Monday, February 7, 2011

Change # 18 Let's Catch Up ... and Eliminate Newborn Circumcision

Change # 18 Eliminating Circumcision
There is still a taboo about talking openly about the “circumcision decision.” Some parents avoid talking about it with one another. Awkward silence is kept again when Birth Peeps consider it a “personal” decision—and shy away from providing the current evidence-based information parents need to overcome the cultural myths they grew up with, and in order to give true informed consent on behalf of their infant sons.
Or, at the other extreme, Birth Peeps make it “their personal cause” to protect the baby, present information in a charged manner, for example, calling it “genital mutilation.” This language, intended to motivate, sometime causes additional resistance and confusion.

If parents are to give truly informed consent, and if we are to reduce or eliminate the practice of newborn circumcision, the subject can no longer be taboo or avoided because it is “personal.” Babies depend on their parents to be informed, to choose for them. In America, one of the first and most important decisions parents will ever make for their son is whether to decline or provide consent to have his healthy foreskin amputated (circumcision) in the first weeks of his life.

It is an important decision because foreskin amputation is irreversible, painful, and it carries certain risks. Not only does current evidence-based research need to be considered, but also the wishes of the other parent, and others (relatives and religious affiliation) who may take an opposing position. The topic can be so charged for couples that they come to a standstill, while resentment grows and isolation divides their marriage. Not talking about it insures one parent will defer to the other, and this is not something either one can “forget about.”

In addition to evidence-based information, parents attitudes are changing. In one survey parents who chose not to circumcise their sons said “that their decision wasn’t based on whether or not circumcision was beneficial or harmful, but that it is not their place to decide on elective surgery for their child . . . Since it is his body, not theirs . . . he can make the decision when he is older. By leaving him intact, they are leaving him with a choice [and not making him live] with an irreversible [foreskin amputation].”6

In the world, 80% of men are not circumcised. In 2000 a survey of declining circumcision in Great Britain predicted that only 1.5 percent of boys would be circumcised by their 15th birthday.(3) Canada’s circumcision rate cascaded from 44% in 1975 to only 4% in 1995.(5)

However, about a third to a half of America is still clutching to its long, unique, and bizarre love affair with male circumcision for “medical and moral” reasons. In 1893, a doctor called for the immediate and mass circumcision of all American boys, and by 1900, 25% of boys were circumcised to “desensitize” their penis.(1) The upward trend continued until 1971 when 80- 90% of newborns in the United States were routinely circumcised. Nowadays, as more and more parents learn that circumcision is very painful, medically unnecessary, and that they can decline this procedure for their baby boy—they do.

This is evident in the decline of newborn male circumcision in the United States – from 56 percent in 2006, to (possibly) 32.5 percent in 2009 (stats are not confirmed yet).(2 ) A recent Medicaire study found their population still choosing circumcision 55% of the time.

I think it's time to catch up with the rest of the world and stop doing routine foreskin amputations on newborns.

How will you go about opening this dialogue with parents, and between the parents? If you have been reluctant until now, what has kept you from talking about it? How much do you know about circumcision?

In a day or so, I’ll drop by with a few circumcision history and medical facts.
‘til then,



  1. In my strong personal opinion. There are so many traumas in life. Keeping a child in-tact takes an extreme amount of consciousness because there are so many levels -- emotional, physical, psychological, sexual just to name a handful. Anesthesia does not mask emotion, it may only numb physical pain. There are studies that support PTSD Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and document with empirical data that circumcision can cause PTSD. So many people argue for it. I am obviously against it and did not circumcise my son. Being raised Jewish . . . this didn't go over well with some of the elders. This is my son's body, his right to choose, and my mommy learning curve is about keeping him in-tact on as many levels as possible. I usually find those that argue with me do so out of guilt or a need to convince. Please be mindful that this is my experience, my opinion and everyone has their own.

  2. The first comment was made by a known circumfetishist.
    Just FYI.
    (yes, unfortunately, they do exist)

  3. Pay no attention to the circumfetishist behind the curtain on post #1. CircInfo is connected with circumfetish group(s), and Wikipedia is crawling with circumfetish roaches.

  4. If parents were to take a 14-year-old son and, against his wishes, have a doctor perform a circumcision on him, I suspect the doctor and parents could face child abuse charges. So why is it OK to do the same with a new born baby? Face it, the origins of circumcision are tied to ridiculous early religious and moral beliefs.

  5. Circumcision treats a disease that is not even there.

    "In 1999 the Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Medical Association stated that neonatal circumcision is nontherapeutic because no disease is present and no treatment is required."

  6. 1)circumcision is a cultural superstition driven by misinformation, fear, power, control and greed. 2)The circumcision industry with it's related bio-med and cosmetics ties is a multi-BILLION dollar a year business. Money is a strong motivator. This is clearly evident by the thinly veiled pseudo scientific rubbish put forth to support it's continuation.
    3)Circumcision is not a cosmetic procedure. It changes the form, function and the appearance of the penis. Not merely the appearance, as in a legitimate cosmetic procedure. 4)There are no justifiable reasons for RIC, Routine Infant Circumcision to be performed. 5) RIC violates the basic human rights of the child and the man he will become. 6) RIC was introduced into popular culture as an attempt to control and/or eliminate masturbation, which was believed to cause all manner of illness. The early proponents of circumcision made this quite clear. Circumcision does a very good job at desensitizing the penis and reducing proper sexual function, thought it never has and never will stop masturbation or sexual activity. 7) Circumcision creates a plethora of sexual problems for both men and women alike. Changing the form, changes the function. This is detrimental for both partners. 8) A great many men are NOT at all happy about having been circumcised against their wishes and suffer from physical, psychological, emotional and other problems.
    Never listen to anyone who encourages you to cut off a normal, healthy, important, functional part of your child's body.

  7. It seems interesting that it is illegal to perform 'non-medical' surgeries on children and yet male circumcision is overlooked where female circumcision is illegal!