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Monday, 14 August, 2000, 12:38 GMT 13:38 UK
'Vasectomy tourist' campaign launched
Bernard Schnakenbourg
Bernard Schnakenbourg: Just a little snip
A charity has launched a campaign to encourage French men to come to the UK to undergo a vasectomy.

The operation, which renders the man infertile by cutting the tubes to the sperm-producing testicles, is illegal in France.

It is regarded as an illicit procedure under the 19th century code Napoleon, which regards it as an act of so-called "self mutilation".

But Marie Stopes International (MSI) hopes its campaign will encourage thousands of French men to come to the UK to have "the snip".

The French still have something to learn from the English about ball control

Julie Douglas, MSI

Its "vasectomy tourist service" will be publicised on the charity's website following a series of unsuccessful attempts to launch media campaigns in France.

Its first vasectomy tourist was operated on in London on Monday.

Bernard Schnakenbourg, a 47-year-old financial administrator from just outside Paris, said he felt fine after undergoing the procedure.

"It's just like going to the dentist except in a slightly different place.

"I am told the anaesthetic will wear off in a couple of hours so I have a little time before I feel it again."

His partner, Sandra, said they had been thinking of having the operation for some time.

"We've been thinking about doing this for a very long time. I am very proud of Bernard, not many men would do this.

"Our family and friends don't know about this but I guess they will soon. We are going back to France tomorrow."

The procedure was carried out by MSI chief executive Dr Tim Black, who has carried out an estimated 15,000 procedures during his career.

Dr Black said Mr Schnakenbourg was brave during the procedure.

"I think he was very brave. He was a little nervous but he's done very well."


Mr Schnakenbourg said he underwent the procedure because he did not want to have any more children.

"I am prepared to travel to the UK to access a vasectomy because my partner and I do not want any more children.

"I think it is only fair that couples share the responsibility for contraception within a relationship."

Practically no vasectomies are carried out in France because of confusion about the law.

A survey published by the United Nations in 1994 put France at the bottom of a league table of countries where men had undergone the procedure.

My partner and I do not want any more children

Bernard Schnakenbourg, Paris

This compared to the UK which was ranked highest in the world, with 16% of men undergoing the operation.

Vasectomies became more widely used in the 1960s as a way of permanently ending male fertility.

The surgeon cuts a tube called the vas deferens which carries sperm from the testicles to the ejaculatory canal.

Some men do successfully have operations to re-link the tubes at a later date, but this is still an uncommon procedure.

Julie Douglas, MSI marketing manager, said it was launching its vasectomy tourist campaign "in the spirit of European togetherness".

She added that the move was also designed to raise awareness about the "archaic penal codes" which prevent men from undergoing the procedure in France.

She added: "Despite their successes in the World Cup and Euro 2000, the French still have something to learn from the English about ball control."

Dr Black said he hoped the campaign would see the law changed in France.

"We must now campaign to get the law changed in France," he said.

While Mr Schnakenbourg's vasectomy will be free, his compatriots will have to pay Fr2,100 for the procedure.

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See also:

22 Oct 99 | Health
Vasectomy health fears soothed
12 Apr 99 | Health
Male pill breakthrough
07 Jul 99 | Health
Vasectomy couple in legal limbo
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