Utah is a family-friendly place, with larger families and more kids per capita than any other state. But when a couple decides their family is complete, they face an important and personal decision—will they continue to use temporary birth control, or will they elect for a more permanent solution?
Vasectomies are a popular option for families who choose the latter, perhaps because they are less expensive and simpler than tubal ligation. Vasectomies cost anywhere from $350 to $1,000, while tubal ligation costs anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000. It’s also 99.85 percent effective (once remaining sperm have been expelled or reabsorbed) and can be performed in a doctor’s office or medical clinic in less than half an hour. And like other forms of birth control, insurance will often cover part or all of the cost.
But LDS families take more than cost into consideration. The LDS Church has a clear stance on sterilization. Handbook 2: Administering in the Church says, “The Church strongly discourages surgical sterilization as an elective form of birth control,” mentioning that it “should be considered only if medical conditions seriously jeopardize life and health” or if a person is mentally incompetent.
Even with a largely LDS population, many Utahans are electing for permanent birth control. In a 2005 study, more than a third of Utahans reported sterilization as their primary form of birth control, with 17.3 percent choosing vasectomies and 19.4 percent choosing tubal ligation.