Lawmaker unwittingly emphasizes the importance of men in family planning | Open

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Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Pa., Recently gained media attention when he proposed requiring vasectomies for men once they reach the age of 40 or after their third child, whichever comes first.

The idea was intended as a parody, but unfortunately the joke was buried at the end of a series of tweets and was not clarified until a few days later. While Rabb failed in whatever point he tried to argue about abortion restrictions, he also failed in using the legislative process simply for a publicity stunt.

But there were two unintended positive consequences of his bad faith proposal. First, whether parody or not, the presentation of the idea highlighted the potential for extremism in government mandates, which can work against the core core value of educated self-determination. Second, it showed how essential men – half of the population – are to family planning.

Vasectomies aren’t a polite topic of conversation at a dinner party, but a few years ago I was with a group of committed environmentalists when several older men started talking about theirs in detail. They have remained extremely sensitive to overpopulation from conservation and environmental degradation, even as the broad green movement has abdicated responsibility for discussing overpopulation as an integral part of these issues. The relevance of the discussion around a plate of pasta aside, I thought, well, hey, they’re proud of their commitment to doing their part to limit population growth. This is a good thing.

They are just a small sample. Every day, men around the world take up their role in family planning. Thanks to work started in 2013, there is now a global vasectomy project that has gained momentum with Jonathan Stack’s documentary film “The Vasectomist”, which starred urologist and vasectomy advocate Doug Stein. The two co-founded the nonprofit World Vasectomy Day (WVD) project to educate men and women about vasectomy. WVD works with health organizations to create sustainable and scalable programs, and now includes partners and allies in more than 30 countries, making it the largest male-focused sexual and reproductive health movement, according to their site Web.

The WVD project has assembled a large team that includes counselors in medical, sexual and reproductive health. The group provides training, lectures, runs pop-up clinics, and inspires men’s involvement in family planning in a number of ways, including through the Responsible Men’s Health Club, supporting over 80,000 vasectomies across the country. world since 2013. World Vasectomy Day is now a multi-day event scheduled this year from November 13-20.

Among organizations and policy makers working on family planning issues, the emphasis has traditionally been on girls’ and women’s education. When this happens, the thought goes, the marriage and childbirth are delayed. Additional emphasis has been placed on ensuring access to health care and contraception for women, which includes discussing the importance of birth spacing, for maternal and maternal health. ‘child. WVD’s work has gone a long way in broadening the dialogue, emphasizing the value men bring to family planning. Other groups are doing more and more to involve men in the loop.

The global development and advocacy organization Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung (DSW) educates, trains and connects young people in Tanzania, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. DSW writes on the essential role of men in improving reproductive rights in Africa, noting that “men’s general knowledge and opinions on key factors such as ideal family size, birth spacing and births. contraceptive methods used have a significant influence on the preferences and attitudes of women ”.

In Niger, where contraceptive rates are low and maternal mortality and illiteracy rates high, men in the Schools for Husbands program come together to discuss reproductive health situations in their communities and seek solutions by working with them. health workers. Practical solutions to problems solved by men in schools for husbands included building a house for a midwife and constructing an appropriate toilet when the women said the lack of one was a reason they didn’t. were not going to the maternity ward. Overall, use of family planning services has tripled, according to the United Nations Population Fund. The setup offers men the opportunity to look at maternal health differently and is a way to help change attitudes and actions.

Another example of men coming to the table for family planning comes from the Population Media Center (PMC), founded by Bill Ryerson over 20 years ago. PMC develops entertaining programming to encourage positive behavior changes regarding women’s rights, girls’ education and responsible parenthood that emphasizes good communication between wives and husbands about their families. PMC has had documented success, helping over 500 million people in 50 countries.

So, Rep. Rabb, thank you for putting men back in the family planning equation. Millions of men are mobilizing to do their part. By emphasizing education and non-coercive action, and supporting organizations such as WVD and PMC, millions more will be encouraged and educated to make good choices for their partners and families.

Maria Fotopoulos writes on the link between overpopulation and biodiversity loss. Contact her on FB @BetheChangeforAnimals and [email protected]

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