Edited by John L. Long
Reviewed by Sarah Kramer
Julianne and Anthony Cugini met at a Catholic youth bowling league. They dated, fell in love, married, and soon had two little girls. They then decided to postpone having more children for several years, Rather than using contraception as many couples would, the Cuginis decided to use natural family planning (NFP), a method approved by the Catholic Church for those who have serious reasons to delay having a child. They used NFP to space their next two children, another girl and then a boy, several years apart.
Once they had four children, Julianne felt that she could not handle having another child, Friends and strangers alike began to comment that she must be finished having children, now that she had four, or now that she had a boy. She decided to have her tubes tied. Their gynecologist was hesitant to do so, because she was only 29, but she convinced him. Julianne knew that sterilization was contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church, but she justified it in her own mind, thinking, “I’ve had four children and that’s enough. I’ve fulfilled my marriage vow of having children.”
Sterilization didn’t lead to the relief that Julianne had hoped for. She says she had, “an empty feeling inside of me, like something was missing,” Four years later, when her husband expressed a desire to have another child, Julianne decided to have a sterilization reversal.
The tubal ligation reversal was not cheap. Julianne’s doctor lowered his rate because they were paying for it themselves, but the hospital stay alone was $8,000. The Cuginis used money they had saved for a new house to pay for the operation. “Along with the physical healing, Julianne sought spiritual healing, confessing her sin to her parish priest.
Julianne’s sterilization reversal was successful and soon after the operation she conceived her fifth child, a little girl who her parents say has made their lives “fuller, richer and more meaningful.”
The account of Julianne and Anthony is typical of all the stories in this book in one regard: the couples voluntarily made the decision to become sterilized and they all regretted and repented their decision.
Sterilization Reversal, edited by John L. Long, is made up of personal accounts written by families where the wife had a tubal ligation, the husband had a vasectomy, or in some cases, both had been sterilized. All of the couples in the book are Catholics or converts to Catholicism. Some knew of the Church’s teaching that all forms of contraception, including sterilization, are wrong. Others were unaware, misguided by priests, nuns, or marriage preparation classes, into thinking that contraception was acceptable. Many of the couples were able to have more children after the reversal. And, contrary to the attitude that led them to seek sterilization in the first place, they welcome these children with open arms and hearts.
All the couples in the book share one thing in common: they freely chose to become sterilized. None were coerced by doctors or government officials. No one knocked on their door and told them they had to be sterilized. They didn’t undergo the operation so medical personnel could reach a monthly quota. No one held “ligation festivals” in their towns. All were aware that sterilization is permanent.
Their stories offer a sharp contrast to those we hear from many developing nations around the world where women have been coerced into sterilization in population control programs for decades. In Peru, for example, 300.000 women were sterilized from 1993–2000. Some were offered food for their children in exchange for undergoing a tubal ligation. Some were brought by force to the clinic to have the procedure. Others were unaware of what was happening to them, unaware that they would never again have children. Some died after having the surgery in unhygienic conditions. These women were not given an informed choice, as the couples in this book were.
No one is offering them sterilization reversals either. The U.S. government, which funded the Peruvian campaign, in addition to many other programs of population control, is complicit in the suffering of these women.
For more information on sterilization reversals, or to obtain a copy of this book, contact One More Soul at 800-307-7685, or online at www.OMSoul.com