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Planned Parenthood will offer low-cost vasectomies in Phoenix

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Planned Parenthood will offer low-cost vasectomies in Phoenix

Apr 02, 2024 | 6:28 pm ET
By Gloria Rebecca Gomez
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Planned Parenthood will offer low-cost vasectomies in Phoenix
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Photo by Jerod MacDonald-Evoy | Arizona Mirror

Planned Parenthood Arizona is now offering vasectomy services in Phoenix, in what company leaders say is a natural extension of its commitment to reproductive health care — and a critical safeguard in a post-Roe world. 

Last year, the organization launched a vasectomy program in Tucson, a decade after the last time the procedure was included in its long list of services, citing patient concern over the shifting reproductive rights landscape as a factor in providing the service. 

Demand for the procedure at the Tucson clinic was overwhelming, with nearly half of all appointments booked by Valley residents. That trend prompted the organization to set up vasectomy services at its most centrally located clinic in the Valley, the Central Phoenix Health Center near 16th Street and Camelback Road.

Dr. Jill Gibson, chief medical officer for PPAZ, told the Arizona Mirror that the initial idea for offering vasectomies grew out of consultations with abortion patients, who expressed both an interest in the procedure for their partners and fears about the future of abortion access in Arizona. 

“We have anecdotally heard from patients that they’ve been considering vasectomy services for a long time. They’ve known that their families are complete, they recognize that they do not want to contribute to pregnancies,” she said. “They’ve had all of that kind of brewing, and then with the Dobbs decision, and the current political and legal landscape regarding bodily autonomy and reproductive health care, they really felt that significant push.”

Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court eliminated the constitutional right to abortion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, ushering in statewide abortion bans across the country. 

In Arizona, the state appeals court has upheld a 15-week gestational ban with narrow exceptions for women facing life threatening complications or permanent injury, but none for rape or incest, over a near-total ban from 1864. But the Arizona Supreme Court is currently weighing whether to reinstate that Civil War-era law. 

And restrictions from the federal level are also looming: The U.S. Supreme Court last month heard arguments in a case that could roll back federal approval for the most widely used medication abortion, which makes up half of all abortions in Arizona.

Planned Parenthood Arizona operates seven health clinics across the state, and, as Arizona’s largest abortion provider, has been a major player in defending the procedure from restrictions. Shortly after Roe v. Wade was struck down, PPAZ went to court to argue against the 1864 law, which includes a mandatory prison sentence of up to five years for doctors who provide abortions for any other reason than saving their patient’s life. 

Across the country, men in anti-abortion states have begun voicing more interest in vasectomy procedures. One review of insurance claims found that vasectomy procedures jumped by 29% in the three months after Roe was toppled, with greater increases in red states. Gibson said that Arizona men, too, are cognizant of their role in their partner’s reproductive health care. 

“Partners are just really saying that there’s a mutual responsibility to prevent pregnancy, and they want to be part of that equation,” she said. “They want to step up and do what’s right for their families.” 

Gibson pointed out that, while women have a larger array of birth control options, many have painful side effects. Vasectomies, by comparison, are more affordable, effective, have virtually no side effects and last longer. Planned Parenthood clinics offer vasectomy procedures for those without insurance at an out-of-pocket cost of $750, while IUDs can cost upwards of $1,000 without insurance. And while the effectiveness of a vasectomy can be guaranteed for the rest of the recipient’s life, the effectiveness of IUDs range from 3 to 12 years. 

The popularity of vasectomy procedures in Arizona appears to be increasing. In 2019, a Guttmacher Institute study of Arizona women aged 18 through 49 found that vasectomy was the fourth most popular contraceptive used, with 12% of respondents depending on it as their primary form of birth control. By comparison, the top ranking birth control type, at 25.2%, was condoms. Just three years later, the rate of vasectomy use rose by more than a full percentage point, with 13.3% of Arizona women citing it as their primary birth control. 

Arizonans hoping to secure an appointment can call Planned Parenthood Arizona or book an appointment online. Gibson said most can obtain a same-day procedure, unless a patient is covered by state-funded medical insurance, which requires a 30-day waiting period. The procedure takes about 15 minutes, after which patients can expect to spend the rest of the day resting. 

While PPAZ is only currently offering vasectomies at its Tucson and central Phoenix clinics, Gibson didn’t rule out expanding the program to other areas, depending on what the intake demographics look like. 

“We’re going to see what the demand and what the volume is. We anticipate that it will be pretty high,” she said. “If we’re finding in our research that certain communities are accessing this service more than other communities then we would certainly want to try and cater to that. For example, if most of the patients are coming from Mesa, then that would be the next area that we expanded to.”