In the summer of 2021, after Texas passed one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation, banning abortions after as early as six weeks of pregnancy, 23-year-old Keith Laue made a decision: He needed to get a vasectomy.
Laue and his 24-year-old partner, Taylor Ribar, already had one child together and the pair was firmly set on not having another. The couple's decision not to have additional children, however, seemed increasingly threatened by the growing attacks on reproductive autonomy that were unfolding across the country throughout 2021.
Laue and Ribar felt disempowered by the direction the country was taking and the strident rhetoric surrounding abortion and reproductive autonomy. After more than a few discussions about their dwindling options, Laue decided a vasectomy would be the most straightforward and cost-effective course of action.
"The roadblocks were significantly less for me than Taylor who had been on birth control before. She didn't have health insurance and it was difficult for her to find birth control that did not have side effects for her," Laue recently shared with Health. "But also, it's not just Taylor's responsibility to take care of contraception."
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Once his decision was made, Laue didn't take immediate action. As might be expected, the twentysomething was a bit daunted by the idea of taking such a major step as undergoing a vasectomy.
That fear evaporated quickly, however, when the Supreme Court’s preliminary decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked earlier this year. It was further evidence of the nationwide rollback of reproductive rights that Laue and his partner feared.
“When the leak of Roe v. Wade happened, I was like ‘I have to schedule this now. I can’t put it off anymore,’ ” recalled Laue, a full-time TikTok influencer.
The day of his vasectomy procedure came and went without incident. The doctor prescribed him Valium for anxiety and during the procedure itself, there was little pain at all, other than the momentary pinch of the needle when local anesthesia was administered. The procedure was so simple in fact, that Laue was awake throughout all of it. And within 15 minutes it was over.
After returning home, Laue simply returned to life as normal with only two to three days of downtime needed for recovery. In the weeks that followed, he thought little about the vasectomy that had just taken place—until news emerged that Roe v. Wade had officially been struck down by the Supreme Court.
"It felt like almost immediately afterward, maybe two or three weeks later, Roe was overturned. And I was even more glad I did it," Laue explained. "I don't have anymore anxiety now around having a healthy sex life, and that's a really nice feelling."
"Here in Texas, there's very much a mentality that if you don't want to get pregnant, you shouldn't have sex. And that's crazy to ask people to live like that," added Laue.
Laue's next step is where his story gets even more interesting, though not entirely surprising given his line of work.
The full-time TikTok influencer, with 241,000-plus followers, created a TikTok video discussing his vasectomy journey, which has since racked up 3.2 million views—and counting. Clearly, Laue struck a chord with his reproductive decision at a time when the nation is undergoing a seismic shift in many of the reproductive rights that have long been taken for granted.
"I did it because one of the things that really helped me when making my own decision was talking to other men and getting their perspectives on the procedure," Laue recalled.
"I'm really thankful for the traction my video has gotten. But I don't think it's fair that it took overturning a woman's reproductive rights for this subject to get attention," Laue added.
Indeed, since Roe was struck down, inquiries and interest in vasectomies across the country have skyrocketed, according to anecdotal reports from medical professionals. One Florida physician reported that he found out about Roe v. Wade being overturned as a result of the tremendous volume of phone calls to his office from patients asking about vasectomies. Patients seeking the procedure at that Florida medical practice have since doubled.
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Laue was initially somewhat hesitant to share a video with the world about his deeply personal experience. But the Supreme Court’s action on abortion rights sealed his decision. He posted the video the same day the court released its final opinion.
"Honestly, when Roe was struck down, we felt really disempowered," Laue said. "Because the thing about Roe is that abortion rights are supported by the vast majority of people in this country. On what other issue do you get a 70% consensus? Yet, abortion rights were simply overturned and this decision is being forced upon a lot of people."
These feelings further reinforced Laue's conviction about posting his vasectomy video. And with all the attention the video has since earned, Laue is confident he made the right choice about going public with his experience.
"Vasectomies are just not talked about very much when it comes to the conversation around contraceptives and birth control," said Laue. "There's also a lot of rhetoric around vasectomies that's misleading. So I wanted to open the topic up and make it part of the conversation."
The rhetoric in particular around masculinity, and sexual prowess after a vasectomy, are questions Laue feels need to be addressed. Can you still ejaculate? Will you have low testosterone? Do you lose your testicles as part of a vasectomy? Are you less of a man?
"One of the things that surprised me is the sheer amount of misconceptions about vasectomies," said Laue. "I still have my testicles. I can still ejaculate. I don't have low testosterone."
But there's one more reason Laue knows he made the right choice posting his video.
"When it comes to sex and contraceptives, almost all of the responsibiity historically has fallen on women. And now, nearly any and all options women can bring to the table are being actively attacked and taken away," said Laue.
After a pause Laue adds: "It's funny, I made the video for men. It's very clearly addressed to men and trying to demystify vasectomies. But the response online has been largely from women who have thanked me and shared the video with their partners."
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