Monday, November 15, 2010

Micah-ism #1: I want all the things...

I'm pretty sure this is what four year olds are thinking all of the time.
(And most adults.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Routine Infant Circumcision - Genital Mutilation?

Your child is strapped down, confined to a cold contraption.

Their once radiant, smiling, pink face is now turning a sickening shade of blue from screaming, tears streaming down their perfectly round cheeks, mouth open, the screams of pain and horror are sometimes inaudible.

A faceless stranger is hurting them.

Cutting them. Where is my mommy?

The pain wracking their little body is now building to a crescendo, sending their little muscles into spams as they struggle for breath.

Little drops of blood staining the gauze a deep shade of crimson red.

And then. It's over. They wrap them tight. They wipe away the incriminating tears and pass the child off, readying the room for the next child to have flesh cut off of them.

Your child is handed back to you in a small room. They are quiet. They look so sleepy. They hadn't been a 'brave' child. They weren't tired.

They are in shock. Their little hearts which have only just began beating are now struggling to KEEP beating. They show signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Their body limp. Exhausted. Spent.

Their body forever changed, physically as well as mentally. Some of their first sensations having been confusion, fear, suffering, pain.

And you know. It's all your fault.


This is the daily way of life in American hospitals. Doctors who have sworn to do no harm, cutting on helpless children, ignorantly lining their pockets with the money of new parents (since insurance does not cover 'non-medical elective surgery'), who think the decision to cut on a helpless being is their own. Which it is not. The patient is the child. The child has not 'elected', NOR consented. Every human being has the right to genital integrity.

It's SURGERY. Would you force an unconsenting adult into a chair to be cut with little to no anesthetic? Then not inform them how to properly care for the wound? Well, it happens every day to unsuspecting, trusting children (and parents).


We should first look at the function and necessity of the prepuce, also known as the foreskin.

The prepuce is the primary, erogenous tissue necessary for normal sexual function. A retractable, double-layered fold of skin and mucous membrane that covers and lubricates the glans (head of the) penis and protects the urinary meatus ('pee hole' for you non-medical-term types) when the penis is not erect. The outside of the foreskin is a continuation of the skin on the shaft of the penis, but the inner foreskin is a mucous membrane like the inside of the eyelid or the mouth. The end of the prepuce contains nerve endings called Meissner's corpuscles which house the 5 most sensitive areas of the penis. The fold of the prepuce maintains sub-preputial wetness, which mixes with exfoliated skin to form smegma, containing antibacterial enzymes.

After circumcision the glans becomes keratinizated (calloused). The skin becomes thicker and the glans becomes less sensitive, dry and changes colour. It gets worse over time, older males often feeling very little in the glans.


What are the reasons some parents feel the need to mutilate their children? (Mutilate is not a 'strong word' for circumcision'. Please see the definition of mutilate first. Lets call things what they are, shall we.)

1. To be like his daddy and other boys. Most boys ARE.

Wrong. America (in our constant strive to stand out and be different) holds the majority in circumcised males. 80% of the Earth's male population are intact. Americans are catching on, however. Routine infant circumcision rates are down. In the years to come it will be circumcised males in the minority.

If you want him to be like his daddy, teach him to be like his daddy. But sons are not and should not be exact replicas of their fathers. They are their own person.

2. For health/cleanliness reasons.

Many, if not most, American physicians are ignorant of proper care of the foreskin. The prepuce of the penis is held to the head of the penis like a nail to a finger. You do not retract it unless you'd like to invite disease. You don't retract your nail to clean under it, do you?

Your son should be the only one who retracts his penis to clean it when he is ready.

Your job as a parent is to only 'clean what is seen'. If your Pediatrician or their staff is unaware of how to properly care for a intact penis, it is your job to stick up for your child and politely inform them.

Well, you may ask, what about cancer? The incidence of penile cancer in America is 0.8 in 100,000. And then only being fatal 0.3 in 0.8. The cancer rarely originating in the prepuce. The part of the penis removed during circumcision.

Okay, okay, hippie... But what about HIV!? In the most recent study, a total of 2585 males over the age of 15 were administered questionnaires and provided specimens for HIV testing. 916 (35.4%) of them said they were circumcised. HIV prevalence among circumcised males was 10.7% and among uncircumcised males was 12.1%. A 0.9% difference is not medically significant enough to permanently scar an infant.

The American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision declared: "...there are no valid medical indications for circumcision in the neonatal period." No Government Organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision. If routine infant circumcision had health benefits, don't you think it would be recommended by government appointed professionals?

3. My religion recommends it.

With all due respect to all religions; how utterly barbaric. We did away with blood sacrifices and the lashing of ones self, but kept cutting our children? It reminds me of a hazing ritual for college sororities. Except the child may not want to be a practitioner of said religion later on in life. Why not wait and let them choose for themselves?

I am sure there are other reasons (which can easily be repudiated, or put down to simple ignorance and/or neglect) for parents to wish a chopping off of the prepuce of the penis on their son. But the ones above are the most common.


Reasons to reject routine infant circumcision:

1. It is tantamount to torture. Circumcision pain is described in this research study by Howard Stang and his colleagues from the Department of Pediatrics, Group Health Inc., and the University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development: "There is no doubt that circumcisions are painful for the baby. Indeed, circumcision has become a model for the analysis of pain and stress responses in the newborn." They report that the infant will "cry vigorously, tremble, and in some cases become mildly cyanotic [having blueness or lividness of the skin, caused by a deficiency of oxygen] because of prolonged crying."

Excessive crying can itself cause harm. In a rare case, an infant cried vehemently for about ninety minutes and ruptured his stomach.

Often, no anesthetic is used. Shouldn't this be illegal?

2. It is dangerous, carrying several serious and frequently seen complications. One of the greatest causes of death for children in the United States is circumcision. More babies die from routine infant circumcision than from choking, car accidents, SIDS or suffocation in the neonatal period.

Common complications include blood loss (Losing just 1 ounce of blood results in hemorrhage, and losing only 2.3 ounces is enough to put a heart-healthy baby into cardiac arrest.), hemorrhaging, infection, scarring and death. Other complications include concealed penis, urinary fistulas, chordee, cysts, lymphedema, ulceration of the glans, necrosis of all or part of the penis, hypospadias, epispadias and impotence.

3. It is not recommended by any health organisation. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) states "To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate and unbiased information and be provided the opportunity to discuss this decision. If a decision for circumcision is made, procedural analgesia should be provided... The medical attendant should avoid exaggeration of either risks or benefits of this procedure... There is no data sufficient enough to recommend routine neonatal circumcision."

However, parents are not informed, they are given biased, exaggerated information and their children are routinely not given procedural analgesia. Since routine neonatal circumcision is classified as a non-medically indicated elective cosmetic surgery, insurance does not pay for it. Parents pay out of pocket.

(These are just a few, common reasons. For a more detailed list please see 20 Reasons I Did Not Circumcise My Son.)


Let me put it this way. Have you ever seen someone discipline your child or spank your child? Were you furious? What if that person cut your child with a knife? Without anesthetic? Would you be furious? Knowing you told them to do it?

Would you ever take a knife and cut on your baby? Then why would you let someone else do it?

Circumcision is genital mutilation and is a human rights violation.


Thanks for reading. I am definitely open to rational, constructive comments discussion and debate. I welcome all opinions, however, rude, degrading or demeaning comments will be deleted with prejudice.

PS - I am not here to do your research for you, provide you with hundreds of links to hundreds of studies, nor am I here to try and make your mind up for you. If your children are your LIFE (as they should be) then you should always be well informed on all subjects of their lives. It's your job to protect your children, doing your own research and making up your own mind.

PPS - Yes, I am a mother of a intact son. Before he was born my instincts told me that I would be doing him a disservice if I let someone cut on his perfectly formed body. My own research backed me up on this and when he was born, feeling his skin on mine sealed the deal. No one would ever cause him pain for money or unsubstantiated, exaggerated facts while I am around.