8 Reasons to Stop Asking, “When Are You Having Kids?”

Don't Ask About PregnancyBefore my partner and I got married it was a constant stream of questions like, “When are you getting married?” The questions and comments about our relationship’s legal status was tiring, even emotional at times. Well, now we’re married, and a new inquiry dominates: When are you going to have kids?
The question isn’t, “Do you plan on having kids?” No, people assume it’s a given. At least once a week someone asks “when when we are having kids. The people who ask mean well, but it’s time to really think about how serious (and private) questions about conception are, and why you should stop asking. Here are some situations to consider before you pester a couple about kids…

1. I’m pregnant, but don’t want to disclose for because of viability concerns.

A lot of pregnant folks wait until they pass the first-trimester mark to share news about pregnancy. Risk of miscarriage decreases with each passing week of fetal development, so a lot of expectant parents keep a lid on the big news until the fetus is developing normally.

2. Fertility issues might be a barrier to conception.

Pregnancy can’t occur without healthy sperm and eggs. It’s just a biological fact. It’s also a fact that some people have health conditions (like endometriosis) that seriously limit conception. Or how about a low sperm-count? That can make pregnancy tough too. And some people don’t just live with fertility complications, but total, non-elective sterility.
Do you know a couple’s fertility status? Nope? Then maybe it’s best not to ask.

3. I might not want kids at all.

It is perfectly normal, and perfectly healthy to want to forego kids altogether. Read that sentence again, folks. Some people just don’t want kids, and they shouldn’t be forced to defend their choice at every turn.

4. Maybe I want kids, but my partner doesn’t.

Ouch. Just reading number four should make you cringe for asking a couple about their parental prospects. What if papa is ready for fatherhood, but mama just doesn’t see it happening? Does the couple split up? Stick together? Try foster care? None of the above?
Those questions are all really tricky, right? Right. So don’t force people to answer them on the spot because of your nosey questions.

5. Adoption papers are in, but we won’t know until they arrive.

Have you ever considered that a person doesn’t want biological children? Some folks have genetic conditions they don’t want to pass down, and others just don’t want to go through pregnancy. Either way, adoption is a tumultuous time, and it’s best to be mindful, because the adoption process is an emotional rollercoaster.

6. I miscarried recently.

Remember number one–that whole viability thing? Pregnancies terminate on their own sometimes, and you might not know it happened to a person. Unsolicited haranguing about when someone is going to conceive might trigger a cascade of sadness you can’t imagine because of a recent miscarriage.

7. I just had an abortion.

One in three people have an abortion in their lifetime. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that you’re going to ask someone, “So, when are you having kids?” when maybe they just went in for a D&C earlier in the week. The decision to terminate a pregnancy isn’t always emotional, but it can be–so make sure you’re not unnecessarily harming someone with your nosey questions.

8. I’m a trans* woman.

Not all women have a uterus, and your assumption that they do is cis-normative. Some women have penises, and some men have vaginas. You don’t know the genital and/or reproductive organ status of every person in your life, so don’t make assumptions about if someone can get pregnant.
Of all the reasons not to ask someone when they’re having kids, the most important, and fundamental aspect underlying everything above, is because it’s private. Becoming a parent is a life-changing decision, and you’re not changing anyone’s mind about entering that life stage with constant pestering. Stop asking insensitive and personal questions about other people’s conception choices–or one day someone might call you on it with something from this list.

Share this with the people in your life!

I Don’t Regret My Vasectomy–One Man’s Story

doctor saying no

{Ed. Note: This is a guest post by Scott Morley, freelance Software Engineer, avid trail runner and caretaker of unwanted pugs.}

I’ve never wanted children.

I’ve never wanted children, and as far back as I can remember, this has always been the case. You could attribute this to growing up with an abusive father. Or to me knowing that I’m too selfish to make room for something that is completely and utterly dependent upon me to survive (other than my medically needy pug, Sausage). Or to something else entirely, but the bottom line is: I don’t want children.

Armed with this knowledge, I wanted to take steps to ensure that children didn’t accidentally enter the picture. The easiest and most sensical action for me was to get a vasectomy. A vasectomy is an outpatient surgery that only requires local anesthetic. Additionally, insurance companies are usually quite keen to foot the bill since a quick outpatient procedure is far cheaper than a child. Armed with that knowledge, I scheduled a consultation with my primary care physician and assumed I was only weeks away from blissful sterility. However, as soon as I entered the doctor’s office I realized that it wasn’t going to be easy. Although I knew what I wanted and was completely committed to my decision, my physician did not support my choice. 

Too young for healthcare, but not a child.

My doctor said that twenty-three was too young to know what I really wanted. He assured me that everyone changes their mind as they get older. I asked if it was common to deny this procedure and my doctor said it was standard to ask people to wait until they were older. He also insisted that another doctor was likely to give me the same answer. “Older” is a very vague term, and I wasn’t able to get a definitive answer about just when I would be “old enough.” I left feeling powerless, overwhelmed by the inability to make my own life decisions.

It wasn’t until twenty-eight that I received the “blessing” from my physician. Why twenty-eight was old enough to make such a decision wasn’t ever clear to me, but I wasn’t going to argue the point (it is worth noting that an entirely different set of clandestine rules apply if you have a uterus and want to make a similar decision). I scheduled an appointment with the specialist described to me as, “The Ikea of Vasectomies.”

The long-awaited procedure.

After five years of waiting, I was pretty much bouncing on my toes when the appointment arrived. Doctor Ikea was very knowledgable and we discussed various types of vasectomies that could be performed. The first and most easily reversible was to simply tie a knot in the vas deferens. This is also the least foolproof and reliable procedure. The second option was to cut and cauterize the vas deferens which could potentially be reversed and was very reliable. The final option, and the one that I chose, was to cut a large section of the vas deferens out and to cauterize both ends. The doctor had never successfully reversed this last type and only had one instance where it wasn’t effective. In that case the patient had a third vas deferens which wasn’t discovered during the initial procedure (poor guy!). Feeling confident with my selection, I scheduled the operation.

On the morning of the procedure, I arrived feeling relaxed and completely ready to go under the knife. It took place in a chair similar to what you would sit in at the dentist. The doctor asked if I would like to watch, and of course, I did. He quickly made a small incision for each vas deferens tube, removed a section and then cauterized the ends. It was that simple. I don’t remember how many dissolvable stitches I received but it couldn’t have been more than a handful. I didn’t feel any pain other than the initial shots and couldn’t believe how quickly it was over. I left with a numbness that quickly faded to a dull ache. The ache persisted for the next two days but it was nothing that a couple of ibuprofen couldn’t handle.

After my vasectomy.

Sex after the vasectomy was painless. I noticed a slight feeling of pressure during orgasm for the next month but nothing after that. That sensation has only briefly returned twice after periods of being single without a sexual partner. I have never regretted my vasectomy and have nothing but gratitude for the ability to control my own reproductive destiny. Although I can now understand wanting to see the person that a child would grow into (particularly when you have someone in your life that you believe would raise an amazing human being), I wouldn’t make a different choice today. It was the best $15 dollars, my insurance co-pay at the time, that I ever spent.

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Planned Parenthood Is Hiring (You Should Apply)

plannedparenthood

UPDATE: This position has been filled. Thanks to everyone who applied. SLC Feminist readers gave PPAU dozens of qualified resumes! 

Are you fired up about Governor Herbert’s bone-headed decision to divert funds from Planned Parenthood? Are you looking for a job? The Planned Parenthood Association of Utah is hiring a community engagement and advocacy coordinator! The job description is below. To apply send a cover letter and a resume to jobs{at}ppau{dot}org. 

Position: Community Engagement and Advocacy Coordinator

Position Summary:

Planned Parenthood Association of Utah (PPAU) is looking for a highly motivated, responsible, outgoing, creative, pro-choice person with organizing experience to coordinate our community engagement programs across the state. The Community Engagement and Advocacy Coordinator will be responsible for cultivating and managing activists, volunteers and interns to build capacity and infrastructure. This position will identify, organize and educate a new generation of members and supporters of reproductive justice. Must have own transportation and is willing to travel; able to work flexible hours, including evenings and weekends. Qualified candidates will have experience with managing volunteers and organizing for political and social change. [Read more…]

Planned Parenthood Supporters Rally At Utah Capitol

Rally at capitolPlanned Parenthood supporters flooded the Utah State Capitol last night, many wearing pink, some holding signs, and all of them pissed off about Governor Gary R. Herbert’s decision to put politics over good policy by cutting funding for abstinence education, STI screenings, and reparations for victims of sexual assault. Over a thousand people (or more by my estimate) showed up to #StandWithPP at Tuesday’s press conference where Planned Parenthood CEO, Karrie Galloway kicked the night off with a stern reminder that “The governor has chosen politics over health care.”

Herbert’s decision is clearly political–funding cuts came the night before the Utah Republican State Convention. Speakers throughout the night reiterated that this decision isn’t about abortion services, because none of the diverted money funded abortion–only medical procedures and education services. Candidate for House District 9, Steve Olson, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, aptly pointed out that Herbert’s decision will likely cause an increase in abortions because of service cuts.

One of the night’s most powerful stories came from Leah Weisgal, President of Westminster’s Students for Choice, and a former recipient of Planned Parenthood’s services. Leah’s overcame heroin addiction, and went on to thrive in higher education, which she credits to the life-saving abortion she received from Planned Parenthood at age fourteen (Weisgal was a victim of abuse). Several other student activists shared their stories about the transformative power of Planned Parenthood’s after-school education programs, which are the most impacted by Herbert’s funding cuts.

But it wasn’t all students and service recipients at the rally, several politicians came out to show their support, including: Representative Angela Romero (D), Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D), and Senator Jim Dabakis (D) to name a few. Representative Romero recalled moving to Salt Lake City from Tooele as a young adult without healthcare, and Planned Parenthood was the only place she could go for her annual gynecological exam. Romero made it clear that she stood in front of the crowd as a practicing Catholic, but that her religious views and her support of the organization go hand-in-hand.

Everyone present did a great job, but the speaker who stole the show was the passionate and irreverent, Reverend Topher Mehlhoff. Mehlhoff, is a Christian Minister in Salt Lake City who is a vocal supporter of a woman’s right to choose. He came to remind the throngs of people that:

Opponents of PP do not have a monopoly on the God who cares for everyone. So next time you hear someone shooting their mouth off about what God hates, please, tell them from me: Do NOT use my Lord’s name is vain.

Topher explained to  everyone, including the handful of anti-choice protestors in the crowd, that the God he believes in supports free agency:

This God is for pregnancy testing for poor women and families. This God is for diagnosing and treating diseases in victims of rape and sexual assault. This god is for educating women about their bodies. This God is for women. 

The night ended with stories from the crowd about how Planned Parenthood has positively impacted their lives–a perfect way to round out the evening in front of what Representative Romero repeatedly called, “the people’s house.” As of this article Governor Herbert has not changed his position. I urge you to continue writing his office, it only takes a minute, and you can use these tips on how to write public officials. Keep an eye out for more updates on how you can support your local Planned Parenthood clinic, and thank you to everyone who showed up Tuesday night!

Urgent: Governor Herbert Diverts Planned Parenthood Funding

Govenor-Gary-Herbert-UtahGovernor Gary R. Herbert ordered agencies to stop sending federal funds to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. What does this mean? According to the Governor’s office, these are the funds being held hostage:

Planned Parenthood’s budget for fiscal 2015 includes about $100,000 for STD testing and reporting, $115,000 for “abstinence education and personal responsibility education” and $1,339 for providing pregnancy tests and STD screenings to victims of rape and sexual assault.

Gary Herbert is putting Utahns at risk for purely political reasons. I urge you to contact his office. Here are some tips for writing to public officials:

  • Use their official title

  • Let them know if you are a constituent

  • Be polite, no personal attacks

  • Get to the point–include your topic, concerns, and a quick fact to make your point

  • Be direct and keep it brief

  • Ask them to contact you—include your contact information

Feel free to copy and paste my statement below and switch out your name and include contact information:

Governor Herbert,

I am usually a proud Utahn, but today I am ashamed. I am ashamed that the governor of my home state put politics over women’s health. Planned Parenthood provides invaluable healthcare and education to Utah’s most vulnerable populations. Planned Parenthood uses its federal funds appropriately, and it uses them well. You are playing politics with the lives of your constituents.

I am appalled, and I urge you to re-think your decision

Sincerely,

Chelsea Kilpack, West Jordan

Governor Herbert reports to us! Let him know he’s doing a bad job!