Do yourself a favour and go read this excellent piece by Leigha Ariana at the Toast, about how a woman named Norma Ellen Verwey trolled the entire country by proposing mandatory vasectomies to the Royal Commission on the Status of women. An important part of our history.
Everything, according to Norma, went exactly as she’d hoped. After being called onto talk show after talk show – “as expected, the moderators who contacted me were either impolite, chauvinistic and sarcastic, or patronising and full of good-humoured male upmanship,” she writes – she eventually got more than one medical doctor to call in, amidst the vulgar phone calls and personal attacks aplenty, to admit that, even in 1968, vasectomies had 60-70% reversibility. Some men phoned in to admit they’d had a vasectomy, and that they were happier for it, while others phoned in to express a wish to get a vasectomy; and soon, the conversation about vasectomies began to change.
By the end of it, she says, no matter what else you wanted to say about it, “No listener in the Vancouver area, male or female, could claim that they had never heard of reversible vasectomy.”
So please, never forget, if you are Canadian or even if you are not, this courageous woman who almost single-handedly changed the landscape of the Canadian birth control story with what began as a social experiment. She endured a great deal of ridicule in order to give this gift to us; the threatening phone calls did not end, though she received several in her support as well, and she was a topic in the papers for years to come.