Circumcision as Child Abuse

Jonathan McLeod

February 3, 2011 | 116 Comments

I caught a bit of flak for using the words ‘mutilation’ and ‘amputation’ in my previous post about circumcision. Commenter Fat Arse suggested that such language wasn’t the best way to sway people. He might be correct, but, nonetheless, I stand by those words. In fact, I’m about to double down.

Routine infant circumcision is child abuse.

Whatever information parents are acting on, whatever good intentions they have, when they consent to have part of their boy’s penis cut off, they are permitting child abuse. Taking a knife and excising a necessary, functional and useful portion of skin is child abuse. If it were any other body part, we would not turn away and deny the violence being perpetrated against the child.

It is often claimed that circumcision is analogous to vaccination, in terms of parental consent. If parents are allowed to vaccinate their child against disease, why are they not allowed to have their genitals mutilated? But this is a false comparison, a category error. Circumcision serves little, if any, function in disease prevention (remember, there have been no studies based in North America). It is cosmetic surgery. It is cosmetic surgery that, by design, reduces sexual function. Now, people like Barbara Kay may think this is boon to women, but in no other scenario do we allow parents or doctors to willfully harm the sexual organs and functions of children.

And routine infant circumcision has risks, serious risks. There is an increase in urinary track infections; there can be physical damage done (beyond the intended physical damage done) to the penis; there can be excessive bleeding, stroke, amputation and death. There are also all the standard complications that are associated with surgery. Circumcision might affect brain chemistry; it does interfere with breastfeeding.

Even if there are benefits – even if every man would prefer to be circumcised – there is no reason that such a decision should be made for men when they are days or minutes out of the womb. A man can be circumcised at any point in his life. Full restoration of the foreskin and sexual function of the penis can never be done. Allowing parents to choose circumcision for infants is allowing them to permanently remove options for men. And it is done at great risk, and with no reward.

Just as there is a movement afoot to outlaw routine infant male genital mutilation in the United States, so, too, should there be one in Canada. Cosmetic amputation performed on an infant should not be a choice that we allow parents to make. Anyone who takes a knife to child for a non-necessary procedure should be found a criminal.

We do not allow the routine genital mutilation of little girls, why do we not offer the same protection to little boys?

Comments

116 Responses to “Circumcision as Child Abuse”

  1. KAS
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 1:46 pm

    I wish more men, especially those who have undergone circumcision, felt compelled to research what circumcision actually entails and then compelled enough to physically speak out against RIC. Most women justify RIC by claiming that men who have been cut don’t remember it, suffer no ill effects, and don’t complain about being circumcised. Well, without knowing what circumcision is and what’s lost, unless a man has suffered extreme, debilitating consequences, they DON’T realize what they’ve lost and of course won’t complain! Thank you for helping to show that there ARE men out there who understand what circumcision is and are openly against it. I only wish more men were comfortable enough with discussing penises and thinking about what may have been done to them to truly understand the consequences of RIC.

    [Reply]

    darlene Reply:

    I posted this on a related link on a friend’s FB page earlier today:
    Admitting that there might be something wrong with RIC forces circumcised men to consider the possibility that they are unhappy with what was done to them, that they regret what they did to their sons, that they were sold a bill of goods by “healthy professionals”, convincing them to circ. And I can understand not wanting to open up that emotional wound and the possible baggage that could come with it, including potentially unresolvable anger toward one’s parents. But to actively spread lies? That’s beyond simple defensiveness and is actively malicious. “If I had to suffer, everyone has to suffer.” That’s a cycle of abuse.

    [Reply]

    KAS Reply:

    Exactly, and well-worded. The cycle of abuse among those who neglect and abuse their children according to the widely accepted standards set forth by law today ends with the child who understands what has been done to them, why it is wrong, and wants desperately to help stop it – and when they become parents, they are able to come to terms with what has been done to them, and has vowed that they will not make the same mistakes, and learn to overcome the bitterness associated with their abuse and can turn their anger to making a difference for their children and children everywhere who have undergone the same thing.
    This is EXACTLY what is going on with the RIC movement, with the added hurdle that too many medical professionals still actually advocate RIC and are helping to perpetuate the lies. This is a huge problem for the RIC movement to overcome, but I know with perseverance, the support that the medical community offers RIC will lessen, just as it has stopped supporting corporal punishment to “keep unruly children in line”.

    [Reply]

    Lars Reply:

    This response thread encompasses the thoughts I’ve been having the last month, laid out far better than I could have put into words. The whole idea that “something wrong was done to me”, and the whole “my penis is my ego” thing, I believe, are paralyzing to most men. They would sooner deny and turn away from even the thought, than to go down the long road of acceptance and recovery. Great job, guys.

    [Reply]

  2. Bob
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

    Male circumcision is a safe, popular, healthy & beneficial procedure for individuals & parents to choose. It provides benefits such as 12x less likely for UTI, +22x less likely for cancer, 28% less risk for herpes, 35% for HPV & 60% for HIV/AIDS. The risks are about 0.2% and are typically minor & easily corrected.

    Parents should research circumcision and make an informed decision for the health & well-being of their son.

    More information can be found at the following sites:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision

    http://www.malecircumcision.org/

    http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/circumcision.htm

    http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/164/1/104

    http://www.circinfo.net

    http://www.medicirc.org

    [Reply]

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    Even if that propaganda were true, it doesn’t excuse cutting up babies.

    If men want to be circumcised, they can go right ahead.

    [Reply]

    erin Reply:

    We don’t do any other type of “preventative” surgery on newborns. Even if circumcision did reduce disease (which studies don’t really back up, especially not outside Africa, and some show they are not all accurate there, either!), it does not justify it. Girls have a 1 in 8 lifetime risk of developing breast cancer – so should we amputate their breast tissue at a young age? Of course not! And 1 in 8 for a potentially deadly disease is a much bigger deal than a UTI, not to mention the fact that penile cancer (which can be avoided by circumcision) is actually less common than male breast cancer. If circumcision actually does give any protecxtion against HIV (which I am not convinced that it does), why not let men decide once they are older whether or not they are going to engage in stupid behaviors likely to cause them to contract HIV, and then they can decide if circumcision would be a step they want to take in “risk reduction.” I’d still think they were idiots to do it when they could do much more proven things to avoid HIV – like not sleep with multiple people – but it would be their adult decision at that point. Doing it to a baby is just wrong.

    [Reply]

    MrBBQ Reply:

    Funny how the first google hit, CIRP.ORG was not included in your list of links. Hmmmm, maybe because it has the most accurate information on the web?

    Btw, you totally underestimate the complication rate. Meatal stenosis alone is almost exclusive to circumcision and estimated to be at least ~10%.
    Not to mention all those tight, uneven, painful circumcisions that bring hair up the shaft, or loss of frenulum. Circumcision in itself is a botch!

    [Reply]

    Susan Reply:

    Which sites run by which perv (circumfetishist, ‘acullulophiliast’, someone who can only be sexually aroused by circumcised penises)should they go to, ‘Bob’? Brian’s ‘circ info’? Jake’s owning of the Wiki circ pages?

    Who else in the fetish scene owns the other sites? The Gilgal Society? The Acorn Society? Should I post some of the ‘medical’ material these sites put out in their literature?

    Readers, know that wherever people like ‘Bob’ push you to circumcise your child, it’s because they’re in a back room masturbating at the thought of it.

    [Reply]

    Peter Reply:

    Readers, know that wherever people like ‘Bob’ push you to circumcise your child, it’s because they’re in a back room masturbating at the thought of it.

    Oh, I do hope that will soon be a rallying cry for the movement. I want to see it on posters. That’ll wake everyone up, for sure.

    Mrs. Kravitz goes kinky.

    [Reply]

    darlene Reply:

    You’ve run out of actual arguments, eh?

    [Reply]

    Peter Reply:

    After that comment, I certainly have. Mom always said speechlessness can be a virtue.

    [Reply]

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    There is no way that you think speechlessness is a virtue!

    Hugh7 Reply:

    “Parents should research circumcision and make an informed decision for the health & well-being of their son.”

    Tell me Bob, is “to prevent bathroom splatter”, as recommended by Prof Brian Morris at circinfo.net, for their son’s health, or for his well-being?

    [Reply]

    Joseph4GI Reply:

    This is copied straight out of a website (I forget what it is?)

    UTI is actually quite a rare problem, occuring 4x more in girls. When and if they happen, UTIs are already quite easily treatable with anti-biotics. It makes no sense to mutilate a child’s genitals to “prevent” an already rare and easily treatable condition.

    Penile cancer is already quite rare as to be neglected by most, if not all doctors. Children are at zero risk for penile cancer, being a disease that happens to older men. By this logic we might as well take out childrens’ prostate, as it is exponentially more common than penile cancer.

    “28% less risk for herpes, 35% for HPV & 60% for HIV/AIDS” means a circumcised man is still at risk 72% of the time for herpes, 65% of the time for HPV, and 40% of the time for HIV.

    STD transmission rates are much, much higher in the US where he majority of men (close to 80%) are already circumcised, and they are much, much lower in various countries in Europe where most men have anatomically correct genitalia.

    If circumcision protected against anything, it would be self-evident. The fantasy that it does exists only is pro-circ concocted “random(?) controlled trials.”

    Statistics in other African countries fail to show the correlation, proving once again that circumcision is irrelevant as STD prevention.

    And anyway, children are at zero risk for STD transmission. When they’re older, they can learn to use condoms, which far outshine circumcision anyway.

    “The risks are about 0.2% and are typically minor & easily corrected.”

    The risks are not well reported, because circumcision doctors want to hide their mistakes and keep their business going. The risks include too much skin removed, a botched circumcision (this happens so much that there is actually a market for fixing botched circumcisions in children), full ablation (see David Reimer), and even DEATH. At least 117 babies die a year due to circumcision related complications. We can’t know the real number because American doctors and hospitals keep this hidden.

    “Parents should research circumcision and make an informed decision for the health & well-being of their son. ”

    Unless there is a clinical or medical indication for surgery, doctors cannot even be performing it, much less give parents any kind of “decision” to make.

    Circumcision is the only instance where parents pay doctors to have them make them do their own “research,” by giving them links to biased sites like the ones provided here.

    Bottom line: Unless there is medical necessity, circumcision is child genital mutilation, child abuse, and professional abuse of parental naivete.

    [Reply]

  3. Tweets that mention Circumcision as Child Abuse : the Commons -- Topsy.com
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jonathan McLeod, The Commons. The Commons said: We've got a new post!: Circumcision as Child Abuse http://thecommons-ccd.com/2011/02/circumcision-as-child-abuse/ [...]

  4. Hugh7
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

    You’ll get flak for describing the foreskin as “necessary” when gazillions of men get by without it. This does not mean it is “unnecessary”. False dichotomy. There is a broad region between in which it is neither necessary nor unnecessary (“redundant” “dispensible”) but “desirable”.

    The operative words are “get by”. I’m compiling a collection of quotes from circumcised men indicating that intercourse for them is less than ideal. The first part is from men who suggest they are on the brink of (painful) hypersensitivity: “If I were any more sensitive, I’d have a heart attack” (Yet intact men do not fill the cardiac wards.) The second is from those who say “I can reach orgasm and ejaculate [often expressed more colourfully], so what’s the problem?” (As though the destination was the only point of the journey.) They are at http://www.circumstitions.com/Sexuality.html#more

    The trouble with calling it “child abuse” is that we don’t generally use that expression when someone’s intentions are good. (The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.)

    You will also get flak for bracketting FGC and MGC, but you can strengthen your position by saying “We do not allow ANY genital cutting, nicking or pricking of little girls, no matter how tokenistic, sterile or pain-free…”

    [Reply]

  5. AnnD
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    I heartily agree with the article. Though, I think most parents are ignorant or have been lied to by medical professionals for so long about the procedure, they shouldn’t be held liable for what happened to their sons.

    And, Bob….I hate to break it to you, but 85% of the male population WORLD WIDE is intact. Every single male on earth since the beginning of time has been born with a foreskin. Mother Nature does not make mistakes on this grand of scale.

    Why would a body part be so dangerous and horrible that it needs to be surgically removed mere hours after a baby’s birth when, any creature, human or not, is in it’s most vulnerable and helpless state.

    Circumcision DOES NOT MAKE SENSE!!!

    Glands in the foreskin produce lysozome, an antibacterial and antiviral protein that protects men from STD’s and UTI’s. The same protein can be found in tears (which protect the eyes) and breastmilk. Speaking of tears, the foreskin of the penis is most like the eyelids of our eyes in terms of protective function.

    However, as a PP pointed out, the issue here is informed consent and a newborn boy is having this choice taken away from him. His 15 year old self, or 25 year old self or 45 year old self might want the 20,000 nerve endings and 3 feet of skin that are missing from his body.

    [Reply]

  6. Peter
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

    Okay, I think I’m beginning to understand. We’re not in the world of empirical medical research. We’re not in the world of religious or cultural traditions. We’re not in the world of democracy and legal rights. We’re not even in the world of reason. We’re in OprahLand. In OprahLand, it really wouldn’t matter whether the overwhelming majority of the globe’s 665 million circumcised males swore affidavits saying, not only are they completely unaware of any damage they have suffered, they have spent an amazingly small amount of time even thinking about the issue. That just proves they are in denial and are stifling the inner torment and trauma they suffer from (Tick, tick, tick…). They won’t GET IN TOUCH WITH THEIR PAIN, and so are condemned to a miserable life of sexual frustration and, quite possibly, careers sublimating their anguish by building guns and weapons of mass destruction. And it really wouln’t matter what the medical community said, if they agreed with you, they’d be sages, if not, torture and abuse enablers. Meanwhile, you children of light, miraculously gifted with a lock on revealed Truth, see with eternal clarity exactly what it is–child abuse, that magical phrase that opens other peoples’ doors and frees us to tell them what can and cannot be done with their children. Indeed, by declining to follow you down the prescribed touchy-feely, psychobabble-strewn path of anger and resentment at parents, doctors and…oh, hell, the whole damn world…, they are not only resigning themselves to completely messed up lives, they’re condemning their kids to the same cycle of misery. It’s a tough job to stop the horror, but somebody’s got to do it.

    Have I got it? I just have one question. If I promise to stay here and listen to the spiel, do I get a gift at the end of the show?

    [Reply]

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    I’m not sure how these past two posts are not in the world of empirical medical research (the last one was quite sourced), nor democracy and legal rights.

    I’ve touched on cultural and religious traditions (by the by, North American tradition is against circumcision), but don’t worry, I’ll get to that.

    [Reply]

    darlene Reply:

    Let’s pretend for a minute that all the sexual health benefits touted by circumcision enthusiasts actually exist. We’ll just pretend that I actually believe that they’re true and not just bunk. Are STD’s really a concern for a day old baby? A two month old infant? So couldn’t this wonderfully beneficial procedure be postponed until the possessor of the foreskin in question is in a position to choose that procedure for himself, perhaps when such concerns are actually, you know, concerning?

    Not remembering the pain (because you can’t seriously argue that this isn’t terribly painful) of a surgical procedure done without sufficient or possibly any anesthetic does not mean that it didn’t happen. And shouldn’t we try to avoid pain for our children whenever possible?

    But in an adult, who is old enough that separation of the glans has naturally occurred, who is strong enough that sufficient or even general anesthetic can be utilized and who is discerning enough to make the informed choice for himself…sure, go for it. Cut away.

    [Reply]

    Patricia Reply:

    Darlene, this insistence on circumcising babies seems illogical, but if you dig deep, you find that there may be a logic to it, after all.

    STDs are of concern to a baby if it is used for the sexual pleasure of adults… and to be quite frank, that might be why circumcision began. If you study some writings that claim to be religious, you will find that using children was excused by leaders of the original circumcising tribe… although there was no circumcision covenant – it was added by “corrupt priests”, as they say. Here are some quotes from http://www.rense.com/general86/talmd.htm (there are many more at that link.)

    On using girls: “A girl three years and one day old is betrothed by intercourse. And if a Levir has had intercourse with her, he has acquired her.”

    On using boys: “Pederasty with a child below three years is not treated as with a child above that. I.e., Rab makes nine years the minimum; but if one committed sodomy with a child of lesser age, no guilt is incurred.”

    So yes, children were used, and still are. I am a hypnotherapist and have heard many stories. The practice of using children sexually is still very much alive… unfortunately. And it might be that brand of kinkiness that attracts those who circumcise to their trade. Circumcision reduces the sexual satisfaction and that leads to need for stimulation over and above the norm… It’s a vicious cycle.

    [Reply]

    Hugh7 Reply:

    “it really wouldn’t matter whether the overwhelming majority of the globe’s 665 million circumcised males swore affidavits saying, not only are they completely unaware of any damage they have suffered, they have spent an amazingly small amount of time even thinking about the issue.”

    Great hypothetical. But you can’t really carry on as though those affidavits have all been sworn. No good studies have been done, but such informal (yes, self-selected) polls as have been done suggest that circumcised men are much more likely to be unhappy to be circumcised than intact men are to be intact.

    An interesting post at Rational Skepticism from an intact man who’d never given it any thought either:

    “I reckon the foreskin must actually be the most sensitive part of the penis.

    “I’ll just go and check, back in a few mins ….

    “Phew, that took a bit longer than I thought. :oops:

    “Without really examining it, one fails to realise how incredibly sensitive the foreskin is. In a pleasurable way. The head of the penis (mine anyway) is sensitive, but less so, in a duller, somewhat more irritating way. I guess it is the stimulation of the two in combination that works in such a perfect way.”

    [Reply]

    Patricia Reply:

    Haha… I laugh to think that you think that our modern medical practice is evidence-based. I wish it were. It is profit-based and power-based.

    If logic was applied to the practice of circumcision, there would be no way we could justify circumcising 100 boys to ostensibly save one case of UTI. If you compare the cost of treating one UTI in a little girl with $5 worth of antibiotics to the cost of circumcising 100 little boys – hundreds of dollars – and then you add the cost of treating 10 of those 100 circumcised boys for meatal stenosis, you have already lost the argument.

    I would love to see long-range studies of the long-range costs, such as violent crime. If you study the list of serial killers you find that the US has something like 75% of the serial killers in the world. Is that what we want to be famous for? A vast majority of serial killers here and abroad have been from circumcised cultures. And in northern European countries where they notate the circumcision status of rapists, ‘circumcised’ is by far the most common.

    If a cost-benefit analysis was performed now in the US, as it had been in the UK in 1946 – they quit, cold turkey! – then we would not be circumcising here. If you go beyond the initial costs and consider complications, deaths, adult ED, Viagra, lubrication, sex toys, porn and prostitution due to wives who recoil from physically painful sex, legal costs of broken marriages, alimony (trust me, circumcision has created an artificial war between the sexes), heartaches, SSRIs for depression, violent crime due to the unconscious acting out of the trauma from infants, etc… None of these things have been studied.

    It’s irresponsible to cut even one more child until a detailed analysis of the circumcision fallout is performed.

    A study was made – FINALLY – to measure the sensation of circumcised and intact penises. The circumcised penis lost hands down. Restored foreskins came in second.

    We have robbed our children for the sake of: 1) superstition, 2) power, 3) kinkiness, 4) an immediate payoff to MDs and hospitals, 5) subsequent sales of the skin to tissue banks for pharmaceutical and cosmetic products…

    And look what we have to show for it. The US leads the world in violent crime. Due to guns? Or due to extreme frustration, anger, hatred, etc on the part of men who were badly hurt in the preverbal stage of life? Of course, I am anything but impartial here. 1) I am a hypnotherapist who has heard many tales of woe and 2) I exhibited the same PTSD symptoms, as I too was circumcised as a little girl in Kansas. I know the anger, frustration, inability to bond that plagues men in our country… And I hate circumcision because it never would have been done to me if circumcision had not been pushed as a profit center for MDs, for hospitals and for tissue banks.

    Please don’t talk to me about the “science” of circumcision… or even of medicine. I am not a fool. Medical doctors readily admit circumcision is not medically necessary. It is, pure and simple, a primitive ritual that crept into medicine when the masturbation theory of disease was popular – after the evil spirit theory and before the germ theory.

    Medicine is a belief system… a very fancy belief system with white robes, shiny bells and whistles. It is an expensive belief system that costs an arm and a leg for it to work its magic on its customers… Medicine is a religion of sorts. It usurped the magical ritual of circumcision from Judaism. The punch line is that the original history of the Jewish people and Abraham has no mention of circumcision or a circumcision covenant. We’ve all been duped… for thousands of years.

    [Reply]

    Joseph4GI Reply:

    Pain and whether a man can remember it or not is not the issue.

    In Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, baby girls are circumcised in a ritual called “Sunnat.” Of course they don’t remember the pain, and the mothers don’t complain and want to keep carrying out their traditions.

    Go to Africa. Actually, the women there can’t stand it that we have the nerve to go over there and change their culture.

    If pain and whether or not it could be remembered were the issue, then a man could use rufies to have his way with a woman. In court, he could say “well she doesn’t remember.” And he’d get away with it. Because she has no recollection.

    What a fallacy.

    [Reply]

    Susan Reply:

    ‘Oprahland’? Y’all can keep Oprah, she puts infant foreskin fibroblasts on her face in skin-cream, and hypocritically advocates against FGM. She’s on the pro-circ whackjobs’ side.

    Nobel laureates such as Francis Crick & George Wald (plus Benjamin Spock, Ashley Montagu, Christopher Hitchens) are all against MGM. Does that trump flawed studies by cut men (and cutting women) with an agenda? I think so.

    [Reply]

  7. KAS
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 3:34 pm

    I love how quickly two men, likely circumcised, who have more than likely not done any research into what is lost, only the supposed and unproven “benefits” have come to argue with this post.
    I sense some anger, which is understandable when someone blatantly points out that you are missing a completely natural, inherent piece of your anatomy. But part of recognizing when you have been wronged is learning to come to terms with what has occurred, and I hope both of the posters above who so adamantly argue that circumcision is somehow a beneficial, painless procedure with no real side-effects or problems someday become brave enough to examine exactly what has been taken away and why it is so vital to the future of our sons that this barbaric procedure end.

    [Reply]

    Peter Reply:

    KAS, you must be a member of one of the caring professions. You have mastered the knack of luring naughty boys into your embrace with promises of comfort and redemption, all the while leaving them with little doubt that what they really deserve is a good spanking.

    [Reply]

  8. Dr.Dawg
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 3:40 pm

    3 feet of skin??

    Good grief, I guess the conjuror really could perform this trick after all!

    [Reply]

  9. Eric Marshall
    February 3rd, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

    Well said though there is one thing in this article that you forgot to mention. The foreskin is not just skin, it contains highly sensitive and uniquely specialized sexual tissue and plays a vital role during sex. But if anyone reads this don’t just take my word for it. Go out and do your own research on the foreskin and what circumcision actually is. I know words like “rape” and “mutilation are very strong words but once you actually understand what the foreskin is and what circumcision does there’s just no way around referring to infant circumcision as what it is, a rape and a mutilation of a helpless infant!

    Being circumcised myself I absolutely agree that circumcision is not only child abuse but also lifelong abuse of the adult that child will become. It is quite frankly torturous for me to see that disgusting scar running across the most intimately personal part of my body every day of my life. To feel simultaneously violated and incomplete in such a personal way every day is quite frankly torturous!

    Circumcision of minors without their consent should be illegal and I am quite frankly ashamed to come from a country where sexually mutilating children is considered a part of parenting yet this same country continues to gloat about how much it respects human rights. I guess we male Canadians only truly have human rights after we turn 18.

    [Reply]

  10. James Loewen
    February 4th, 2011 @ 1:52 am

    Much appreciate you speaking out Jonathan.

    If anyone says that mutilation is too strong a term to use for circumcision tell them its actually too weak a term. Circumcision its actually sexual mutilation.

    [Reply]

  11. Jake
    February 4th, 2011 @ 9:35 am

    There are some serious factual errors in this post:

    “Circumcision serves little, if any, function in disease prevention (remember, there have been no studies based in North America).”

    Odd. In Singh-Grewal’s meta-analysis (http://www.circs.org/library/singhgrewal/index.html) of UTI by circumcision status, ten of the twelve studies were conducted in North America. And all showed decreased risk.

    “And routine infant circumcision has risks, serious risks. There is an increase in urinary track [sic] infections”

    Um, no, there’s a decrease. See the above reference.

    “Taking a knife and excising a necessary, functional and useful portion of skin is child abuse.”

    This seems a slightly dubious assertion by itself (would every such excision constitute child abuse?). But before we even address that point, there’s a fundamental assumption to assess: that the foreskin *is* necessary, functional, and useful. The first of these in particular is highly questionable: given that men manage perfectly well – and often better – without it, how can it be necessary?

    [Reply]

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    I addressed the science-y questions in the previous post. Surveys and research show no conclusive proof that this sort of amputation has benefit (some may, but others do not – it’s non-verifiable).

    Yes, every unnecessary cosmetic surgery performed on an infant should count as child abuse. I’m sorry if that seems dubious.

    Men may manage perfectly well without it, but they have lost part of their sexual organ.

    Plus, read the post. I don’t give a crap whether or not men want to get circumcized. We’re talking about cutting the genitals of babies. Adults can do all the body modification they want.

    [Reply]

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    I should note, on balance the research points to a lower rate of UTIs.

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    Thank you. How about correcting your post?

    [Reply]

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    Umm… if you wanted the clarification, I just gave it. If you want to twist that into some sort of admission of error, rot. That sort of dishonesty, though, seems in line with defending routine infant mutilation. Kudos on your consistency.

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    First you argue that circumcision increases the risk of UTIs: “And routine infant circumcision has risks, serious risks. There is an increase in urinary track infections”. Then you state the reverse, that circumcision decreases the risk: “I should note, on balance the research points to a lower rate of UTIs”.

    Surely that *is* an admission of error? How is it dishonest to treat it as such?

    [Reply]

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    Dear lord. It required a clarification, perhaps; and it’s right there, a couple of comments above this. I’m not sure what more you want.

    darlene Reply:

    No, on balance there is a decreased rate of UTIs in intact men. No error.

    And again: even if there were an actual decrease in UTI’s in circumcised boys/men, is that really worth mutilating infant genitals? I’ve gotten at least a half dozen UTI’s in my life, maybe more: would any sane person argue that I should submit myself for labiaplasty/female genital mutilation to “decrease my risk”? No: of course not. And aren’t UTI’s pretty easily treated, even homeopathically (cranberry extract is safe for all ages, available without a prescription or appointment, and fantastically effective)? Yes, they are.
    So again I ask: why mutilate babies?!

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    Sorry, I think my comment from above was too vague (“it” could mean so many things). Allow me to rephrase the comment from 10:02 am:

    I should note, on balance the research points to a lower rate of UTIs – for uncircumcised males.

    Apologies for the confusion.

    Jake Reply:

    To Darlene and Jonathan McLeod:

    How on earth can you claim that this is what the research shows? In fact, as the Singh-Grewal meta-analysis I cited shows, every study that has compared the risk in circumcised and uncircumcised males has found lower risk in circumcised males. To claim otherwise seems wishful thinking at best and deliberately deceptive at worst.

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    Jake, I think we’re just going to go round and round here. The readers at the Commons have a wealth of information at their hands now (from the original posts and from a number of comments). I’m willing to let it all stand and have readers decide for themselves.

    Cheers.

    Mincan Reply:

    Its worth mentioning every single study on UTI prevalence between cut and intact indicates that both are many times below the rate of female UTIs. Seems to be a non-issue when framed in such a way. Females aren’t worrying about it, at least not enough to request their daughter’s genitals be altered.

    darlene Reply:

    And you, Jake, are still refusing to actually answer any further questions. Why might that be? Because there’s no fancy rhetoric that supports the violation of the body and rights of an infant for something as insignificant as a UTI?

    Jake Reply:

    Darlene,

    No, I’m not refusing to answer your questions. It seemed to me that there was little point in addressing those issues *until* we had agreed on the basic facts. After all, if circumcision has a protective effect against UTI then it’s worth discussing whether it *ought* to be done for that purpose. But if, as you claim, there is on balance a decreased rate of UTIs in uncircumcised men, then that’s a moot point. So my question to you is critical, and I’d be grateful for an answer.

    I’m going to answer your questions anyway, as a gesture of good faith, in the hope that you will answer mine in turn.

    “And again: even if there were an actual decrease in UTI’s in circumcised boys/men, is that really worth mutilating infant genitals?”

    By itself, I’m not sure. To come up with a sensible answer, one would have to quantify the risk of UTI attributable to lack of circumcision, and then weigh that against the risks. Until recently, lifetime risk of UTI in uncircumcised males has been estimated at 1-2%, but newer evidence suggests that the figure may be closer to 20%.

    “I’ve gotten at least a half dozen UTI’s in my life, maybe more: would any sane person argue that I should submit myself for labiaplasty/female genital mutilation to “decrease my risk”? No: of course not.”

    It would be extremely ill-advised. I’m aware of only one study of UTI by FGC status; it found that FGC is actually associated with increased risk of UTI. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16485592

    “And aren’t UTI’s pretty easily treated, even homeopathically (cranberry extract is safe for all ages, available without a prescription or appointment, and fantastically effective)? Yes, they are.”

    Often, yes, they’re relatively easy to treat. However, in a fraction of cases they’re problematic, and can cause complications such as kidney damage. I should stress that this is relatively rare, but for the sake of completeness it should not be overlooked.

    “So again I ask: why mutilate babies?!”

    Well, I don’t agree with your implication that circumcision is mutilative, but fundamentally the question you’re asking is addressed to those who advocate circumcision. I’m not one of those people – I’m pro-parental choice, not pro-circumcision – so I don’t feel that I can answer that question. I think a more pressing question is whether infant circumcision is acceptable, and I’m personally satisfied that it is. There’s an excellent article (reprinted from the American Journal of Bioethics) at: http://circs.org/library/benatar2/index.html – I think it’s a very well-argued article.

    [Reply]

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    Dude, it’s mutilation. Whether you like it or not, it’s the definition, and I put it in the first post.

    But, fine, you’re pro parental choice, so it’s cool if parents choose female genital mutilation, right?

    Jake Reply:

    “Dude, it’s mutilation. Whether you like it or not, it’s the definition, and I put it in the first post.”

    No, it doesn’t meet the definition. Look:

    1. to injure, disfigure, or make imperfect by removing or irreparably damaging parts: Vandals mutilated the painting.

    Now, circumcision *does* remove parts, but the question is, does it injure, disfigure, or make imperfect? That’s actually three questions. The second is concerned with aesthetics, and hence is subjective, so there’s no right answer. The first and last are similar in meaning, and circumcision doesn’t injure or make imperfect, but arguably improves the penis.

    2. to deprive (a person or animal) of a limb or other essential part.

    Clearly the foreskin is not a limb, so the question is, is it an essential part? Obviously not: if it were essential, we’d be unable to survive without it.

    So no, it doesn’t meet the definition of mutilation.

    “But, fine, you’re pro parental choice, so it’s cool if parents choose female genital mutilation, right?”

    Being pro-parental choice does not mean being in favour of *any* choices. The choice has to be reasonable, and should not cause significant harm (if it does cause significant harm, society needs to step in to protect the vulnerable). Circumcision meets those criteria, but FGC does not, since when risks and harms are weighed against benefits they clearly far outweigh them.

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    RTFA.

    darlene Reply:

    Regarding the word “disfigure”, I think that even if one is not anti-circumcision the argument could easily be made that the word is fitting. Parsed literally, the prefix means “apart, asunder, away”. There can be no debate as to whether or not the foreskin is entirely put asunder from the rest of the figure of the penis. So from a purely literal perspective, the original figure (the intact penis) has been put asunder, and thus the word is appropriate, even if one is in favour of the practice.

    As for us “agree[ing] on basic facts”: no, we really don’t. I do not agree that circumcision actually reduces rates of UTIs or that prophylactic circumcision is in any way beneficial, but for the sake of argument I put those objections aside in order to address other elements of the question since you have been unwilling to do so. You make the point in your recent response that you don’t know that the risk posed by UTIs is sufficient to justify the practice, but then go on to say that you are satisfied and are in favour of “parental choice”. I fail to understand how a belief that a small increase in the rate of a rare and arguably extremely treatable and generally relatively insignificant justifies improperly pain-controlled surgery on an infant, let alone denying that individual – the child – rights to his body.

    I’m not being obtuse: I just really do not understand how you can justify this in the name of “parental choice” when the medical arguments are so fundamentally shaky and individual rights trump pretty much everything else. And the individual in question is the infant strapped to a board, not the parent cowering in the waiting room.

    Jake Reply:

    Darleen:

    “Parsed literally, the prefix means “apart, asunder, away”. There can be no debate as to whether or not the foreskin is entirely put asunder from the rest of the figure of the penis.”

    Seems to me that this is a bit of a circular argument: by definition, to qualify as mutilation, the foreskin has to be removed in such a way that disfigures. You’re essentially saying that it disfigures because the foreskin’s removed. By the same argument, you could argue that cutting the fingernails or the hair mutilates, and that seems a little absurd (yes, I know there are differences, but the same arguments would still apply).

    “As for us “agree[ing] on basic facts”: no, we really don’t. I do not agree that circumcision actually reduces rates of UTIs or that prophylactic circumcision is in any way beneficial, but for the sake of argument I put those objections aside in order to address other elements of the question since you have been unwilling to do so.”

    But you still haven’t explained why you believe that circumcision increases the risk of UTI.

    ” You make the point in your recent response that you don’t know that the risk posed by UTIs is sufficient to justify the practice, but then go on to say that you are satisfied and are in favour of “parental choice”.”

    Actually, if you read my post I was careful to note that I was only considering UTI by itself. But, in fact, it’s meaningless to weigh one benefit against all the risks: any sensible comparison has to include all of the benefits *and* all of the risks.

    “I fail to understand how a belief that a small increase in the rate of a rare and arguably extremely treatable and generally relatively insignificant justifies improperly pain-controlled surgery on an infant, let alone denying that individual – the child – rights to his body.”

    First of all, I believe that circumcision should always be performed with appropriate local anaesthesia. Second, I don’t believe that circumcision deprives a child of rights to his body.

    darlene Reply:

    http://www.cirp.org/library/disease/UTI/

    ” The intact boy has two physical lines of defense that his circumcised counterpart lacks: the preputial sphincter, which closes when a boy is not urinating; and a protected meatus (urinary opening), which is often inflamed and open in circumcised boys.9 In addition, the sub-preputial moisture contains lysosyme, which has an anti-bacterial action.47 Oligosaccharides excreted in the urine of breastfed babies prevent adhesion of pathogens to uroepithelial tissue.”

    That’s why. I’m not going around and around on this anymore. If you want to keep arguing yourself around the fundamentals of modern liberalism, go for it, and best of luck with that. John Locke will be gyrating in his grave.

    darlene Reply:

    And just for the hell of it, I’ll feed the troll some more: http://www.infocirc.org/uti2.htm

    Jake Reply:

    Darlene:

    Let me respond to the text you quote.

    “The intact boy has two physical lines of defense that his circumcised counterpart lacks: the preputial sphincter, which closes when a boy is not urinating; and a protected meatus (urinary opening), which is often inflamed and open in circumcised boys.”

    While technically true, there are a couple of problems with this argument. First, there’s actually only one “line of defense” there, not two, as the sphincter is the reason why the meatus is not exposed in uncircumcised boys. Second, the argument ignores the fact that the preputial sac can act as a reservoir for pathogens, thus bringing them into convenient proximity to the urinary meatus.

    “In addition, the sub-preputial moisture contains lysosyme, which has an anti-bacterial action.”

    This is actually incorrect.

    And all of this has a fundamental problem: in science, data is king. It doesn’t matter how many hypotheses one might have about how the foreskin is protective; if experiments show that the opposite is true (and they consistently do), that’s what counts.

    darlene Reply:

    It’s kind of fabulous how you say “data is king” and then provide none to support your previous proposition.

    And none of this addresses modern liberal fundamentals of individual rights and bodily integrity. None of it. Parents don’t own children: people can’t own people.

    I’m done. Cut up your kids, don’t cut up your kids…it should be a crime but it isn’t. So I guess you and your “parental choice” wins.

    Hugh7 Reply:

    “I don’t believe that circumcision deprives a child of rights to his body.”

    By definition it deprives him of his foreskin. His foreskin does not come off by itself. There is no dotted line. It is an integral part of his body.

    So what is it about his foreskin that gives him no right to undisturbed ownership of it – unlike the rest of his body?

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    “So what is it about his foreskin that gives him no right to undisturbed ownership of it – unlike the rest of his body?”

    There’s nothing special about the foreskin in this respect. The only thing that’s unusual about the foreskin is that the act of removing it (ie., circumcision) is neutral or beneficial when the benefits are weighed against risks and harms. And because of that, it’s a legitimate choice for parents to make.

    [Reply]

    Jackie Reply:

    Jake as i read your comments i cant help but think two things. Either you were circumcised as a baby against your will ,and want every baby to be lacking like you are, OR you were a Intact man who for some reason got circumcised (or choose it for yourself) and you are not happy with the choice so now you think everyone should be cut. Your agreements are awful. The circumcision debate is simple.
    This is healthy tissue on a newborn baby. NOTHING is wrong with it. You are born with it so God/Nature obviously thinks it is a necessary part of the male body. It isnt your body to cut up. If you want to get circumcised as an adult go for it, but how about we leave the defenseless baby alone. You are pushing for the amputation of a organ when there is no problem with it. You cannot do that on any other part of the human body.

    [Reply]

    Elisabeth Reply:

    Actually, as a certified pediatric nurse specialist, I assure you that the act of removing the foreskin is NOT neutral or beneficial. Even if one were to allow all of the claims you make as to the supposed benefits of circumcision for adult males, that does not make it a neutral or beneficial act to remove the foreskin of a non-consenting child.

    STDs? How about we just avoid pedophiles (you know, the ones who run the pro-circ fetish sites) instead?

    UTIs? Since when is it good medical procedure to perform an amputation for a condition easily treated with a simple antibiotic? Oh, wait, that’s right, it isn’t.

    To circumcize a child is to remove not only skin, but also muscle and nerve endings. These tissues serve a distinct purpose (aside from any sexual purposes for the adult male) … to protect the glans of the penis from infection and abrasion. The musculature of the foreskin, combined with the ennervation, cause the functioning of a very specific sphincter that allows urine to leave but prevents contaminants from entering.

    As long as it is not forcibly and prematurely retracted, the foreskin does this job admirably, leaving the parents with nothing more to do in terms of hygiene than simply wipe the organ as one would a finger to remove any soiling from the diaper.

    Precisely how is it *better* to have an open wound in a diaper? How does this prevent any sort of infectious process?

    In addition, due to the highly vascularized and ennervated nature of the tissues involved, circumcision carries extreme risks to the infant, up to and including death.

    Hmmmm…. an antibiotic for a potential UTI vs. possible death. Oh, yes, that’s such a “legitimate” choice.

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    “Actually, as a certified pediatric nurse specialist, I assure you that the act of removing the foreskin is NOT neutral or beneficial.”

    That’s an opinion that you’re free to hold, but many others disagree with you. For example, the following link is to a report on a CDC expert consultation, in which it was concluded that the benefits of circumcision exceed the risks: http://www.publichealthreports.org/archives/issueopen.cfm?articleID=2352

    “STDs? How about we just avoid pedophiles (you know, the ones who run the pro-circ fetish sites) instead?”

    Ignoring your rather odd comment, you are aware, aren’t you, that children grow to become adults?

    “UTIs? Since when is it good medical procedure to perform an amputation for a condition easily treated with a simple antibiotic? Oh, wait, that’s right, it isn’t.”

    You’re changing the subject. The question is risks vs benefits, not whether one benefit by itself warrants intervention.

    “To circumcize a child is to remove not only skin, but also muscle and nerve endings. These tissues serve a distinct purpose (aside from any sexual purposes for the adult male) … to protect the glans of the penis from infection and abrasion.”

    An interesting hypothesis, but ultimately one inconsistent with the evidence that shows higher rates of balanitis in uncircumcised males.

    “In addition, due to the highly vascularized and ennervated nature of the tissues involved, circumcision carries extreme risks to the infant, up to and including death.”

    Yes, it does. But setting aside the melodrama and looking at this objectively, we have to balance this against the risks associated with lack of circumcision. UTIs can be fatal (yes, this is rare, but so is death due to circumcision). HIV can be fatal. Penile cancer can be fatal. Etc. There are relatively few data in the literature, but you can get an idea from Wiswell and Geshke’s paper, “Risks from circumcision during the first month of life compared with those for uncircumcised boys”, in which there were no deaths among 100,157 circumcised boys, but two UTI-related deaths among 35,929 uncircumcised boys.

    [Reply]

    Elisabeth Reply:

    Balanitis can ALSO be treated with medication.

    Please name a supposed “benefit” of circumcision that cannot be either prevented through use of condoms or treated with basic and simple medications?

    As to the fact the baby boys grow up to be men… why yes, they do. And at that point, they can choose for themselves. Thank you for making our point.

    Elisabeth Reply:

    THYMOS: Journal of Boyhood Studies, Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring 2010, 78-90

    LOST BOYS: AN ESTIMATE OF U.S. CIRCUMCISION-RELATED INFANT DEATHS

    - Dan Bollinger

    Abstract: Baby boys can and do succumb as a result of having their foreskin removed. Circumcision-related mortality rates are not known with certainty; this study estimates the scale of this problem. This study finds that approximately 117 neonatal circumcision-related deaths (9.01/100,000) occur annually in the United States, about 1.3% of male neonatal deaths from all causes. Because infant circumcision is elective, all of these deaths are avoidable. This study also identifies reasons why accurate data on these deaths are not available, some of the obstacles to preventing these deaths, and some solutions to overcome them.

    Elisabeth Reply:

    AUTOPSY FINDINGS

    MEDICAL CAUSE OF DEATH

    (1) Immediate cause of death: a) Multi-organ ischemia, due to or as a consequence of b) exsangination [loss of blood], due to or as a consequence of c) circumcision
    (2) Other significant conditions contributing to death: Post-surgical exsanguination

    Classification of the event: Accidental
    Date signed: 19 January 2004
    T.E. Chico Newell, Coroner

    http://www.circumstitions.com/death-exsang.html has the autopsy report in full.

    [The evidence would justify classifying Ryleigh's death as Iatrogenic and recommending that circumcision of infants be removed from the category of elective procedures.]

    Elisabeth Reply:

    THE DADE COUNTRY MEDICAL EXAMINER DEPARTMENT, Miami, Florida
    Name….MANKER,.Demetrius…..June.23,1993….11:00am………Case No. 93-1711

    EXTERNAL EXAMINATION:

    The body is that of a 25-1/2 inch, 15 pound, very pale appearing Negro male appearing consistent with the stated age of 6 months. … No anomalies are evident.

    When initially viewed, a large amount of congealed blood covers the head of the penis. Removal of this disclosed a circumcision site that appears unremarkable along the dorsal surface of the penis. Ventrally, however, a gaping defect of approximately 12 x 14 millimeters is evident with a large amount of extravasated blood in the subcutaneous tissues extending along the shaft of the penis nearly to the scrotal sac.

    CAUSE OF DEATH:
    Exsanguination
    DUE TO:
    Penile Circumcision

    [signed]
    Charles V. Wetli, M.D.
    Deputy Chief Medical Examiner

    Elisabeth Reply:

    Dustin Evans Jr was born in Cleveland, Ohio in October 1998. He was circumcised by a Dr Russell soon after, who took so much shaft skin that the scar healed as a wideband stricture (a tight “collar”) around his penis, preventing him from urinating. When he was given sevoflourane, an anaesthetic, in order to “revise” his circumcision, he immediately died of cardiopulmonary arrest.

    His father said, “You think, ‘What could go wrong with a circumcision?’ The next thing I know, he’s dead.”

    Jake Reply:

    “Balanitis can ALSO be treated with medication.”

    Yes, it can.

    “Please name a supposed “benefit” of circumcision that cannot be either prevented through use of condoms or treated with basic and simple medications?”

    Well, the reduction in risk of penile cancer springs to mind, but I’m not really sure why you’re asking that question. All the risks have to be weighed against all benefits, not just those that meet your criteria.

    “LOST BOYS: AN ESTIMATE OF U.S. CIRCUMCISION-RELATED INFANT DEATHS”

    I’ve already explained the problems with this at: http://circumcisionnews.blogspot.com/2010/05/fatally-flawed-bollingers-circumcision.html

    Elisabeth Reply:

    If an adult male wants to weigh the miniscule risk of penile cancer (men have a higher rate of breast cancer than they do of penile cancer. Perhaps we need to remove all male and female breast tissue at birth?) against keeping their foreskin, then, hey, that’s their choice. Which is our point.

    Adults can make the choice for themselves. The supposed “risks” of the foreskin do not give parents the rights to remove it any more than the “risks” of breast cancer give parents of baby girls the right to have their breast tissue removed.

    Joe Reply:

    Jake said: “Well, the reduction in risk of penile cancer springs to mind, but I’m not really sure why you’re asking that question. All the risks have to be weighed against all benefits, not just those that meet your criteria.”

    And again, as usual, those like Jake whose life mission seems to be to push circumcision, neglect more appropriate approaches. In this case, citing a risk reduction for penile cancer and neglecting to point out that for nearly five years, there’s been an effective vaccine.

    Joseph4GI Reply:

    “That’s an opinion that you’re free to hold, but many others disagree with you.”

    Same to YOU.

    “For example, the following link is to a report on a CDC expert consultation, in which it was concluded that the benefits of circumcision exceed the risks: http://www.publichealthreports.org/archives/issueopen.cfm?articleID=2352

    The CDC is no longer a good point of reference, coming from a country where circumcision is a cultural norm, and where most of the “experts” that took part of this “consultation” were circumcised themselves. Such a “consultation” is worthless.

    If you sit around and look for only benefits to a procedure you are seeking to promote, the “benefits” will always outweigh the “risks.”

    “Ignoring your rather odd comment, you are aware, aren’t you, that children grow to become adults?”

    No, the odd comment will not be ignored. We know exactly who you are Jake Waskett, and we know the organizations that you belong to.

    You seem to want to ignore the fact that when children become adults, they become capable of making their own assesments and decisions.

    “You’re changing the subject. The question is risks vs benefits, not whether one benefit by itself warrants intervention.”

    No, YOU’RE changing the subject. The question is that of necessity. The “risks vs benefits” debate is not made with any other surgery. There must be a concrete medical or clinical indication before a surgery can take place. With healthy infants, there is none.

    “An interesting hypothesis, but ultimately one inconsistent with the evidence that shows higher rates of balanitis in uncircumcised males.”

    An interesting observation, albeit a completely dumb one.

    First of all, who came up with the evidence and who is presenting it. Second, a body part will always be prone to disease; medicine seeks to prevent disease while preserving the body part, not the other way around. 3rd, balanitis is not always an indication for circumcision. Again, an analysis from someone who has circumcsion on the brain is unreliable. It needs to be from someone who has body preservation on the brain.

    “Yes, it does. But setting aside the melodrama and looking at this objectively, we have to balance this against the risks associated with lack of circumcision.”

    Anatomically correct genitalia don’t “lack” anything.

    And, once again, the “risks vs benefits” argument can only take place only when there is a medical or clinical indication present. There is no “risks vs. benefits” debate to take place in healthy organs. There will always be “benefits.”

    “UTIs can be fatal (yes, this is rare, but so is death due to circumcision).”

    UTIs are rarer in boys than in girls, and are as easily as treatable and preventable. Death from circumcision is always avoidable by NOT circumcising.

    “HIV can be fatal. Penile cancer can be fatal. Etc.”

    Yes, prostate cancer can be fatal. Breast cancer can be fatal.

    These assertions are made on the following dubious premises:

    1. That the boys will grow up to be promiscuous.
    2. That the boys will be too stupid to learn good hygiene.
    3. That the boys will be too stupid to learn how to use condoms. (They have to learn to do this whether they are circumcised or not!)
    4. Infants are at zero risk for STD infections.
    5. When the infants grow up, they will be fully capable of making their own decisions. Circumcision violates their rights to their bodies.
    FACT: Men and boys may not WANT to be circumcised, but may instead live with the “risks” you mention, opting to take other precautions.

    You sick, sick man.

    “There are relatively few data in the literature, but you can get an idea from Wiswell and Geshke’s paper, “Risks from circumcision during the first month of life compared with those for uncircumcised boys”, in which there were no deaths among 100,157 circumcised boys, but two UTI-related deaths among 35,929 uncircumcised boys.”

    All of this data which is unreliable because it is produced with circumcision in primacy.

    Wiswell studied UTIs in premature babies who are more prone to UTIs ANYWAY.

    This “data” needs to be thrown out.

    Jake Reply:

    “The CDC is no longer a good point of reference, coming from a country where circumcision is a cultural norm, and where most of the “experts” that took part of this “consultation” were circumcised themselves. Such a “consultation” is worthless.”

    You’re free to hold that opinion, of course, but don’t be too surprised if others (including myself) don’t take seriously your rejection of their position, based apparently on your assumptions about their penises.

    “If you sit around and look for only benefits to a procedure you are seeking to promote, the “benefits” will always outweigh the “risks.””

    Very possibly, but you haven’t demonstrated that anybody *has* sat around and looked only for benefits.

    “You seem to want to ignore the fact that when children become adults, they become capable of making their own assesments and decisions.”

    No, I’m not ignoring that fact at all.

    “No, YOU’RE changing the subject. The question is that of necessity.”

    No, it isn’t. It’s of risks vs benefits. See the first paragraph of Elisabeth’s post, dated February 6th, 2011 at 10:58 am.

    [Re “An interesting hypothesis, but ultimately one inconsistent with the evidence that shows higher rates of balanitis in uncircumcised males.”] “First of all, who came up with the evidence and who is presenting it.”

    There are a few other studies, but you could start with the following:

    Herzog LW, Alvarez SR. The frequency of foreskin problems in uncircumcised children. Am J Dis Child. 1986; 140: 254-256

    Fakjian N, Hunter S, Cole GW, Miller J. An argument for circumcision: prevention of balanitis in the adult. Arch Dermatol. 1990 Aug; 126: 1046-1047

    Wilson RA. Circumcision and venereal disease. Can Med Assoc J. 1947; 56: 54-56

    Hart G. Factors influencing venereal infection in a war environment. Brit J Vener Dis. 1974; 50: 68-72

    Davidson F. Yeasts and circumcision in the male. Brit J Vener Dis. 1977; 53: 121-122

    Mallon E, Hawkins D, Dinneen M, Francics N, Fearfield L, Newson R, Bunker C. Circumcision and genital dermatoses. Arch Dermatol. 2000 Mar; 136(3): 350-4

    “Second, a body part will always be prone to disease; medicine seeks to prevent disease while preserving the body part, not the other way around. 3rd, balanitis is not always an indication for circumcision. Again, an analysis from someone who has circumcsion on the brain is unreliable. It needs to be from someone who has body preservation on the brain.”

    Since none of these points seem remotely relevant to the issue under discussion, there doesn’t seem much point in responding to them.

    “UTIs are rarer in boys than in girls, and are as easily as treatable and preventable. Death from circumcision is always avoidable by NOT circumcising.”

    In which case there’s an increase in death due to UTI. You can’t, I’m afraid, eliminate that risk altogether; there are risks associated with either choice.

    [Re “There are relatively few data in the literature, but you can get an idea from Wiswell and Geshke’s paper, “Risks from circumcision during the first month of life compared with those for uncircumcised boys”, in which there were no deaths among 100,157 circumcised boys, but two UTI-related deaths among 35,929 uncircumcised boys.”] “All of this data which is unreliable because it is produced with circumcision in primacy.”

    If you expect that to be taken seriously, prove your assertion.

    “Wiswell studied UTIs in premature babies who are more prone to UTIs ANYWAY.”

    Not correct, but even if it were it would hardly matter, as Singh-Grewal’s meta-analysis alone includes eleven studies that were not authored by Wiswell.

    Hugh7 Reply:

    “The only thing that’s unusual about the foreskin is that the act of removing it (ie., circumcision) is neutral or beneficial when the benefits are weighed against risks and harms.”

    The same could be said of the earlobe or the clitoral prepuce. How does the male foreskin differ from those, such that removing them is not “a legitimate choice for parents to make”?

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    “The same could be said of the earlobe or the clitoral prepuce.”

    Could it? The risks, to a certain extent, are obvious, as there are complications common to all surgical procedures. In the case of clitoridotomy (type I FGC), some studies have provided some additional information, I believe. What are the documented benefits to weigh against these?

    [Reply]

    Hugh7 Reply:

    But we don’t demand that parents weigh “documented benefits” before allowing them to choose to have part of the genitals cut off their sons, just one signature on the dotted line. Parents may choose circumcision for diametrically opposite (and both spurious) reasons.

    And I’m not talking about Type I FGC but Type Ia, removal of the clitoral hood only. Why isn’t it enough that the parents want to do it (to make her marriagable, say – quite a big reason) for that to be “a choice that parents can make for their daughters” or even legal?

    Jake Reply:

    “But we don’t demand that parents weigh “documented benefits” before allowing them to choose to have part of the genitals cut off their sons, just one signature on the dotted line. Parents may choose circumcision for diametrically opposite (and both spurious) reasons.”

    I agree. But to an extent, the reason why acceptable decisions are made doesn’t matter, as long as the outcome is acceptable. In the case of circumcision, the documented evidence does exist, and reasonable people have reviewed it and come to the conclusion that circumcision is an acceptable parental choice.

    Since you’re asserting that clitoridotomy is comparable, it seems reasonable to ask for documentation showing that to be the case. Because otherwise there are surgical risks offset by nothing, so there’s a clear net harm. And isn’t it reasonable for society to protect the vulnerable from harm?

    Joseph4GI Reply:

    “Balanitis can ALSO be treated with medication.”

    Yes, it can.

    Me: Making circumcision as a “preventative measure” useless.

    The point of medicine is to outdate horrible unnecessary practice, not to preserve it.

    “Well, the reduction in risk of penile cancer springs to mind, but I’m not really sure why you’re asking that question.”

    Negligible in most other people’s (except, of course, those with a known fetish for circumcision and the circumcised penis…)

    “All the risks have to be weighed against all benefits, not just those that meet your criteria.”

    In a healthy, non-consenting child, there is no “risks or benefits” to weigh. Unless there is a medical or clinical indication, doctors have absolutely no business performing surgery in healthy, non-consenting children, much less giving parents any kind of “choice.”

    The “pros and cons” are not “weighed” for the excision of any other healthy body part. There must be a medical or clinical indication.

    “I’ve already explained the problems with this at: http://circumcisionnews.blogspot.com/2010/05/fatally-flawed-bollingers-circumcision.html

    Jake TRIES to explain “problems” that don’t exist in Dan Bollinger’s paper. He creates them and destroys them, like straw men.

    Actually, Jake tries to sound smarter than he really is.

    Dan Bollinger spent 4 years doing this research, it went through a rigorous peer-reviewed process, and it was even published in a peer-reviewed journal.

    This will NOT be felled by a little puny wannabe like Jake.

    Let’s get an opinion from more objective researchers, preferably one that isn’t into child genital mutilation, preferably one that is Dan Bollinger’s peer.

    Jake is a computer programmer.

    WHAT exactly gives him the idea that he can actually speak on male genitalia and its physiology?

    Yeah…

    Joseph4GI Reply:

    “…to an extent, the reason why acceptable decisions are made doesn’t matter, as long as the outcome is acceptable.”

    Actually, there needs to be a medical or clinical indication for doctors to be performing surgery on healthy, non-consenting minors, before they can even be giving parents any kind of “choice” to make.

    “In the case of circumcision, the documented evidence does exist, and reasonable people have reviewed it and come to the conclusion that circumcision is an acceptable parental choice.”

    Before surgery can be performed, there needs to be concrete medical and clinical indication. Without this, doctors cannot be performing surgery on healthy, non-consenting individuals, much less be giving parents any kind of a “choice.”

    Unless there is actually something WRONG with the child, his circumcision is completely uncalled for and unacceptable.

    “Since you’re asserting that clitoridotomy is comparable, it seems reasonable to ask for documentation showing that to be the case.”

    I don’t think you need documentation for what is physically demonstrable. Taking a person and forcefully cutting of that person’s genitals is the same principle whether the person is male or female. It is a violation of basic human rights.

    There would not be any amount of “medical benefits” any number of “studies” that would EVER justify cutting any part of a minor girl’s genitals.

    “Because otherwise there are surgical risks offset by nothing, so there’s a clear net harm. And isn’t it reasonable for society to protect the vulnerable from harm?”

    Unless there is a clear medical or clinical indication, surgical risks are offset by nothing, and the harm is clear here as well.

    Yes, it is reasonable for society to protect the vulnerable from harm…

    Except in boys, where they can be duly circumcised to appease parents whims, or so you seem to argue…

    This is the bottom line:

    Without medical or clinical indication, doctors have absolutely no business performing surgery in healthy, non-consenting individuals, much less be giving parents any kind of a “choice.”

    It is a confidence trick to be trying to make parents feel entitled to a “decision” that does not really exist.

    It is charlatanism at its best to be abusing parental naivete for profit, and it is child abuse to be mutilating the genitals of a healthy, non-consenting individual.

    Unless there is clear medical indication, circumcision needs to be a decision the child makes when he is older.

    Jake Reply:

    [Re “I’ve already explained the problems with this at: http://circumcisionnews.blogspot.com/2010/05/fatally-flawed-bollingers-circumcision.html” “Jake TRIES to explain “problems” that don’t exist in Dan Bollinger’s paper. He creates them and destroys them, like straw men.”

    Okay, vague assertions are unproductive, so let’s discuss something concrete. Would you please identify the first of these illusory problems?

    Hugh7 Reply:

    “Since you’re asserting that clitoridotomy is comparable, it seems reasonable to ask for documentation showing that to be the case. Because otherwise there are surgical risks offset by nothing, so there’s a clear net harm.”
    As I just said, I wasn’t talking about clitoridectomy, but removal of the clitoral hood only. And as I also said, making a girl marriagable is quite a significant benefit.

    “reasonable people have reviewed it and come to the conclusion that circumcision is an acceptable parental choice.” Fallacy of Appeal to Authority. (And I suspect that the appellation “reasonable” is post hoc.) The Royal Dutch Medical Society has come to the conclusion that it is not. I suspect that has a lot less to do with them being unreasonable than with them being uncircumcised.

    Jake Reply:

    “As I just said, I wasn’t talking about clitoridectomy, but removal of the clitoral hood only.”

    I am aware of that. That is why I wrote “clitoridotomy” rather than “clitoridectomy”.

    [Re “reasonable people have reviewed it and come to the conclusion that circumcision is an acceptable parental choice.”] “Fallacy of Appeal to Authority.”

    Actually, it’s not really a fallacy in this context, because judges, lawmakers, etc *do* defer to those who are regarded as scientific authorities. Consequently it does matter in terms of determining what society views as ethical and, ultimately, legal.

    Joseph4GI Reply:

    “Odd. In Singh-Grewal’s meta-analysis (http://www.circs.org/library/singhgrewal/index.html) of UTI by circumcision status, ten of the twelve studies were conducted in North America. And all showed decreased risk.”

    Odd, UTIs are already quite rare in boys, being 4x more common in girls, and being just as treatable with anti-biotics.

    “Um, no, there’s a decrease. See the above reference.”

    Um, no, it depends on who you ask. Some studie, like the ones done by pro-circumcision advocates such as Wiswell, who studied UTIs in premature babies, who are more prone to UTIs ANYWAY, say there’s an “increase.” Others, not so much.

    “This seems a slightly dubious assertion by itself (would every such excision constitute child abuse?).”

    Unless there is concrete medical or clinical indication, yes.

    “But before we even address that point, there’s a fundamental assumption to assess: that the foreskin *is* necessary, functional, and useful.”

    Yes, it IS necessary, and it IS functional, and it IS useful.

    YOU don’t think so, Jake, but we know exactly who you are and where you come from.

    It is not up to human rights activists to apologize for the normal human body.

    It is up to circumcision advocates to apologize for the need to destroy it.

    “The first of these in particular is highly questionable: given that men manage perfectly well – and often better – without it, how can it be necessary?”

    The same could be argued for any other body part with which a man could survive.

    By your logic, eyes aren’t necessary, neither are arms or legs…

    Just because men are faring perfectly well without them does not render them “unnecessary.” And whether they’re faring “better” is up to subjective opinion.

    Subjective opinion like that of a known circumfetishist, part of circumfetishist clubs and organizations. (YOU)

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    “Odd, UTIs are already quite rare in boys, being 4x more common in girls, and being just as treatable with anti-biotics.”

    Why “odd”? Do you perceive a contradiction of some kind? It seems to me that the relative frequency of UTI by circumcision status is a wholly separate issue from the relative frequency by gender, and indeed the methods of treatment.

    “Um, no, it depends on who you ask. Some studie, like the ones done by pro-circumcision advocates such as Wiswell, who studied UTIs in premature babies, who are more prone to UTIs ANYWAY, say there’s an “increase.” Others, not so much.”

    Well, I’ll look forward to you supplying some citations. In the meantime, as the Singh-Grewal meta-analysis makes clear, every study to investigate has found a protective effect, with a remarkable degree of consistency.

    “Yes, it IS necessary, and it IS functional, and it IS useful.”

    Your opinion is noted, but the question remains.

    [Re “The first of these in particular is highly questionable: given that men manage perfectly well – and often better – without it, how can it be necessary?”] “The same could be argued for any other body part with which a man could survive.”

    An excellent point. So are these body parts necessary?

    “Just because men are faring perfectly well without them does not render them “unnecessary.” And whether they’re faring “better” is up to subjective opinion.”

    Not especially subjective, really. Decreased risks of disease are objectively quantifiable and statistically verifiable.

    Incidentally, may I assume that your personal attacks are because you’re unable to attack my arguments? That is, after all, why people generally resort to ad hominems…

    [Reply]

  12. darlene
    February 4th, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

    Can a single one of you pro-circers provide an intelligent, valid argument for doing this to unconsenting, unsuspecting, mostly un-anesthetised and un-pain-managed infant boys?

    Seriously: give me a reason.

    [Reply]

    Mincan Reply:

    No, as Barbara Kay would say, ‘put the rights-based rhetoric aside.’

    It’s all they can do to avoid that point.

    [Reply]

    Dan Bollinger Reply:

    Darlene, The other point they step around is that parents cannot give proxy consent for elective surgery. If any other body part on a boy, or girl, were being removed the parents and doc would be removed to the jailhouse.

    [Reply]

  13. Van Lewis
    February 5th, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

    Excellent article, succinct, to the point, very persuasive, and absolutely correct. Thank you. Please contact mgmbill.org for consulting with getting the political effort going to outlaw this human rights violation in Canada.

    [Reply]

  14. Van Lewis
    February 5th, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

    Jake says: “circumcision doesn’t injure or make imperfect, but arguably improves the penis.” Fine, Jake. Mutilate YOUR penis if you’ve so thoroughly deluded yourself about the high value of cutting off the most nerve-ending-dense part of your penis, not MINE. And not anybody else’s, especially not children’s, because if you do sane people are eventually going to put you in jail. Got it?

    [Reply]

    Elisabeth Reply:

    Improved by whose standards?

    And there is nothing stopping an adult male from having his penis “improved” if that is how he sees it, by being circumcised.

    The owner of the organ is the only person who can legitimately determine what “improvement” consists of and whether or not he wishes to be “improved”.

    [Reply]

  15. Van Lewis
    February 5th, 2011 @ 11:03 pm

    Jake claims, “Second, I don’t believe that circumcision deprives a child of rights to his body.” For once, I agree with you, Jake. He or she cannot be deprived of those rights by anyone or anything. Those rights are unalienable. They can never be taken away with knives, Gomco clamps, bombs, or anything else. They can,however, be violated. What parents, doctors, mohels, perverts and sadists CAN take away and DO take away, and what you advocate that they be ALLOWED to take away is his body itself, at least the most ending-nerve dense part of his sex organs. What you advocate is that circumcisers be allowed to VIOLATE his rights. So did you mean it exactly like you said it, or did you really mean that you don’t believe children HAVE rights to their own body in the first place? If you won’t grant me my human rights, I won’t grant you yours, and then it’s just a question of which one of us is quicker with the knife or the gun. Are you really sure you want to play that game with me, Jake? Is it only children who have no right to keep their foreskins, or can parents elect to cut off the foreskin of their 18 year-old son as well? Who DOES have a human right to his or her body, in your opinion? ANYONE? And who has a right to cut off non-consenting boys’ healthy foreskins? Only parents? And what about that former child on the day he turns 18? Does he have a right to his foreskin then, on the first day he’s an adult? So if his parents cut it off on February 5 they go to jail but if they do it on February 4 they’re home free? Suppose they miss the deadline of midnight by a few hours but then prove that boy was actually born at noon on the 5th and so didn’t really become an adult until noon, and therefore they are in the clear because they circumcised a child, not an adult, although on his 18th birthday, but before his actual birth hour/minute/second? (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GUY!) Or does he have the right to his foreskin if and ONLY if his parents DIDN’T cut it off before midnight of his birthday? He acquires his human rights only on becoming an adult? Children aren’t human? At 11:59 4 Fe it’s still fair game if they can “perform the procedure” before midnight but at 12 Midnight 5 FE and thereafter if they do it they are human rights violators, not “procedure performers”? And if they cut it off on 4 Fe, and haven’t violated his human rights on that day, he is deprived of his foreskin every day of his adulthood for the rest of his life. Does he have a right to keep his foreskin starting on day 18 and for the rest of his life, since he’s an adult then, even if somebody did chop it off on a day when he had no right to it? You’re deluding yourself Jake, or attempting to delude people into believing you when YOU say THEY are in charge of other people’s sex organs to the extent of destroying, at their OWN whim, the most nerve-dense part of HIS penis. Parents have no business in bed with their own children, ruling their children’s sex lives long after they themselves are dead and all the way through to the deaths of their children. That is fundamentally unjust. You have a deficiency in your sense of justice, Jake. This issue has nothing to do with your illogical and false claims about abstruse medical statistics. The AAP was correct in 1971 when it said, “There are no valid medical indications for circumcision in the neonatal period.” They were right when they said in 1999 that whatever “POTENTIAL” medical benefits there might or might NOT be for any particular individual (most likely NOT, since these “potential” benefits [not ACTUAL benefits at the time of the amputation, there are only harms and additional risks at that time, and, for most people, for the rest of their lives because they would never have gotten any of the problems the circumcising was allegedly intended to prevent anyway, it being so rare] apply to so few people of all those circumcised), those hypothesized “potential” medical benefits, for which there is evidence for and against, the question is not settled, are not significant enough to justify recommending circumcising infants and therefore they do not. In other words, circumcising healthy children is medically unjustifiable by what is contained the scientific literature. Period. Where they erred is claiming that it is “legitimate” (doctors practicing law without a license here, trying to cover their asses) for parents to circumcise for cultural and religious reasons, and they’ll be glad to perform medically unjustifiable, unethical, immoral, life-threatening surgical amputations on non-consenting children who don’t need them (to say the least), most of whom will become adults some day and acquire human rights then if not on the day they are born, for a fee. This is medically unjustifiable (as they admit), unethical, and practicing law without a license. In other words, criminal.

    [Reply]

  16. Jenny
    February 6th, 2011 @ 10:31 am

    If the human male foreskin were in any way detrimental, harmful, unhealthy or even unnecessary, our species would have probably lost it evolutionarily over the fouriish million years of hominid evolution. The fact is; we haven’t. It is there for a reason.

    Baby male humans are born perfect; no modification required.

    [Reply]

    Elisabeth Reply:

    As an organ, the appendix has far less to recommend it … if we were going to go around excising “unnecessary” tissue, that’d be the one…. and yet it is considered unacceptable to remove it unless it is diseased.

    I mean, really… a person can die from a burst appendix. By the pro-circer’s logic we should be removing all of those potential harbors for pathogens at birth!

    Appendicitis is the main reason for abdominal surgery in children, with four of every 1,000 children needing the appendix removed before age 14. That’s far higher than the rates of UTIs or penile cancer! And there is no medical treatment for an infected appendix (unlike a UTI which has a simple treatment)… it’s a death sentence if it isn’t removed surgically.

    I wonder why all of these people who are so up in arms about protecting children’s health don’t start insisting on mandatory appendectomies at birth… (probably because there is no sexual thrill for them.)

    [Reply]

    Jenny Reply:

    Elisabeth, wonderful addendum to my post!

    [Reply]

  17. Roxanne
    February 6th, 2011 @ 10:36 am

    It is wrong to cut off healthy, non-diseased tissue from an unconsentinh person even if the said person is a minor.
    We no longer routinely remove the appendix or the tonsils without medical indication.

    Hair and nails are not living tissue and causes no pain or harm thus can be cut.

    If a child or unconcisious persons trapped and amputation of a limb is the only way to free them then it is allowed.

    If a child is sick and needs surgery to be well then the surgery or interventions are allowed.

    Cutting pieces off a child’s healthy functional genitals is wrong.
    I’d even say it is wrong to have genital surgery on an intersexed child unless surgery was needed to help with urination.

    (on my phone sorry for any typos)

    [Reply]

  18. Another Intactivist
    February 6th, 2011 @ 12:11 pm

    I don’t understand why anyone argues reduced UTI as a benefit to circumcision. Even if the controversial studies are correct, the odds are quite slim that any one individual baby boy will even contract a UTI. Many have mentioned circumcising 100 boys to prevent one UTI. How can pro-circers see that as a benefit? (Though, of course, you never hear them put it into those numbers.) Based on the data from one individual study, you’d have to circumcise 455 babies to prevent one UTI.

    Pro-circers can argue health benefits all they want, but it doesn’t change this: newborns and children are not sexually active so they are at no risk for STIs/sexually transmitted HIV–for which condoms are far more effective–and that’s even if the African studies are correct; risk of penile cancer is less than male breast cancer, so if they aren’t cutting off breasts for prophylactic purposes, there is no justification to cut the foreskin for this prophylactic purpose (not to mention that the vast majority of penile cancer deaths are aged 70+ and there are only ~200/yr); UTIs are rare in boys compared to girls–who are not circumcised even though some studies have shown benefit of reduced UTI from FGM–and UTIs are almost always easily treated with antibiotics or homeopathic remedies; the natural penis of a baby is easier to clean than the circumcision wound, the natural penis possesses self-cleansing measures, and the retractable natural penis is still easier to clean and less ‘dirty’ than the female vulva.

    So, in summary, on the one side there is no diagnosed medical necessity; potential long-term benefits are debatable at best; the supposed long-term benefits are less effective than simple, cost-effective, non-invasive measures; and hygiene is a non-issue. So, the best arguments *for* circumcision are actually reduced to non-arguments.

    Then we have the risks that outweigh these non-benefits: the procedure itself risks acute shock, blood loss, infection, adhesions (developed in 71% of all circumcised American babies), meatal stenosis, botched circumcisions, loss of part or all of the penis, additional surgery, stroke, heart attack, and death. The procedure also causes distinct biochemical changes in babies’ brains due to suffering such extreme pain, decreased pain threshold, and interferes with breastfeeding. I should point out that this procedure is so excruciatingly painful that some babies have actually broken bones by straining so hard against the soft foam straps that restrain them to the circumstraint.

    Long-term complications range from things like painful erections, painful intercourse, curved and/or hairy (skin pulled up from the scrotum) penises b/c of too much skin being removed, loss of sensitivity for every circumcised male, altered sexual mechanics for every circumcised male, contribution to sexual dysfunction in sexual partners, ED, the requirement of lube for masturbation and intercourse (natural penises don’t *require* lube except for anal sex or if a female partner suffers from vaginal dryness), etc.

    Because it has been shown there are actual physiological changes in brain chemistry and because of the violation of the infant’s natural instinct to trust adult caregivers, there is interest and study in the long-term psychological affects, particularly in reference to aggression and anger. Is it merely a coincidence that most of the most violent societies in the world have high rates of circumcision (USA and predominately Muslim/Jewish countries)?

    And, last, but, most importantly, is the issue of every human being’s right to genital integrity. If adults feel that the supposed health benefits outweigh the lifelong reduction in sexual pleasure, they have every right to choose this prophylactic measure. But, even if all the pro-circ data is 100% accurate, at it’s absolute possible best, circumcision is and will never be anything more than a *limited* prophylactic measure. It is not a parent’s right to weigh that choice for a child who will not even be exposed to all but one of those supposed benefits until adulthood or near-adulthood.

    For the sake of all the readers who may be reading this in an effort to gain factual, unbiased information on circumcision, I think it’s prudent to mention that ‘Jake’ is the infamous circumfetishist Jake of Wikipedia. I’ve read his comments from CircList. He’s an individual who suffered from body dysmorphic disorder from a very young age, his particular issue being his foreskin. He was circumcised as an adult and couldn’t be happier with the result. B/c he had such a burning desire to *not* have a foreskin, he projects that same desire on other men and assumes that most–if not all–males have no need or desire for an essential part of an organ that he personally considered superfluous. Jake, here, had the choice to cut off his foreskin as a consenting, informed adult based on his own desires and wants, yet he doesn’t feel babies should be given such a choice b/c he’s too biased by his own personal preference. And his arguments are just ridiculous to read. He claims he’s not *for* anything except parental choice, yet he argues fiercely and intensively for a cosmetic procedure to be performed on infants without medical necessity.

    [Reply]

  19. Lars
    February 6th, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

    I’d like to address two topics that proponents of circumcision like to throw out there constantly to defend the practice.

    1. Reduced risk of STDs (especially HIV): Let’s assume that the studies showing an increased risk in HIV in intact men are completely conclusive for a moment… which they’re not. Other studies since have shown very conflicting data, so nothing is definitive as of yet. But let’s just say they are for now. We’ll say that a circumcised man has only a 60% chance of contracting HIV from a female partner. Am I the only one here that realizes that’s still like playing Russian Roulette with 3 out of 5 bullets in the revolver? Circumcision, at best, is hardly a preventative measure, and by itself does little, if any, to prevent the spread of any STDs. And that’s assuming that every study supporting circumcision as a preventive measure is accurate! You still have to either abstain, or use a condom, people!

    Also, let’s look at some undisputed facts:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_HIV/AIDS_adult_prevalence_rate
    The US has TRIPLE the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of other 1st-World countries, and we are the ONLY 1st-World country to routinely circumcise. That’s how circumcision prevents AIDS in real life… as in, not at all.

    2: The UTI thing. Again, let’s assume that all studies showing an increase in UTIs for intact infants is correct. 10-12x the infection rate of circumcised babies would bring that up to… a whopping 1%!! Yes, that’s right. We are cutting off 1,000,000 foreskins to prevent 10,000 UTIs that could be treated quite easily with a standard antibiotic. Not only that, but the supposed increase in UTIs only applies to a baby’s first year. After that, the playing field is level again.

    So what are we left with? A cosmetic surgery with no medical necessity. Cultural bias. Personal prejudice. And that’s about it.

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    “Reduced risk of STDs (especially HIV): Let’s assume that the studies showing an increased risk in HIV in intact men are completely conclusive for a moment… which they’re not. Other studies since have shown very conflicting data, so nothing is definitive as of yet. ”

    That’s an extraordinary misrepresentation of the literature. To correct it, there have been more than 40 *observational* studies of circumcision and HIV, and three randomised controlled trials (a much stronger, experimental study design). The majority of the observational studies have found a protective effect, as have all of the RCTs.

    “We’ll say that a circumcised man has only a 60% chance of contracting HIV from a female partner. Am I the only one here that realizes that’s still like playing Russian Roulette with 3 out of 5 bullets in the revolver?”

    Well, you’ve certainly misunderstood what is meant by the quoted relative risk reduction, which is *relative* to the risk of an uncircumcised man. That is, if the risk for an uncircumcised man is 5 in 10,000 acts of intercourse, the risk for a circumcised man is 3 in 10,000.

    “Also, let’s look at some undisputed facts:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_HIV/AIDS_adult_prevalence_rate
    The US has TRIPLE the HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of other 1st-World countries, and we are the ONLY 1st-World country to routinely circumcise. That’s how circumcision prevents AIDS in real life… as in, not at all.”

    The obvious problem, of course, is that circumcision is not the only difference between countries, so you’ve failed to isolate the effect of the variable you’re trying to measure.

    “The UTI thing. Again, let’s assume that all studies showing an increase in UTIs for intact infants is correct. 10-12x the infection rate of circumcised babies would bring that up to… a whopping 1%!! Yes, that’s right.”

    1-2% is about right in the first year of life. The lifetime risk for an uncircumcised male is probably about 20%.

    “… Not only that, but the supposed increase in UTIs only applies to a baby’s first year.”

    Wrong. It extends through childhood and into adulthood. See, for example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1472171

    [Reply]

    Lars Reply:

    If you’re going to supply a single study example, perhaps one more recent than almost 20 years ago would be beneficial. According to the most recent policy by the AAP, “the majority of UTI in males occur during the first year of life”, and they cite “rates of 0.7% to 1.4% reported for uncircumcised males in the United States and Canada.” I’d love to hear how you got your 20%. Even if your ridiculous number held any water, it doesn’t justify cutting off body parts when antibiotics will suffice.

    As far as the world view, please offer your hypothesis on what other major factors you believe are skewing the US AIDS rate. More to the point, if circumcision provides such a high protection against STDs (or anything else for that matter), why don’t the numbers play out anywhere? Recent stats, please.

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    “If you’re going to supply a single study example, perhaps one more recent than almost 20 years ago would be beneficial.”

    No problem. Here’s a non-exhaustive list for you. Craig (1996) included boys 0-5 years, To (1998) included boys aged 0-3 years, Kim (1996) included boys up to 15 years, Kwak (2004) included boys up to 14.5 years, Conway (2007) up to 6 years.

    Refs:

    Craig JC, Knight JF, Sureshkumar P, Mantz E, Roy LP. Effect of circumcision on incidence of urinary tract infection in preschool boys. J Pediatr. 1996;128:23-7

    To T, Agha M, Dick PT, Feldman W. Cohort study on circumcision of newborn boys and subsequent risk of urinary-tract infection. Lancet. 1998 Dec 5;352(9143):1813-6

    Kim KK. Preputial condition and urinary tract infections. J Korean Med Sci. 1996 Aug;11(4):332-4

    Kwak C, Oh SJ, Lee A, Choi H. Effect of circumcision on urinary tract infection after successful antireflux surgery. BJU Int. 2004 Sep;94(4):627-9

    Conway PH, Cnaan A, Zaoutis T, Henry BV, Grundmeier RW, Keren R. Recurrent urinary tract infections in children: risk factors and association with prophylactic antimicrobials. JAMA. 2007 Jul 11;298(2):179-86.

    “According to the most recent policy by the AAP, “the majority of UTI in males occur during the first year of life”, and they cite “rates of 0.7% to 1.4% reported for uncircumcised males in the United States and Canada.” I’d love to hear how you got your 20%.”

    Certainly. According to an NIH publication (Griebling, cited below), “Between 1988 and 1994, the overall lifetime prevalence of UTI in men was estimated to be 13,689 cases per 100,000 adult men, based on the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES-III) (Tables 2 and 3).” To estimate the risk for uncircumcised men, you need to adjust this figure for circumcision status using published risk ratios and circumcision rates for the US population. Depending on the assumptions made, the result is between 20 and 44%. I quoted the most figure least favourable to circumcision.

    Griebling TL. Urinary tract infection in men. In: Litwin MS, Saigal CS, editors. Urologic Diseases in America. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 2007; NIH Publication No. 07–5512. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/statistics/uda/Urinary_Tract_Infection_in_Men-Chapter19.pdf

    “As far as the world view, please offer your hypothesis on what other major factors you believe are skewing the US AIDS rate.”

    Historically at least, the US has had relatively poor levels of sex education and condom usage. It would seem likely that such differences would lead to greater risk of STIs, don’t you think? Here are some refs for you:

    Michael RT, et al. Private sexual behavior, public opinion, and public health policy related to sexually transmitted diseases: a US-British comparison. Am J Public Health. 1998 May;88(5):749-54

    Weinberg MS, et al. AIDS risk reduction strategies among United States and Swedish heterosexual university students. Arch Sex Behav. 1998 Aug;27(4):385-401

    Brick P. How does Europe do it? Fam Life Matters. 1999 Winter;(36):3

    [Reply]

    Joseph4GI Reply:

    No amount of “medical benefits,” no number of “studies” would ever be enough to justify female infant circumcision.

    The fact that there are actually “researchers” “studying” ways to justify this in healthy infant boys who are not able to speak for themselves is disgusting and despicable.

    “Studies” that place primacy in necessitating the deliberate destruction of the healthy human body are pure quackery, plain and simple, and it is a disgrace that they are allowed to continue this day in age.

    We may as well be studying breast ironing, feet binding and skull trephination.

    “Medical research” seeks to PRESERVE the human body. Find ways to cure it and prevent disease WITHOUT deliberately cutting off parts of it.

    “Medical research” that places primacy in trying to preserve age-old tradition over preserving the integrity of the human body is inherently flawed.

    It’s all quackery and it needs to be thrown out.

    The rights of the child come first.

    A biased “researcher’s” opinion SECOND.

    Unless there is clear medical indication for surgery, doctors have no business performing surgery in healthy, non-consenting individuals, much less giving parents any kind of a “choice.”

    Circumcision is the destruction of normal healthy tissue. It is the permanent disfigurement of what would otherwise by anatomically correct male genitalia.

    “Studying” the deliberate destruction of normal healthy tissue is sick, twisted and perverted, especially when it is “studying” ways to justify it in healthy, non-consenting children.

    Jake, keep to your masturbation groups at circlist and gilgal. You and your buddies are sick, twisted and perverted.

    [Reply]

  20. JustMe
    February 6th, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    You know, we could argue all day long about whether or not “your” studies are more accurate, or “my” studies are more accurate. It’s not the point, really.

    Lets assume for the sake of argument that circumcision reduces UTI’s. Does that notion make routine infant circumcision morally and ethically justifiable? Lets assume for the sake of argument that it reduces the risk of acquiring/passing on a sexually transmitted disease. Does that notion make circumcision morally and ethically justifiable?

    Morally and ethically, the end should never justify the means. Does ric, the means, justify a reduced risk of std’s or uti’s, the end?

    [Reply]

    darlene Reply:

    Jake the Fetishist and I went around and around about this already but to no avail. Apparently “parental choice” is more important than bodily integrity or individual rights. To hell with modern liberalism!

    [Reply]

    darlene Reply:

    But despite our previous failures at making a dent in this guy’s logical fallacies, I commend you for trying! I’ve had it.

    [Reply]

  21. JustMe
    February 6th, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

    Oh, parental choice? I’d love to see this “Jake’s” answer, sorry, haven’t had time to read all the posts above – massive amount!

    But we could ask the same of parental choice right? I mean… nearly everything happening in an infants life is a result of a parental choice. So, is circumcision ok, because it is a parental choice? Is circumcision justified because it was chosen, for an infant, by a parent?

    [Reply]

    JustMe Reply:

    No response from Jake yet, but did read “his” (?) latest – seems like all “he” cares about is studies/statistics, rather than moral and ethical issues. That’s too bad! But that does say a lot about “him” perhaps ;)

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    Actually, JustMe, I’m having some trouble understanding what the actual question is. I’m not saying that circumcision is justified because it’s a parental choice. I’m saying that the balance between risks and benefits of circumcision is such that there’s no justification for limiting parental choices.

    Regarding your later comment, yes, I’m much more interested in discussing studies and statistics than moral or ethical issues. Science can find globally correct truths, so it seems to me that there is a point in debating scientific questions. Moral and ethical questions will always depend on one’s personal values and personal system of ethics, so it seems to me that there’s very little point debating them, as we’ll never agree.

    [Reply]

  22. Larissa
    February 6th, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

    I have to say I have found it incredibly disturbing that someone has spent literally hours and hours on this blog focusing on defending their own choice of being able to force a fellow human being to be tied down in restraints so healthy tissue can be permanently removed without that person’s informed consent. If an informed, consenting adult opts for this surgery then that is fine and more power to them. What any person wants to do with their own genitals is their business, not their parents’ or anyone else’s. The fact that anyone would spend so much time advocating forcing children to undergo this procedure is to say the least very disturbing. I hope one day this outdated practice will be outlawed from practice on minors.

    [Reply]

  23. Joseph4GI
    February 7th, 2011 @ 5:52 am

    The foreskin is not a birth defect. Neither is it a deformity or genetic anomally like a cleft, 6th finger or a disfiguring birthmark.

    The foreskin is normal, healthy tissue with which every human male is born with at birth.

    Unless there is concrete medical or clinical indication, circumcision is the destruction of normal, healthy genital tissue.

    Unless there is concrete medical or clinical indication, or unless it is a fully consenting adult requesting this for himself, yes, circumcision is by very definition infant genital mutilation.

    And yes, it is child abuse.

    Unless there is clear, medical or clinical indication, doctors have absolutely no business performing surgery in healthy, non-consenting children, much less giving parents any kind of a “choice.”

    It is a confidence trick to be trying to make parents feel entitled to this mutilation that doctors can’t even be performing.

    [Reply]

  24. Joseph4GI
    February 7th, 2011 @ 7:27 am

    The circumcision of a healthy, non-consenting child of any sex is genital mutilation. It is child abuse.

    And when a practice is abusive, it doesn’t matter that there are any “benefits,” and so many “studies” that prove them.

    No amount of “studies,” “research” or “medical science” justifies abuse, EVER.

    “Studies” that seek to legitimize the deliberate abuse of healthy, non-consenting individuals, should be against the law.

    “Studies” and “research” needs to be finding cures for diseases, not pseudo-medical alibis for abuse.

    [Reply]

  25. Van Lewis
    February 7th, 2011 @ 9:53 am

    Jake, do infants and other children have any human rights?

    Do they have all of the human rights that adults do?

    Is one of the rights of adults the right to bodily integrity, to retain the normal, healthy, living body parts they have?

    Do infants and other children have this same right to bodily integrity, to retain the normal, healthy, living body parts they have?

    Jake refuses to address the primary issue, which is the human rights of the child and the adult that child may become if s/he survives the assault on his genitals and all other unnecessary parental, medical, and other assaults on the integrity of his person, body and soul. Therefore Jake and all of his abstruse statistical arguments are irrelevant to the real debate. I think that has been shown clearly here. The unfortunate part is that some parents are not capable of or do not desire to understand Jake’s deception. How can a person be this evil, to try to justify parents and doctors imposing for life on others (babies and children, yet) a medically unnecessary, medically unjustifiable (AAP – 1970 – 7 Fe 2011 at least), immoral, unethical, sick, criminal sexual mutilation? One must be a really twisted person and liar to do it, it seems to me. I guess too many parents want to be deceived like this. But the times are changing. Jake and the rest of the mutilators and mutilationists are being left in the dustbin of history. Human rights will prevail, even in American medicine.

    [Reply]

    darlene Reply:

    I truly believe that within my lifetime, this practice will be outlawed and younger generations will ask, “Did they really do this? Why??!!” because literally no one has this happen to them in this country, or even continent, anymore. I truly believe it.

    I hold a lot of hope.

    [Reply]

    darlene Reply:

    Sorry, bad, bad syntax. “…no one *will have*…”

    [Reply]

    Larissa Reply:

    I really and truly hope so Darlene!

    [Reply]

  26. Jack W.
    February 17th, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

    I realize I’m coming late to this discussion and my post will likely go unread but I have to chime in. Pro-circ advocates have yet to explain why cultures where RIC does not take place have the same or lower incidents of HIV and STDs than the US where the majority of males now over 18 are circumcised. I could accept one statistical anomaly but when the data across the entire spectrum appears flawed I have to assume that circumcision is not a prophylactic procedure and there are other forces at work here.

    The flawed African studies have been cited as proof of the efficacy of circumcision in preventing HIV infection 50-60% of the time in unprotected heterosexual sex. (Female to male NOT male to female!) Those data are being used to justify American parents ordering the mutilation of their son’s (and every newborn boy’s) genitals to protect him. Let’s talk about HIV and your son’s penis.

    Let’s do the math (based on US Census Bureau and CDC statistics).
    -US Population: about 300 million
    -People living with AIDS at any one time in the US: 2 million
    -Percentage that contract AIDS via homosexual activity 55%
    -Percentage that contract AIDS via sex with high risk individuals (Prostitutes and IV drug users); 30%
    -Percentage that contract AIDS via dirty IV needles (condition of the prepuce won’t protect him here): 14%
    -Percentage that contract AIDS by other means (health care workers, blood transfusions, CPR gone bad, bad luck) 1 %

    So your son will have to avoid sex with 1% of two million people (20,000). But wait. At least half (maybe more) of those will be male and there is no claim of homosexual protection. He will have to avoid sex with 10,000 women (maybe fewer). But wait; about half those will fall in the less sexual active/over 35 category. Cougars notwithstanding, his pool of possible hookups is about 5,000. But wait. What makes you think all those 5,000 women want to have sex with him? And vice versa? Let’s say a generous 10% will find mutual attraction. Let’s assume that the 500 possible female hookups spread across fifty states and six territories will desire to have unprotected intercourse with your son. If they know they have AIDS will they hide it from him and have sex anyway? We are talking about a miniscule risk here; .00000333% of the US population are a possible threat.

    Bringing the percentages into perspective it is obvious that there is very little risk for the average heterosexual male “catching” AIDS in America. However, there is a very high risk of catching a plethora of other diseases not claimed to be prevented by penile mutilation.

    According to the CDC one in six American adults carries the Genital Herpes virus. Pile all the other sexually transmitted diseases on and you’ve got a cesspool of disease out there. Why on earth would anyone in their right mind be having unprotected sex in this day and age?

    Here’s an idea. Let’s deal with some much higher percentages. Infant circumcision exposes baby boys to the risk of infection, scarring, meatal stenosis, amputation, and even death. Rather than surgically altering your son at birth to allegedly, partially protect him from minimally existent threats, why don’t you teach him to avoid promiscuous unprotected sex with multiple partners, prostitutes and IV drug users? Barring that, he could always fall back on the highly effective method of prevention, condoms (http://www.cdc.gov/nchstp/od/condoms.pdf)

    When he is old enough; he can make his own decision on what his penis should look like.

    [Reply]

    Jonathan McLeod Reply:

    Thanks Jack. Your comment is much appreciated.

    [Reply]

  27. Fat Arse
    February 18th, 2011 @ 1:47 pm

    And it rears its “head” again, see debate at: http://www.jesusandmo.net/2011/02/18/slack/

    [Reply]

  28. Christoper Wickman
    June 20th, 2011 @ 4:34 am

    Hey awesome weblog, simply questioning what anti-spam software program program you use for feedback simply because i get tons on my weblog. Anyway, in my language, there could not a lot excellent provide like it.

    [Reply]

  29. Barry
    January 12th, 2013 @ 2:01 am

    I say put all circumcisers of under-18s in jail

    [Reply]

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The Commons has brought together a diverse cross-section of unique and intelligent voices to generate meaningful debate and discussion. All contributors have made the solemn commitment to cultivate respectful, honest, vigorous, and open dialogue—and to promote that very kind of dialogue within the larger Canadian political discourse.