This is a statement about routine infant circumcision. It is not about voluntary adult circumcision, or a truly medically necessary circumcision. Though, most of the circumcisions that U.S. doctors say are "medically necessary" really aren't necessary at all... This is all because U.S. doctors are ignorant about the proper care of the intact (not circumcised) penis, and frequently give parents incorrect advice about caring for one. I have no problem with an adult who chooses to be circumcised, but I do have a problem with an adult who makes that decision for a child.
Well before my son was born, I thoroughly investigated the practice of routine infant circumcision. I discovered it to be a brutal, painful and inhumane act. My husband & I believe parents do not have the right to make such an alteration to any child's body, male or female. That is something for them to decide when they are older. We are merely the guardian/custodian of our child's body, not its owner.
A circumcision takes anywhere from 12 - 20 minutes, and 1/3 to 1/2 of TOTAL penile skin is removed. There is also considerable evidence that babies experience extreme pain and stress during a circumcision which, unfortunately, is performed the majority of the time without any anesthesia whatsoever. A recent poll of Doctors that preform circumcisions showed that only 45% used any kind of pain relief. This is even after the American Academy of Pediatrics, in their March 1999 Circumcision Policy, stated that analgesia has been found to be safe and effective in reducing the pain associated with circumcision, and should be provided if the procedure is performed.
In cases when anesthesia is given it isn't always effective. An infant cannot always be given adequate amounts, or a more potent anesthetic, due to his size and age. Also, the anesthetic injections a baby receives into the genital area are also quite painful for the baby. (Can you imagine getting shots on your penis or clitoris?) Once the anesthetic has taken effect the baby's pain during the circumcision surgery is frequently only reduced, not totally eliminated. Because the anesthetic soon wears off, the postoperative pain that lasts for days is just as bad for a baby that had anesthetic than for one that had none.
Also, consider the fact that a baby's circumcision wound has to heal in a diaper constantly contaminated by urine and feces.
I can't even begin to imagine how frightening it must be for a newborn baby to be strapped to a circumstraint board and have his genitals ripped and torn apart, and what kind of effect that would have on his emotional and psychological well being. Circumcision is extremely traumatic for the infant, there is no doubt about that, because it involves the forceful amputation of a body part. There is truly a definite potential for long lasting psychological injury.
One out of every 500 circumcisions results in a serious complication. About 4 in 100 are either considered unsatisfactory or result in some sort of complication. Some babies experience infections due to a circumcision that hasn't healed properly, adhesions, excessive bleeding, disfigurement, circulatory problems, amputation of the whole penis, and even death.
Many complications from circumcision do not become apparent until years later... Some men who have been circumcised as infants suffer from painful erections, no skin mobility, bowing or curvature of the penis, scarring, skin bridges, keratinization, pigmentation variations, narrowing of the urinary opening, a missing frenulum, and insensitivity of the glans of the penis... The list goes on and on. Not to mention the psychological and emotional effects of circumcision that many men have to deal with.
People are quick to cite all sorts of "problems" with having a foreskin, and never even consider the BENEFITS of having an intact penis. Males are born with a foreskin for a genuine reason... The foreskin comprises as much as half, or more, of the penile skin system, and has three known functions: protective, sensory and sexual. Dr Paul M. Fleiss says it best in his Mothering magazine article "Protect Your Uncircumcised Son: Expert Medical Advice for Parents":
"Probably, the only problem you will encounter with the foreskin of your intact boy is that someone will think that he has a problem. The foreskin is a perfectly normal part of the human body, and it has very definite purposes, as do all body parts, even if we do not readily recognize them. There's no need to worry about your son's intact penis"
Circumcision is so ingrained in our society that it is a solution in search of a problem to solve. First, in the early 1900's it was to cure masturbation, then in the 30's and 40's it was STDs; in the 50's and 60's it was various cancers; in the 80's, 90's and today it is AIDS and UTIs. All those myths have been discredited; yet just as they're disproven another one is created in its place. Even now, there are seriously flawed studies (not the first ones, or the last...) being conducted in Africa that keep trying to "prove" that circumcision protects men against AIDS. It does not, as the only thing that is proven to protect against AIDS is safe sex, or abstinence. By irresponsibly advancing this idea these researchers are only providing a false sense of security to circumcised males, causing them to inadequately protect themselves against AIDS. All you need to do is take a look at the U.S. which has the highest circumcision and AIDS rate of any other first world country to realize the folly of this assumption. Circumcised men are being lead to believe that they're safe from AIDS when, in fact, they are not.
The studies supporting circumcision are either outdated or were poorly done and have major methodological flaws. Newer studies have either totally refuted the old studies, or have shown that their findings are not as severe as stated. Plus, No national or international medical association in the world supports or recommends routine circumcision for newborn boys. In fact, an overwhelming majority of males in this world are INTACT - approximately 85% - and remain intact for life.
Most of the problems of the foreskin can be treated medically, without resorting to circumcision. Other treatments can and do have a more favorable outcome than circumcision, particularly because they do not include amputating and permanently damaging a part of the body.
As for the cancer, infection, UTI argument... if this argument was brought to it's logical conclusion shouldn't we lop off every other part of our bodies because it might possibly get infected or diseased too?
Circumcision is rarely performed in other medically advanced nations, and even those low rates continue to drop as circumcision is abandoned in favor of more conservative medical solutions to any foreskin problem. Infant circumcision rates are: Canada (<20%), Australia (<10%), Britain and the rest of Europe, Central/South America and Asia (<1%). The U.S. is the last developed nation in the world to circumcise the majority of its newborn males for non-religious, non-medical reasons. In 2003 the U.S. national average rate of newborn circumcision was 55.9%. That's more than 1.25 million baby boys subjected each year to genital mutilation; over 3,300 children per day; one baby every 26 seconds.
Circumcision is surgery, and surgery is meant to be utilized to correct problems, not to prevent them, and certainly not to create them. At the heart of this issue is that babies are having vital, functional and healthy tissue removed from their bodies without sufficient cause and without their consent. To circumcise someone without their informed consent is wrong. THEIR consent, not a parent's consent. The forced amputation of a healthy part of a child's genitals, whether in the name of medicine, religion or social custom, is a violation of their human rights.
Americans need to put themselves in their children's place and imagine what it would be like to be tied down, against your will, and have your genitals cut at with inadequate or no anesthesia at all. How can people subject a newborn infant to such a painful practice and defend it? Especially when it would be assault if it was done, without their consent, to an adult.
I think about it this way... If I wouldn't want some one to mutilate and permanently damage my genitals, then why would my son want that done to him?
Just because it seems "everyone" is circumcising their sons doesn't make it the right thing to do. Circumcision causes permanent damage to the genitalia. If you truly want what is best for your son, choose not to circumcise...
10 out of 10 babies oppose circumcision. Shouldn't you?
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Disclaimer: The information on this web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding you, or your child.