Men of the Catholic faith may not wish to have children for a variety of reasons and seek council regarding an approved Catholic vasectomy. A vasectomy is, of course, a permanent method of birth control and the views of the Catholic Church on vasectomies and birth control in general are quite specific. Does a Catholic vasectomy ever conform to church doctrine under any circumstances? Are there alternatives to a Catholic vasectomy?
Birth control and the Catholic Church
Church doctrine is quite specific regarding birth control methods among the followers of Catholicism. Both barrier methods and hormonal methods are forbidden explicitly. A vasectomy falls under the category of barrier method, the same category that also includes condoms, intra-uterine devices or sponges. The hormonal methods include birth control pills and injections. So, like a tubal ligation, any method of sterilization including a vasectomy is against Church doctrine. The Church even demands vasectomy reversals for those who come to the Church after the fact. Short of reversal, the man can seek reconciliation if he wishes to receive communion.
Medical necessity and a Catholic Vasectomy
The Church will allow a woman to use a birth control pill for medical reasons, but the medical necessity requirements for a man are a bit different. If a true medical necessity can be established, the Catholic Church may make it moral for a man to have a vasectomy. The odds of this surgery every being medically necessary are incredibly slim. There are a tiny percentage of men with chronic testicular infection and even a tinier percent of them are a) Catholic and b) Catholic and wanting a vasectomy. The odds of a Catholic man who seeks sterilization and also has an underlying medical condition that makes it necessary is incredibly rare.
Catholic vasectomy alternatives
The Church stands by its recommendations for Natural Family Planning. The NFP guidelines that are generally taught are ways to recognize and avoid the times of the month when a woman is most likely to be fertile and, thus, be most likely to become pregnant during intercourse. The teachings to couples focus primarily on methods based on the calendar cycle of likely infertile days (the rhythm or standard days method), basal body temperature monitoring, or extending the post-birth lactation period. A less popular method is abstinence until the woman is post-menopausal.
A true Church-approved Catholic vasectomy does not exist and a vasectomy is still a mortal sin at this point. Church doctrine is slow to change, but there have been many changes made in the past hundred years that Church scholars probably could not have predicted. As Church leaders become more progressive and more and more parishioners push for birth control reform by the Church in this world that is becoming increasingly overpopulated, the changes necessary may occur in our lifetimes. This does little to benefit today's men in their efforts to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. For them, the Catholic vasectomy is still strictly forbidden and other methods (or other religions) will need to be considered. A true moral dilemma for a practicing Catholic.
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Other vasectomy articles: