Circumcision – Good or Bad?


I recently came across an article by Jonathan V. Wright MD about male circumcision. It surprised me in that it pointed out things I hadn’t known (having birthed two boys, I had researched this).

So in case you’re at all considering circumcision, or know someone who is, just pass along this short, succinct summary of the key points by Dr. Wright:

Following is just a sampling of what baby boys lose forever when they are circumcised:

• A 15-square inch piece of skin (when grown to adult size), that protects against abrasion, drying, and contaminants of all sorts

• The primary erogenous zone containing between 10,000 and 20,000 of the most important sensory components of the penis

• Much of the immunologic defense of the male sex organ, including cells which produce antibodies and bacteria-killing enzymes

• Apocrine glands which produce pheromones, nature’s invisible sexual signaling chemicals

• Lubricating glands, which protect both male and female sexual organs during intercourse

• Other research has shown that pain experienced as infants alters the entire lifetime pattern of response to pain

Do you think that if doctors explained the risks and side effects to the parents of newborns that many would go through with the procedure?

There’s a group, Doctors Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.), that recognizes that doctors have no role to play in advocating or performing this procedure. Just as little girls should not have their genitals removed, so little boys should be left intact.

The first cut into normal genital tissue violates a child’s basic human right to an intact body. For a doctor to perform a circumcision violates all seven principles of the AMA code of ethics. Ironically, it now also violates the rules of the Nuremberg Convention…in regard to medical experimentation on unconsenting victims.

Please look at this issue carefully and decide whether you want this to happen to your children or grandchildren. It is not too late to protect the next generation. If you do study the facts, and the Internet is a good place to start, you too will have to agree with the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

Doctors Opposing Circumcision has a Web site at:
http://faculty.washington.edu/gcd/DOC

It’s interesting that in our Western world pretty much everyone thinks female circumcision is horrific. The thought of cutting off a clitoris or labia is pretty much insane to us. But yet, male circumcision is viewed with equanimity by most. And certainly most feel it is the “parent’s choice”, not a violation of essential human rights.

I also find it interesting that two of the main groups who originated and promote circumcision (Muslim religion for female circumcision, Jewish religion for male circumcision), both believe in a punitive god.

15 Comments

15 thoughts on “Circumcision – Good or Bad?

  1. I had only learned about Dr. Wright’s first two reasons for opposing circumcision, so this information was very interesting. Sure wish I’d known when my son was born, and I sure wish my parents had known when I was.



  2. My sons are 30 & 32 and we did not have them circumcized. At the time, it was not popular not too. The morning after my C-section, while I was still groggy, they brought me the authorization, already filled out, to sign for his circumcision. Fortunately, I was aware enough to tell them no. Since then, this son has had a son, who was not circumcized. Both of my sons were very thankful we had the foresight to say no in a society that was generally pro circumcsion.



  3. Yes, I have two sons and neither are circumcised. My husband was circumcised without any thought or research – just following the crowd. The most ridiculous reason I’ve ever heard for parents cutting their sons is: “We wanted him to be like Daddy.” Aaaaargh. So if Daddy had his finger cut off as a child, you’d cut your baby’s off too?? Well, just add it to the list of horrors parents perpetrate against children out of ignorance.



  4. Hi Jini, thanks for making this post available. As you know, ending circumcision is my big passion in life. Every bit of education helps and there are now so many communities that are taking this on. I’ll send the link to this page out to my groups so expect to get a lot of traffic. Love Gloria



  5. Thank you Jini for sending it and thanks to Dr Wright for writing it. I’d heard it all in recent years while trying to understand why anyone would do this to an infant, but Dr Wright’s is the best summary I’ve seen. I received a horribly botched circumcision when I was a day or two old. I had ugly scars and experienced pain in my organ all my life. When I tried to get help from physicians I was told no sane person could question circumcision. I was told this by physicians who refused to look at the damage I wanted them to help with. My experience tells me that physicians who want to continue doing this practice engage in deep denial in order to keep it going. They need to do ever more to justify what was done to them and what they have already done. Others who are not physicians engage in “scientific research” to validate their own circumcisions. It is a vicious circle of inhumane injury and incomprehensible denial. That circle must be broken.



  6. Almost 40 yrs ago I saw a pamphlet distributed at LLL meetings and decided right then I would never do that to my son! I ended up with 3 daughters and passed on the info to them, one decided to do it anyway, two decided not to. On down the line one greatgrandson circed although dad not, was wife and her family who pushed itl U was not in picture long story. Granddaughter had her son, born at birth center, NOT circed. So it continues passing on the information and hoping and praying they will decide not to mutilate their baby boys. thankfully there is so much more information out there.



  7. I forgot to mention at 52 I became a birth/pp doula so I also pass on the info to clients and any other women I can! I had the opportunity in my Public speaking class to also give a speech on circumcision – you should have seen their faces!! But now they have heard………….



  8. Thanks for speaking out Jini. There are many reasons why infant and child circumcision has persisted until now, however the era of silence about genital mutilation of children is over. The internet facilitates honest discussion, people are becoming informed. No longer can the casualties be swept under the rug. Every single person who feels compelled to speak out against this obvious barbarity brings us closer to fully exposing forced circumcision for what it is, genital mutilation of children.

    For those who think this is a passing fad, or that it’s up to parents to decide whether their children are allowed to grow to adulthood with intact genitals or a cruel surgically abbreviated version I have a message for you, you haven’t seen anything yet. This issue is NOT going away.

    Look up the legal definition of Aggravated Sexual Assault, forced circumcision of children is sexual abuse of the worst kind.

    The “doctors” who are still doing this, (making a specialty of it when other doctors are refusing) will soon be facing very irate young men and lawsuits that will drive the cost of malpractice beyond their reach.

    I urge every sane person to become informed about this issue and speak out.



  9. You know, from all the comments posted, I think 3 things are really key here:

    1. Information, education –> spread the word

    2. Litigation – what a great idea! I hadn’t even thought of this until reading about it above. But you’re absolutely right – what produces change FASTER than any other method? MONEY. If it is no longer financially feasible or lucrative for physicians to perform circumcisions, they will quickly stop.

    3. Healing – if you feel you are “not whole” then this means you need some mind/body healing (not psychological healing). You need a healing modality that integrates the mind with the actual trauma stored in the body tissues. EFT (www.efthealingcentre.com) is the best modality I’ve tried for this. And hypnosis can work well too. We have almost all suffered trauma, damage and loss of body parts against our informed consent. But we don’t need to FEEL damaged and not whole. And if part of your healing process involves suing the doctor who cut you, hey, go for it! But after the court case is over, then address the mind/body healing you need.

    soar higher,
    Jini



  10. Great article, Jini. And thanks for passing on the link, Gloria.

    I second your endorsement of EFT, and I recommend http://www.emofree.com where you can learn it for free from founder Gary Craig.



  11. Recent research in the Journal “Pediatrics” reports that circumcision is greatly effective in the prevention of spread of HIV and HPV (very common genital virus among American teens and pre-disposing to several female cancers). Data collected in studies in Africa showed circumcision to be more effective in combating HIV than any other measure. World Health Organization is now proactive in its support of the procedure. American Pediatric Association is re-considering its neutral position on the procedure, and tending to support it going forward as a public health recommendation. You should keep updated on the topic.



  12. Dear David, the organization that is keeping the most up to date on medical research about circumcision is “Doctors Opposing Circumcision”. They have current position papers on the HIV/AIDS and HPV claims. Here is their letter published in the American Journal of Public Health:
    http://www.ajph.org/cgi/eletters/99/1/138

    MEDICAID COVERAGE OF CIRCUMCISION SPREADS HARM TO THE POOR

    According to data reported by Leibowitz et al., lack of Medicaid coverage (and, presumably, private insurance) results in lowered circumcision
    rates.1

    We disagree with the authors´
    interpretation of these findings and with their concern that poor babies could be deprived of benefits from circumcision. On the contrary, neonatal circumcision places boys at immediate risk for complications,2 methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus,3 and even death.4 Leibowitz et al. should have concluded that poor children are now at lower risk of neonatal circumcision harm. Further, as their data show, it is clearly not just poor children who are not being circumcised. In some US regions, a majority of male babies from all income brackets do not undergo circumcision.

    Although there is no evidence that boys not circumcised at birth are any less healthy than those who are circumcised, there is evidence of the opposite. For example, the HIV rate in America is far higher than in Europe, where males are rarely circumcised.5 The penile cancer rate is no lower in America than it is in Europe.6 A recent study showed that urinary tract infections occurred in 6 of 24 infants circumcised by a physician (25%) and in 42 of 87 infants circumcised by a religious circumciser; the calculated odds ratio for contracting a urinary tract infection were 2.8 (95% confidence interval=1,
    9.4).7 A comprehensive cost-utility study found that neonatal circumcision´s complications and consequences increased health care costs 742% beyond the cost of the circumcision itself and therefore is not a justifiable public health measure.
    8 It concludes that if neonatal circumcision were “cost-free, pain-free, and had no immediate complications, it was still more costly than not
    circumcising.´´8(p. 584)

    Leibowitz et al. reinforce the overly confident notion, created by the extensive media coverage of 3 randomized clinical trials in Africa, that circumcision is partially effective against HIV. In doing so, they ignore both contradictory evidence and the fact that the trial circumstances are not generalizable to Africa, let alone America.9 Even if male circumcision were somewhat effective in reducing HIV infection among heterosexual adults in certain areas of high HIV prevalence, the leap to recommending population-wide neonatal circumcision in the United States is still unjustifiable.10

    With nearly 50 million Americans lacking health insurance, and poor children going without many basic services, it is ethically, morally, and perhaps legally inappropriate that any Medicaid program continues to fund an elective and harmful procedure.

    We applaud the 16 states that have recognized that taxpayers should not be spending money on this unnecessary procedure and the other states that are considering dropping Medicaid coverage. No state should be wasting money on infant circumcision.

    Lawrence W. Green, DrPH
    Ryan G. McAllister, PhD
    Kent W. Peterson, MD, FACPM
    John W. Travis, MD, MPH

    References
    1. Leibowitz AA, Desmond K, Belin T. Determinants and policy implications of male circumcision in the United States. Am J Public Health. 2009;99(1):1-7.
    2. Williams N, Kapila L. Complications of circumcision.
    Br J Surg. 1993;80:1231-1236.
    3. Van Howe RS, Robson WLM. The possible role of circumcision in newborn outbreaks of communityassociated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
    Clin Pediatr (Phila). 2007;46(4):356-358.
    4. Paediatric Death Review Committee. Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario. Circumcision: a minor procedure?
    Paediatr Child Health. 2007;12(4):311-312.
    5. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/ AIDS/World Health Organization. Annex 2: HIV and AIDS estimates and data 2005 and 2003, 2006 report on the global aids epidemic. Available at: http://data.
    unaids.org/pub/GlobalReport/2006/2006_GR_
    ANN2_en.pdf. Accessed December 8, 2008.
    6. Frisch M, Friis S, Kjaer SK, Melbye M. Falling incidence of penis cancer in an uncircumcised population (Denmark 1943-90). BMJ. 1995;311:1471.
    7. Prais D, Shoov-Furman R, Amir J. Is ritual circumcision a risk factor for neonatal urinary tract infections?
    Arch Dis Child. Published online: October 6, 2008.
    doi:10.1136/adc.2008.144063.
    8. Van Howe RS. A cost-utility analysis of neonatal circumcision. Med Decis Making. 2004;24:584-601.
    9. Green LW, McAllister RG, Peterson KW, Travis JW.
    Male circumcision is not the `vaccine´ we have been waiting for! Future HIV Ther. 2008;2(3):193-199.
    10. Sidler D, Smith J, Rode H. Neonatal circumcision does not reduce HIV/AIDS infection rates. S Afr Med J.
    2008;98(10):762-766.



  13. i think you are all nuts i would always circumcise my child. why dont you try looking up all the infections and problems associated with uncircumcised boys. people started to do this for a reason. i would never tell a mom to be that its bad. i would tell her shes stupid if she does not have her son circumcised.



  14. You are all overly sensitive people with very dull lives that you have to sit around and argue about circumcision… I will circumcise my sons if I have any because it is clean. As a female I am so glad my husband is cut and he is as well. I would never consider being with a man that is not circumcised, I find it repulsive and dirty. I do not know a single woman personally that prefers an uncircumcised penis. I agree with Dani on this one.



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