Blog Post

Economic Woes Blamed for Increase in Vasectomies in NJ

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist

A failing economy and loss of traditional male jobs may be fueling an increase in vasectomies in the state of New Jersey where newly released figures show the lowest birth rate in 23 years.

According to the New Jersey Star Ledger, health care providers across the state are reporting a sharp increase in the number of vasectomies being performed on men, a trend that contributed to an overall drop in birth rates in 2008. Newly released figures from the New Jersey Center for Health Statistics show the lowest birth rate in 23 years, a trend being replicated in all but 10 states across the U.S. since the start of the recession in 2008.

"My suspicion is that it’s due to economic changes," said urologist Eric Seaman of Associates in Urology, West Orange, whose vasectomy practice has seen a 50 percent jump in the past year. "Families look at their situation and make decisions. They say, ‘I can have two kids, but I can’t afford three.”

Men appear to be particularly affected by this recession, which has taken a greater toll on traditionally male jobs such as those in the construction field.

Two of New Jersey’s five Planned Parenthood chapters have recently begun to perform vasectomies. Spokeswoman Christie Petrone told the Star Ledger that Planned Parenthood has seen a three percent increase in vasectomies nationwide since the recession began.

At Garden State Urology in Morristown, the number of vasectomies performed rose 18 percent from 2004 to 2009.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the state’s largest insurer, reports a nearly four percent rise in vasectomy claims from 2007 to 2009.

“Roughly a half-million American men get vasectomies annually, making it the fourth leading type of contraception, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the Star Ledger reports. “The top method is the pill, followed by female sterilization and condoms.”

Some experts say money worries alone aren’t enough to convince men to have a vasectomy.

"A vasectomy is a drastic move in response to the economy,” said Radha Jagannathan, a Rutgers sociology professor who has studied child-bearing decisions. “It depends more on your own perception of the economy, and what your religion or culture has to say about it."

Although a vasectomy can sometimes be reversed, it is considered permanent, which means only those people who believe their financial situation will never improve would get a vasectomy just for economic reasons. Chances are, other factors are influencing what is usually a very complicated decision.

"If parents believe the economic problems are short-term, nothing’s going to stop them from having a baby," she said

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1.  What is the Church’s teaching on the use of sterilization? (See No. 14 in Humanae Vitae which can be read here:

2. Is there any Scriptural basis for the Church’s teaching on sterilization? (See Deuteronomy 23:1)

3.  What harm does sterilization do to the body, the soul, and to a marriage? (See

4. Can Catholic hospitals perform sterilizations? (See Part Four, No. 53 in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services