“Ask a Priest: Was My Husband’s Vasectomy OK?”

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Q: My husband had a vasectomy two years ago. He decided that because, despite having a healthy daughter, I was not able to give birth to a second child. I would get pregnant and everything would look fine until the babies suddenly die inside of me. Since the babies were already big every time that happened, I had to go through a C-section surgery. We went through a lot of emotional pain, including our daughter, every time. No medical explanation. The last time the doctor said it was dangerous for me to go through it again and recommended a definitive method. My husband didn’t want me to go through that again, and he decided to get a vasectomy. I didn’t agree at first, but I didn’t stop him either because it was too much pain to see my children die and my daughter suffering. I asked God to stop him if we were offending him. My question is, given the circumstances, is this a sin? He says he doesn’t regret it because that’s what God wanted, based on everything we went through. What do we need to do to be in peace with God and our faith? – K.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: I am sorry to hear about the medical problems you have had, and the babies you lost. Our Lord has allowed a heavy cross in the life of your family.

Ideally you should have resorted to natural family planning, which is highly effective for the avoidance of pregnancy.

NFP does no damage to the integrity of the marriage and is often an opportunity for the love of spouses to deepen. It requires discipline, yes, but it also helps couples to grow in unity since husbands have to be especially attentive to their wives’ bodily cycles.

Certainly it sounds as though your husband is very dedicated to you.

Nonetheless, a vasectomy is a form of mutilation that is motivated by the intention to contracept. As such, it is not morally permissible, whatever the reasons.

A basic norm of moral theology is that we cannot do evil in order to achieve a good ends. If that were the case, anything could be justified.

But what is done is done. Perhaps there is a need for a good confession to be made. The Holy Spirit wouldn’t have sanctioned the vasectomy while at the same time inspiring the Church to teach something different. God simply doesn’t work that way.

Perhaps now the best way forward is to recognize that the procedure wasn’t sanctioned by God. But the task of helping your family get to heaven remains ahead of you. With lots of prayer and sacrifices and recourse to the sacraments and the grace of God, all this is possible. And wouldn’t it be nice to be reunited with your lost babies someday?

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