Why Vasectomy Doctors Are the Leaders of Our Movement
September 23, 2018 Jonathan Stack
People are impressed by the number of vasectomies WVD has helped inspire (over 25,000) and no doubt it is significant, but our greatest success, and the most lasting impact, has been our ability to facilitate and support a vibrant community of vasectomy providers. These doctors form the backbone of our movement and make it possible for us to deliver on our promise to increase male engagement in family planning.
It all sounds smart, but to be honest, that wasn’t the initial plan.
For year one, WVD 2013 set an intention to find 1000 men in 20 countries who would agree to get a vasectomy as part of a 24 hour global vasectomy-athon. It was an ambitious number, but after a career pursuing numbers of viewers that were meant to reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions, it seemed feasible.
Working with a strong and enthusiastic creative team we produced over a dozen on line videos, pursued direct outreach with progressive men’s organizations, made contact with men who were blogging about their own vasectomy experience, and spent hours on the phone and hours more writing emails almost begging for willing participants. We even released a press release asking for men to sign on.
Our motto that first year was, ‘men so courageous we put our balls on the line for Mother Earth’. The back of our t-shirt, if not necessarily popular, was certainly provocative (SHOW PHOTO OF T-SHIRT). Our focus was very much inspired by Dr. Doug Stein, WVD’s co founder’s, whose passion for the well being of the planet is unsurpassed. We learned quickly that although acting as conscientious stewards of the planet is the right thing to do, as an approach to building a mass movement, it has its limits. Yes, there are men whose decisions about family size are affected by eco-concerns, but the prevailing factor is still the economics of parenting.
It should come as no surprise that finding one thousand men on the planet willing to (1): get a vasectomy as part of our movement to save it and (2): do so publicly is a tough assignment. Indeed, by mid-September, 2013, with less than a month to go before our event, we had only signed up 12 willing volunteers and then only in our headquarters in Adelaide, Australia. Things were looking pretty bleak when Doug suggested that we focus on finding participating providers, rather than willing patients.
Accessing his extensive network (he knew pretty much all of the most enthusiastic vasectomists), and the innate generosity of so many doctors in Canada, in the UK, in India and elsewhere, more and more doctors signed up. By October 18th we were 186 providers from 26 countries. More importantly, the doctors already had their networks in place to reach potential clients. While we can’t say that every single one of our quite lofty objectives was met, nor that every vasectomy done on WVD wouldn’t have been done in any case, but as best we could ascertain, we reached 996 vasectomies that day. It was, in our minds, a minor miracle.
Now, less than six years later, with over 1200 providers in over 55 countries who do thousands and thousands yearly, we are well established as the largest male focused family planning event in history. No, not every single provider is equally engaged or committed, but overall it’s a powerful group of providers, many of whom are recognized as leaders in the field. And honestly, the men and women I’ve had the privilege to meet are not just great vasectomy providers, but great doctors. They are caring, thoughtful and well aware that more than just a procedure, what they are offering is both personal and powerful. Twenty-five of them have joined our medical advisory board, over a dozen have participated in our field missions and together all of them fulfill the purpose of our movement.
As we prepare for WVD 2018, scheduled to take place November 8- 16 in Rwanda, we take this time to thank each and every one – for their enthusiasm, their generosity and their excellence. Because of their work and effort, we are all collectively making a positive difference on the planet.