The Theme of the Book
Sterilization Reversal – A Generous Act of Love is a compilation of 20 stories of couples who were sterilized and then sought sterilization reversal. It is the first book that discusses, from a Roman Catholic perspective, the destructive impact that sterilization has on marriage and the joyous spiritual and marital renewal experienced by couples after reversal. As such, Sterilization Reversal – A Generous Act of Love is a unique resource for clergy, religious educators and laypeople. It is an especially useful tool for the pastoral counseling of persons who have repented their sterilization. It is also a particularly effective means of informing people who are considering sterilization of the emptiness and heartbreak that often follow as well as the NFP alternative that nourishes the marital relationship rather than attacks it.
The Story Behind the Book
Sterilization Reversal – A Generous Act of Love is the result of nearly four years of effort by 20 families who were once sterilized and then experienced God’s call to reversal. Each of these 20 families experienced the negative effects of sterilization in a wide variety of ways. Out of these difficulties, each repented their sterilization and ultimately found a spiritual conversion, culminating in a realization that God was calling them to go the extra mile – beyond simple repentance to an wholehearted determination to do God’s Will in their lives and restore to Him the dominion over their fertility that they had taken away by their sterilization.
Steve Koob, Director of One More Soul (OMS), heard many of these stories from Peggy Powell who ran a Sterilization Reversal Hotline for three years, giving reversal information to hundreds of callers. Peggy’s experience on the hotline convinced Steve that there was a need for a greater outreach to people who had repented their sterilization and did not know what to do next, as well as a need to educate people considering sterilization about the sorrow and sense of remorse and loss that so often followed sterilization. Steve sought out John Long, an officer in the Army who had written the story of his reversal for the OMS Update. John agreed to collect a group of reversal stories and edit them into a book.
The book’s 20 stories are not about zealots, but rather tell of ordinary people who have learned to love God in an extraordinary way – and then responded to the demands of that love. They describe in rich detail the deep conversions of heart that ultimately led each couple to a profound repentance of their sterilization and a resolve to put right the wrong they had committed. The renewed marriages described are a reflection of the joy found in genuine contrition that may include reversal but, as the theological appendices make clear, does not have to. As Bud Macfarlane, Jr. said in his review, “it is a book about truth-telling.”
As the first book that discusses, from a Roman Catholic perspective, the destructive impact of sterilization on marriage and the renewal experienced after reversal, the book was intended to be a valuable resource to inform clergy, religious educators and laypeople about these moral and marital issues. Given that sterilization has become the contraception of choice for married Catholics with children, the two pastoral appendices that discuss the Church’s teachings about sterilization and reversal in a new, clear and authoritative way are especially noteworthy.
Nearly four years later, this project is now reality.
The Theological and Medical Appendices
Sterilization Reversal – A Generous Act of Love contains two appendices written by a bishop and a theologian that discuss the Church’s teachings about sterilization and reversal in a clear and authoritative way not previously seen in the limited literature on this topic. These two pastoral documents include the essential “why” that is often missing – yet is essential to a complete understanding and support of the Church’s teachings. They also provide a thorough analysis of the underlying moral issues that sterilized persons must deal with as they realize the moral impact of their actions, both before and after the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and especially as they consider the possibility of reversal.
In addition, a urologist and a female obstetrician gynecologist have contributed two informative medical appendices that describe how male vasectomy and female tubal ligation are performed and how they are reversed. These medical appendices also address the physiological, medical and emotional results of male and female sterilization in language that is easily understood by all .
What Reviewers Say About the Book
“Not living by the Church’s teaching on sexuality exacts a great price. The moving stories in this book are not just about sterilization — they are testimonies to the power of grace and to the spectacular things that can happen (marriages become havens of happiness rather than hell-holes!) when couples respond to that grace. Make a gift of this book to priests and Catholic physicians, and you will have performed a valuable apostolic service.”
—Janet E. Smith, Professor of Life Issues, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit
“I was left with two strong impressions as I read the stories of these courageous couples: concern for the inadequate faith formation and marriage preparation they had received and awe for God’s abiding faithfulness in bringing them to conversion and deeper participation in the life of the Church. Inspired by their exemplary witness, I pray that it will continue to bear fruit as it resounds to couples and pastors far and wide.”
— Charles I. Chaput, OEM. Cap., Archbishop of Denver
“I commend One More Soul for yet another outstanding contribution to the building of a culture of life. Surgical sterilization, so often promoted as the easiest path to a “worry free” marriage, has proven for so many couples to be the unsuspected source of a host of marital difficulties. As these twenty engaging testimonies demonstrate, the Church’s teaching against sterilization (and contraception in general) is not a rigid prohibition imposed on us from the “outside,” but corresponds perfectly with the most noble aspirations of the human heart. Sterilization Reversal: A Generous Act of Love is sure to provide hope and healing for countless couples who have unwittingly bought into the deception of surgical sterilization.”
— Christopher West, Author of Good News about Sex & Marriage
“The book Sterilization Reversal: A Generous Act of Love illustrates what I call the “Dead End Rule” – If people do not know Church teaching that indicates that certain paths are a dead end, they will soon learn by personal experience. The paths of contraception and sterilization are dead ends, and this book enables us to walk with those who have learned the hard way and have come back. I praise God for this book and the hope it provides.”
— Fr. Frank Pavone, Founding Director, Priests for Life
“in 1988, a tax-financed survey of birth control methods found that among people calling themselves Catholic, about 20% were sterilized. In 1995, the next edition of this periodic survey found that the sterilization rate among Catholics was 40%, and this was a fraction of a percent higher than the population as a whole! This book helps to explain why.”
— John Kippley, Author of Sex and the Marriage Covenant and Marriage Is for Keeps
“This is a book about true love. Yes, it’s a love story, told in the authentic words of those who love Life enough to take risks. Most book readers can tell the difference between people who are kidding themselves, arid real people who are telling the truth. This is a book about truth-telling, and because it rings true, it can and will change your life. Read it. Listen to your heart. Love and life, life and love: what else is there that really matters?”
— Bud Macfarlane Jr., Ml, best selling Catholic novelist
“…Sterilization Reversal: A Generous Act of Love provides an invaluable perspective for any individual or couple considering sterilization. Furthermore, I believe it should be required reading for any healthcare professional (whether nurse practitioner, obstetrician/gynecologist, family physician, urologist) to appropriately counsel and provide truly informed consent for individuals requesting sterilization.” read entire review
— William M Toffler, MD, Professor of Family Medicine, Oregon Health and Sciences University