The Mail Bag
The Spring 1990 issue contained a letter from Dr. Peter Forney of Texas. In the course of relating his practices on surgical reversal of tubal ligation, Dr. Forney requested counsel from Christians on the issue of the advisability of performing such surgery when the prospects for success are poor or unknown. Following are two responses.
I think that Dr. Forney has already partially answered his own question. Most couples who seek reversals want, most importantly, to put their bodies back as far as is possible to how God designed them, no matter which the probability of future conception. Then, if God should give them more children, it would only be more of a blessing.
Mutilation of the body as it applies to transsexual operations is very astutely addressed in the same issue of the Journal; however, I have never seen mutilation discussed as it applies to tubal ligations and vasectomies.
Procreation (the first commandment – see Genesis 1:28) is such a sacred privilege and responsibility for married couples, that in the Old Testament, God pronounced judgment on anyone who attempted to interfere in any way with His design. Examples:
1. A man with mutilated or defective reproductive organs could not be a priest – Lev. 21:5, 16-24 (see Hebrew Strong’s #1320), and verses 16 24.
2. A man with mutilated or defective reproductive organs could not even enter into the congregation of the Lord – Deut. 23:1.
3. Onan was put to death for refusing to raise up seed to his brother Gen. 38:8-10.
4. One of the reasons God condemned divorce was that it prevented “godly seed” (more children) – Mal. 2:14-16.
There are principles from these verses (and from others, which call children blessings) that may be applied to the whole realm of birth control today. Therefore, I would encourage Dr. Forney and other physicians to whom God has given the skills to perform reversals to see themselves as “Redeemers of Mutilated Bodies” – to the glory of God. All physicians who truly want to base their lives and practices on Scripture must consider these principles carefully. The Bible has a lot more to say about “gray areas” than our culturally conditioned intellects would like to admit.
I just got around to reviewing your spring issue of the Journal and noticed the letter by Peter Forney, M.D. I have been doing vasectomy reversals for several years at no charge to the patient, asking only for a $500 donation to the local pregnancy counseling center. I have not applied any selection criteria. I simple review the entire procedure with the couple and let it go at that. If the good Lord wants them to proceed further, they do, and if He doesn’t, they don’t! I have enclosed a copy of my most recent letter [to patients who inquire].
“Thank you for your inquiry regarding vasectomy reversal (vasovasostomy). I have been performing this surgery for fourteen years and have a pregnancy rate of approximately 60%. I prefer using regional or general anesthesia for the operation, but not local because of the length of surgery. (2 1/2 – 3 hours). I use an operating room in either Presbyterian Hospital’s Same Day Surgery or the Doctor’s Surgery Center. I prefer operating on a Thursday morning so I can see you the following Friday, Monday, and Friday again. It is best to stay off work for the 10 days following surgery so you do not stress the surgery sites and cause undue swelling. The pain afterwards is slightly greater than with the original vasectomy but use of pain medication longer than 1 – 2 days is unusual.
“As yet there is no way to predict how successful the operation will be beforehand. We do know that the testicular “factories” lose their ability to make sperm as the years pass after vasectomy, but that rate of loss is different for different people. Currently, a most encouraging sign is to find sperm in the vas behind the scar that is removed at during surgery.
“I do not accept any money for this operation. In lieu of a surgical fee I request that you make a $500 donation to the Pregnancy Counseling Center of Whittier [address given]. There are other expenses, however, for the outpatient surgery center (about $1700) and the anesthesiologist (about $500).
“I donate my services to you because the Lord has asked me to do this to make the procedure as least costly as possible so that families will consider attempting to have more children. This also provides financial aid for the counseling center whose fine work helping women find creative alternatives to the destructiveness of abortion is well known.
“I do not make this offer to anyone who would resterilize themselves or participate in the abortion of an infant.
“May our gracious Lord touch you and heal you of any pain you might have associated with your marriage or family (He is the Divine Physician!) If your beliefs are compatible with mine then you have found the right physician, thanks be to the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Praise God!”
Gregory E. Polito, M.D.