‘Permanent contraception procedures’ soared after Dobbs decision: Research

April 13, 2024

Rates of people seeking permanent contraception spiked after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, new research shows.  

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Boston University looked at rates of tubal ligations and vasectomies among 18- to 30-year-olds between 2019 and 2022 using the TriNetX platform and compared them with 2022 to 2023 rates.  

That platform largely gathers data from academic medical centers and related clinics across the country.  

The findings were published Friday in a JAMA Health Forward research letter.  

Researchers found that tubal ligations had increased by 2.84 procedures per 100,000 visits per month for women before the Supreme Court’s decision and by 1.03 procedures per 100,000 visits per month for men.

After the decision, researchers found that the trend for tubal ligations increased to 5.3 procedures per month among female patients but there were no significant changes in the number of procedures per month for men, according to the letter.

On top of this, researchers found that the average rate of women undergoing tubal ligations post-Dobbs increased to about 58 procedures per 100,000 visits, while the average rate for men increased to about 27 procedures per 100,000.  

The study, however, did not provide the average rate of these procedures before the Dobbs decision was handed down. The Hill has reached out to the authors for more information.

This disparity reflects “the unequal burden of unwanted pregnancy,” said Jaqueline Ellison, assistant professor at The University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health and lead author of the letter.  

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022, 21 states have banned or imposed increased restrictions on abortion access.  

“What we see is reflecting increases in fear and anxiety among young people about restricted access to abortion after Dobbs,” said Ellison said about her research.  

“These changes in permanent contraception rates are really important to understand because they show how abortion bans affect people’s reproductive autonomy beyond abortion access.”  

While most people who undergo sterilization are happy with their decision, a small portion regret the decision later in life.  

About 5 percent of men who undergo vasectomies regret their decision in the future, according to the U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention.  

There is not a clear consensus on how many women regret choosing permanent contraception. The CDC estimates that between 1 and 26 percent of women who choose sterilization regret their decision, with younger women more likely to have second thoughts than older women.  

One 1999 study found that about 20 percent of women who choose to be sterilized at 30 or younger regret the decision, compared to about 6 percent of women who underwent sterilization after age 30.