AUSTIN (KXAN) — The fans who follow Keith Laue’s posts on TikTok are used to seeing him mostly dance or talk about fitness. However, a much more personal video the 23-year-old shared in June wracked up millions of views when he talked about how recent political developments helped influence his decision to get a vasectomy.
The 58-second video began simply with Laue saying to camera, “So I got a vasectomy a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to walk y’all through the process just in case you were considering getting one yourself.” He posted it on June 24, the same day the Supreme Court released its ruling on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health case that overturned the federal right to an abortion. He concluded his clip by explaining how that decision factored into his decision-making about the procedure.
“Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, I’m way more confident in this decision than ever, and I think as men it’s time to support women and support our weight of birth control,” Laue said in the video. “I know the thought of getting your ‘nads snipped can be really anxiety-inducing, but it’s way less nerve-wracking than an unwanted pregnancy.”
In an interview with KXAN Tuesday morning, Laue said he began considering having a vasectomy after the Texas legislature approved Senate Bill 8, which went into effect in September last year. The law bans abortions in the state once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That’s about six weeks into a pregnancy, a time when medical experts say many people don’t even know they’re pregnant.
Laue already has a child, and he said he and his girlfriend discussed it and agreed they don’t want any more children. If they change their minds later, he said there are other options to grow their family like through fostering or adoption.
However, something happened in May that made him get over his initial hesitation about actually setting an appointment for the vasectomy. He said what cemented his decision to go through with it was the leak of the draft opinion in May that signaled the high court’s eventual decision to strike down Roe.
“After just, basically, the systematic overturning of reproductive rights, it’s nice to have something where this is something that I feel can’t really be taken,” Laue said. “I’m not worried about contraceptives or anything like that in the future, and I’m not reliant on my girlfriend’s reproductive rights because those are constantly, seemingly under siege. We have something now that is pretty much foolproof.”
What is a vasectomy?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a vasectomy is a form of male birth control that cuts the supply of sperm to semen. This is done by cutting and sealing the tubes that carry sperm. Medical experts say a vasectomy has a low risk of problems and can usually happen in an outpatient setting under local anesthesia.
Laue said that’s exactly what happened in his case. About a week before the vasectomy happened, he had a phone consultation with his doctor who really only pressed him on whether he had children or wanted any in the future. Since he and his girlfriend planned to have no more children after their daughter, Laue had the procedure scheduled about a week after that initial phone conversation.
He said he got a Valium prescription ahead of the surgery to calm his anxiety. The procedure, he said, lasted about 15 minutes, and he remained awake through the whole thing.
“I got local anesthesia, and I had an ongoing conversation with the doctor while it was happening, basically to see if I was in any discomfort,” Laue explained. “Afterwards, I walked out. The major part of the recovery was over the next three days where I didn’t really do too much. I kind of just sat down, and then I didn’t work out for about a week post-surgery. After that, I was pretty much good to go.”
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling became public in June, clinics in the Austin area shared how many more people are contacting them to look into vasectomies and getting their tubes tied.
Laue said his TikTok video, which has so far garnered 3.2 million views, has helped clear up some misconceptions and misinformation about the procedure. For instance, he said many men on the social media platform posted comments that mistakenly confused a vasectomy with castration.
“I still have testicles. I still produce testosterone — everything is normal,” Laue said, laughing. “The sperm simply just doesn’t go into the semen, and that’s the only difference.”
He said he also heard from a lot of women who tended to share two types of responses: either appreciation for discussing this topic or frustration.
“Especially in Texas, women’s reproductive rights and health care has been under attack for a long time with SB 8 and what-not,” Laue said. “They talked about how many women have been begging to get their tubes tied, to get hysterectomies, and they’ve been turned down repeatedly. It was really frustrating for them to see my experience and see how easy it was for me to get it and to be struggling against all of these artificial barriers for them to get the same sorts of contraceptives.”
Laue hopes his video will help start conversations about the types of privileges men have as well as what health care options are available to them in a post-Roe world.
Austin’s GRACE Act
Last week the Austin City Council unanimously a series of resolutions related to abortion access known as the GRACE Act, which stands for Guarding the Right to Abortion Care for Everyone. Those included directing the city manager to explore the idea of a public education program on long-term birth control, including vasectomies.
It’s unclear right now how the city will carry out that effort or move forward with it.