Another Vasectomy Question

From a commenter to my post, Vasectomy and the Catholic Church: Search Engine Q&A:

My wife has had repeated miscarriages since she has gotten older (seven so far). We have been abstaining to avoid another miscarriage. I believe it would be acceptable in God’s eyes for one of us to have a procedure that would make it impossible for her to become pregnant, but she does not. What does The Church say?

My response:

Dear ___________:

I received your question concerning the situation with your wife having had a number of miscarriages. As someone who has experienced (as a husband and father) two miscarriages myself, I am very sorry that you and your wife have had to go through this. Depending on how far along into a pregnancy the miscarriage occurs, it can be very traumatic and painful.

I’d suggest that you first go to a priest who you know and trust and talk to him about this situation. Since you earnestly asked the question, I assume you want to find answers that are authentic reflections of what the Church actually teaches. On occasion priests can be found who will put a “rubber stamp” on things that are pretty questionable. Such priests actually make things worse. If you don’t have a “go-to” priest, maybe begin by asking a trusted friend who he or she would see about this concern.

Please understand that *I* am not an authority on official Church teaching. But I can tell you that my *understanding* is that the Church’s view on “having a procedure that would make it impossible” for your wife to become pregnant would not be favorable.

This is because, first, there are other NON-PERMANENT things that you and your wife can do that don’t affect either your or your wife’s reproductive capacity. For example, many Catholic couples, for a variety of reasons, practice Natural Family Planning, which allows the couple to observe the wife’s cycle and determine which days she might be fertile or ovulating. The rest of the times during the cycle the couple need not abstain. There may also be other options that could be discussed further with a trustworthy priest.

There is also a second serious problem that would arise with a permanent procedure, which is that sexual union between spouses is intended by God to reflect the “unitive, procreative, and donative” elements of marriage. “Unitive” is essentially what Jesus talks about in the Gospel when he refers to the two becoming “one flesh”. “Donative” is the free giving of self to one’s spouse, which isn’t entirely possible once one intentionally interrupts the part of oneself that leads to procreation. “Procreative” is the part that brings about children.

When we talk about these elements, we can’t give what we don’t possess, and sometimes that’s not our fault. If a person is born sterile, it doesn’t mean they can’t marry. But we aren’t free intentionally remove our own “faculties” either. Doing so is essentially a rejection of a gift from God. We are, in the moment, returning the thing that God gave us for our own good and happiness and choosing something else that God did not intend.

“Unitive, procreative, and donative” aspects of sexual expression also help us understand *why* sex is reserved for marriage. It simply isn’t possible to do what God intends for us in the sexual act with a partner outside marriage. We might be “having sex”, but at least one (if not all) of the elements intended to present in the act are missing.

When we turn one or more of these elements “off” within marriage, we run the risk of harming the marriage itself.

Please know that I will be praying for you and your wife, and wish you a very blessed Easter.
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One thought on “Another Vasectomy Question

  1. Excellent counsel, Quartermaster, and spot on. So grateful you could give him this advice. Ultimately it will make their marriage stronger. I will keep them in my prayers, too. So so hard. God bless them, and keep their tiny ones safe in His loving arms, until they are reunited in Heaven. Have a blessed Easter!

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