worry about getting a woman pregnant. I’ve spawned once, and only once. Never again!

  17. 21

    Seriously? The doctors who refused should be disciplined by their clinics. What fucking business of theirs is it if you’re married or not?

  18. 22

    Brilliant. This solution also addresses the problem of spontaneous abortions — which is an issue that the anti-abortion crowd generally ignores (and which is a huge display of hypocrisy on their part).

  19. 23

    hooking up with a younger, more fertile woman

    I certainly hope you live in the same meatspace as yours truely. My recent lover may be younger, but she doesn’t deserve your dismissal as not being able to choose for herself.

  20. 24

    This system would also provide a wealth of potential sperm donors, so male infertility would quickly become a non-issue. Are your stored guys not swimming anymore? Just ask for a donation from the younger generation.

    You might even make such donations mandatory; a public duty to help out your fellow citizens. If a vasectomy is an acceptable imposition on bodily autonomy, then handing over a few sperm cells (that have already been harvested) is certainly not an extreme violation.

    We could agree that just as every man stores some sperm for his own future, one donation must also be made to society in general; a sperm tithe. This would not only solve any problems relating to long-term storage, it would also provide existing childless couples with a much easier access to a greater variety of sperm donors.

    People would hardly notice the difference. After all, whether the lab uses sperm from one tube or the other makes no difference to the direct experience of the couple getting the child. It might actually result in changing attitudes about “my children”. Genetics would be increasingly separated from child rearing. That might not be a bad thing at all.

    You see a problem. I see an opportunity.

  21. 25

    Huh? Could you please quote the part where Giliell dismissed the younger woman as “not being able to choose for herself”, because I can’t quite find it.

  22. 26

    Gena Corea, in her book The Hidden Malpractice, says that as late as the 1970s some hospitals still used the “Rule of 120” — a woman could not be (voluntarily) sterilized unless her age multiplied by the number of her children equaled 120. (That was for well-to-do white women, of course. Poor WOC could be told, after giving birth and while still hazy from anesthesia, that the doctors were going to take “a stitch in the vagina” to prevent pregnancy, or could be coerced into authorizing their teenaged daughters’ sterilizations by signing a form they thought authorized “shots”.)

  23. rq

    I love this solution.
    Even though you’re almost contradicting your own ‘supporting another man’s child’ issue upstream. (But yeah, there’s a difference, I’m sure, between unknowingly supporting another man’s child, and using another man’s sperm to make your own child. :) )

  24. 29

    Hell, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we’ll have the technology to obviate the need for sperm—and men—entirely in the reproductive process. Wanna guess how many MRAs and anti-spermjakkerz will howl and hew and cry when a woman can choose to spawn by selecting a genetic profile? Of course, the religious nutjobs could not stand for a world in which sexual activity and procreation were entirely divorced, so I don’t expect such technology to occur without social pressure and violence from crazy white men (like Scott Roeder).

    More practically, vasectomies are not 100% effective, and they are also not 100% risk-free to the man. Some men would be unable to undergo the procedure for whatever reason, and even so, there is a failure rate of some small-but-nonzero percentage. So even in a scheme outlined in the OP, there would *still* be a need for on-demand abortions to terminate unwanted pregnancy, and we would *still* be cursed with ‘fetus warriors’ who’d want to make those women’s lives hell. It’d be better, certainly, but it wouldn’t be perfect.

  25. 30

    Well, for one, under this method you’d choose to use another man’s sperm, as opposed to being tricked into it (the eternal fear of the Alpha Male™).

    If it’s super important to have a child by your own sperm, you can harvest sperm directly from the testicles. I understand it’s a fairly simple procedure, since sperm production itself is never halted. A needle is inserted into the epididymis and the sperm are extracted. It’s not an overly invasive procedure and since you’re only required to do it once every 20 years to maintain perfect fertility, I think it’s an acceptable solution.

  26. 32

    Hooking up. Can somebody (of the native speaking community) DEFINE that for me? Pretty please. In my vernacular, I never ‘hook’ up.

  27. rq

    “Hooking up” just means getting together, with the implication of having sex. Usually you hook up with strangers, but not always, though it’s pretty much always a casual thing. That’s all it means and has nothing to do with consent or the lack of it, or an inability to decide for oneself. See here.

  28. 35

    I had a similar experience with my vasectomy. I don’t remember my wife having to sign a permission slip as such, but it was made pretty clear that if we were younger (I was 29 and my wife was 35 at the time) or I wasn’t married it would have been a no go. Anecdotally, the US military doctors operate on similar criteria, e.g. age, marital status, current number of kids. (source: 10 yes active duty, wife 16yrs active, father 20yrs active).

    My urologist wouldn’t have been disciplined; it was his practice.

    I get the impression these policies are a combination of father-knows-best and reduced legal liability.

  29. 36

    So, what’s wrong with having ‘hooked-up’ with a (fertile) young(er) woman? (I am still detesting the terminology.)

  30. 37

    gnoring the tongue-in-cheek, obvious is obvious, this is untenable.

    For human spermatozoa, the longest reported successful storage with this method is 21 years.

    . “this method” being “semen cryopreservation”. You can do the googling math.
    — René (#9)

    Unnecessary. Vasectomy is quite reversible (vasovasostomy) in order to fill up a cup.

    Even then, I suspect (warning: Dunning-Kruger in effect) it would be easier than reversal or sperm-bank to extract sperm directly from the testes whenever required.

  31. 38

    Nothing in and of itself.

    The problem is ditching the person you’ve been with for two decades under the pretense that you “don’t want kids either” because you changed your mind.

  32. rq

    Some places, this is still a thing: when in hospital after birthing (now) Middle Child, I shared a room with a woman who had just given birth to Child #7, under extremely dangerous-to-her-health conditions… After Child #4, she had wanted sterilization for herself, but she was refused, because she did not have enough children, and she might change her mind. (Her husband chickened out of a vasectomy for whatever reason, but she was very resigned to having so many children, and had every hope not not being denied a hysterectomy after this seventh child. This was in 2010, though not in America.)

  33. 42

    Who said there was anything wrong with it? Giliell didn’t. Seriously, go back and read the comment again. You’re tilting at windmills here.

  34. 44

    Let me explain to you:
    Some men are assholes.
    Some men agree with their same age female partner that they don’t want kids (in the worst case of this she actually would like kids but chooses him over having children.)
    But when her fertile wondow closes while his is still wide open, he changes his mind and ditches her in favour of a woman whose fertile window is still wide open as well.
    If you’re not one of these men, then this is not about you, no matter what the age difference between yourself and your partner might be.

  35. 46

    The Catholic Faithful could go for the alternative that the Church has accepted from the beginning: castration.

    It’s even better because finally the Catholics won’t be faced with the horrible dilemma they’ve had to accept for thousands of years: the need for (icky, nasty, sinful, etc.) sex as the price of little Catholic babies. Now they can have the babies without the sex!

  36. 47

    Ah, isn’t it only the misery of women that satisfies them?

    We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independant, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; …

    So, no vasectomies! For reasons, of course…

  37. 48

    I had my snipping done about 15 years ago in North Carolina. Early 30’s and unmarried (but engaged, i think). No muss, no fuss from the urologist or my GP. IIRC, I did have to sign a form that said this was voluntary and/or maybe reversible, with expensive microsurgery.

  38. 49

    Dana, I love this! Let’s get this modest proposal out into the greater marketplace of ideas. I want to hear Fox news commentators falling all over themselves to explain why this idea is so terrible. Much irony ore.

  39. Jen

    Given how absolutely my husband was completely unwilling to consider vasectomy? A lot would have quite a LOT of issue with it. He went without for well over a year rather than get fixed.

  40. 54

    Unless this is implemented on a world wide scale, how would immigrants (especially the undocumented ones) and tourists be treated? No vasectomy thus no entry (or of course forced vasectomy by US Border Patrol Doctors for the undocumented)?

    So if the Pope decided to visit NYC or DC, he would need a vasectomy?

  41. 55

    From the the NHS

    For how long can the sperms be kept?

    The statutory storage period is 10 years, but this can be extended with your
    consent for a total of 55 years. Every 10 years your medical practitioner will need
    to validate the need for continued storage and provide a letter to extend the
    storage period.

    Is there any damage to the sperms upon freezing?

    Once stored, the sperm sample quality should not be affected over time. However,
    in every sample frozen, there is a certain amount of damage to the sperm cells
    resulting in death of some of the sperms.

    I guess the ‘the longest reported successful storage with this method is 21 years’ is due to men very rarely changing their mind after 21 years.

  42. 56

    This is a stunning example of blindness due to female privilege, thank you for making this so obvious! Sure you can freeze your eggs just fine, you carry them around all the time anyway. What difference does it make if the egg is in a freezer or in your body? It is the same egg with the same DNA.

    Sperm are made as needed, I don’t want to use old ones. How do I know the recipe hasn’t changed in the intervening decades? I want to make a baby with a sperm made while I want a baby, I don’t want the ones that were happy diving into an old sock.

    If young me were in a competition to reproduce against old me, I bet old me would win hands down. Why should young me then get the prize?

    On a less silly note, thanks for a thought provoking post (despite the sympathetic pain I felt while reading some of the more detailed comments.)

Comments are closed.