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Big Rise in Young Adults Undergoing Permanent Sterilization After Dobbs Decision
  • Posted April 12, 2024

Big Rise in Young Adults Undergoing Permanent Sterilization After Dobbs Decision

An increasing number of young men and women have decided they never want parenthood in the wake of the Dobbs decision revoking the constitutional right to an abortion, a new study finds.

The number of young adults opting to undergo a permanent sterilization procedure abruptly increased nationwide following the June 2022 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that overturned Roe v. Wade, researchers report April 12 in the journal JAMA Health Forum.

Young women in particular had twice the increased rate in tubal sterilizations compared to the rise in vasectomies among young men, researchers found.

“The major difference in patterns of these two procedures likely reflects the fact that young women are overwhelmingly responsible for preventing pregnancy and disproportionately experience the health, social and economic consequences of abortion bans,” said lead researcher Jacqueline Ellison. She's assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.

This is the first study to assess how Dobbs changed young adults' choices related to permanent contraception, the researchers said.

Prior to Dobbs, rates of permanent sterilization among people 18 to 30 were slowly increasing at a rate of 2.8 per 100,000 person-months for women and 1 per 100,000 person-months for men, according to national medical record data from academic medical centers.

But after the Supreme Court decision, the rate leapt by 58 procedures per 100,000 person-months for women and 27 per 100,000 person-months for men, results show.

“The abrupt increase in permanent contraception rates may indicate a policy-induced change in contraceptive preferences,” the research team concluded in a university news release. “Dobbs may have also increased a sense of urgency among individuals who were interested in permanent contraception before the decision.”

Over time, tubal sterilizations for women continued to increase, but the jump in vasectomies among men did not, researchers found.

The results are striking because, compared to vasectomies, tubal ligation procedures are far more complex surgeries and two to six times more expensive, Ellison said.

More information

Planned Parenthood has more about sterilization.

SOURCE: University of Pittsburgh, news release, April 12, 2024

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