Second thoughts: A doctor's conscience


Issue: "Clinton: Final straw?," March 28, 1998

At least one physician is seeing the backlash to involuntary contraception. Marc Vatin practices obstetrics and gynecology and teaches at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Vatin, a Belgian by birth and now an American citizen, has worked for years in these population-control programs and traveled extensively in Latin America. He has personally done tubal ligations in the region and has overseen many more.

Mr. Vatin told WORLD he never gave them a second thought until he recently started seeing more and more Latin immigrants in his stateside practice.

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Some, he said, are "30-year-old women who have 'made it,' emigrated to the United States, married, and now decide they want to have a baby. They're in tears-devastated-when I tell them there is no way they are going to have children because they were sterilized when they were 20 years old."

Mr. Vatin said the practices that lead to sterilization are subtle-and widespread, especially where quotas have been set for lowering the fertility rate.

"Organizations come in and offer local doctors what's essentially a bonus for every sterilization they'll do. Do you think for a minute that the doctors in these local clinics are going to be terribly discriminating about who they encourage to get a sterilization? What else is the doctor going to do? Or is he necessarily going to be careful? I see some really botched sterilizations. It's like 'We can do this right now, you can be home this evening and your husband will never know the difference.' It reminds me of Daniel Boone bringing in a string of Indian ears to the Kentucky governor."


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