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The Truth, Mainly - 10/05/1998

Story about pill leads to yet another sex-and-intern confession

It is with heavy heart I come to you this morning, my friends. It is with a heart laden with rue, a heart all smooshed under the weight of my sin.

I have behaved inappropriately and I know I'll feel all better when I make a public confession. It's a long story, so get comfy.

My sin is about sex. It involved two interns. It hurt a lot. It happened 26 years ago and the pain of it, praise God, has prevented a recurrence.

The funny thing is that it was just last month that I realized what I'd done was a sin. I figured it out only when I read in the newspapers about the Preven Emergency Contraception Kits that have just been approved. If I understand the effect of Preven on female plumbing, here's how it works:

Say you're a woman and say you had unprotected sex last night. I don't mean you personally. Say some other woman, not you, not any woman you even know, had unprotected sex last night. Preven pills, if this unidentified woman takes them this morning, can keep her from getting pee-gee. You know preggers. A bun in the oven.

Preven prevents that in three ways: It keeps the egg from being ovulated; it keeps the sperm from fertilizing the egg if it's already ovulated; it keeps the egg, if it's already ovulated and already fertilized by the sperm, from being implanted in the whatchamacallit.

The hope is that Preven will thus reduce the annual number of abortions in the country by 800,000. Not everyone thinks Preven is a good idea.

"It's another form of murder," says Joseph Scheidler, director of the Pro-Life Action League in Chicago. Others call it "chemical abortion," and here in Nebraska, Greg Schleppenbach opposes Preven because it doesn't follow God's design for the gift of sexuality.

That's when I stopped reading the paper. Not out of any disrespect for his argument, but because I had an epiphany.

"Well, I too, dadgummit," I said aloud, "have not been following God's design for the gift of sexuality."

Ned, the one-eyed Beagle with the headstrong personality and the mismatched jaws, cocked his head and gave me a look. Ever since we had him fixed, he's taken an interest in any tampering with God's design for sexuality.

And here's my confession: Between 4:12 and 4:19 p.m. on Feb. 16, 1972, in a clinic in this very city, I had, of my own free will, a vasectomy. Yes I did.

And having that grisly little procedure, I now understand, radically violates God's design for the gift of sexuality. Unless God is a She instead of a He.

Because while it's not like Preven in preventing an egg from ovulating or implanting itself in the whatchamacallit, my little operation certainly has prevented certain sperm from fertilizing certain eggs.

You know how it works, don't you? Let me tell you. They slice a section out of your vas deferens duct through which the sperm begin their hallelujah journey to glory. When that section gets sliced out, it's as if a part of the Eisenhower Tunnel has collapsed and the traffic can't get through.

The Truth, Mainly


I often wonder what happens to the sperm when they're blocked like that. Is there room enough to turn around? And if there is, where do they end up? In some Senior Sperm Center sitting around smoking cigars, drinking Blatz, and talking about how they could have been contenders?

Modesty prevents me from talking about all those anxious eggs playing solitaire, looking at their watches, and saying "Just like a man!" while they wait for sperm that never show up.

Two young medical interns, both male, did the job. They gave me a very local anesthetic so it didn't hurt so bad until later. Because I remained conscious I got to listen to their animated discussion of last night's basketball game — while they were using sharp instruments in close proximity to very delicate parts of my anatomy. They got very excited about the game. They gestured wildly.

It was unnerving. I was unnerved.

When it was over I waddled through the front door holding an ice bag to my crotch, my wife asked, "Did it hurt?"

"Worse than childbirth," I said. "But anything for you, m'love. Ow."

Then while she rolled her eyes in sympathy and admiration, I looked noble.

And when it quit hurting a month or so later, I felt pretty good about myself. I often mention to my wife just how good about myself I felt. And she always rolled her eyes in appreciation.

But now, 26 years later, I find I sinned.

I'd like to make amends, but I don't know where those two interns worship. So even if we could blow up some graphic images of thwarted sperm and disappointed eggs, I don't know what churches we should picket.

Here's about the best I can do: I'm an alum of a church way down in the southwest corner of Kansas. Anyone who wants to call attention to my sin by picketing there can call me for directions. I'll tell you where to go.


Lincoln English Professor Satterfield writes to salvage clarity from his confusion. His column appears on alternate Mondays.


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