Wednesday, June 8, 2011

what i learned about...part 1

had our first child been a boy, he would have been a circumcision (i think).  i did not do a lot of research about anything before our first child was born and since my husband is (like 95% of the boys in the mid-west) so would have been our first child.

thank GOD we had a girl.

i don't think i had ever really thought about it until i became facebook friends with the talented mrs guggie daly

(thank you)

all of a sudden, i was seeing lots of articles, personal stories and medical journal articles and websites and videos saying that circumcision is bad.  whaaaat??

so i started to read.  and watch.  with horror.

look, i watch a lot of scary movies, lots of zombies and people getting blown up.  i am used to that.  this.  this is by far the worse thing i have ever heard or seen in my life.   and this is real.  it happened to these babies and it happens to newborn babies all over north america every single day.

you know, a lot of people claim that it doesn't hurt the babies.  if that is the case, before you circumcise him, can i go and pinch your baby's foreskin?  would you let me?  no?  possibly, because...that would hurt?  okay, now imagine that instead of pinch, i meant take a metal clamp which will crush your baby's foreskin.  and then i will take an instrument and insert it into the area that is fused to the glans, tear it apart and then slice off the skin.  is this okay?

lots of people think it's okay.  i do not.  here is why:

the top ten things i learned about routine infant circumcision and why i think you should take your WHOLE baby home

1.  that foreskin serves a function.  whether you believe God made you or that you evolved, baby boys are BORN with a foreskin.  it is meant to be there and serves protective and sexual functions.

2.  the baby's right to have their whole body.  many parents say that it is their right to have a part of their son's body removed.  i disagree.  unless you have ownership of that little body (and you don't - that child is yours to protect from harm and to love and to care for, only) you have no right to take a part of his body by force.  would you do it to your 10 year old?  a 17 year old?  i am sure they would object.  those cries in the first video above sound like objection to me. 

3.  the faulty STD claims.  circumcision supporters always reference the Africa studies.  well, here is what we know about the Africa studies - in half of them, there were some positive results and in the other half, negative results.  and then the scientists examining the data decided the info was all faulty!  but sweep that aside and lets look closer to home.  if circumcision is the way to prevent HIV, then why, in the country with the highest percentage of circumcised men, does the USA have also the highest rate of HIV in the developed world?  why is the rate of HIV so low in european countries - where the men are mostly intact?  the only thing that will prevent the transmission of HIV is a condom or abstinence.  to say otherwise is irresponsible. 

4.  the need to have your child's genitals look like your genitals.  for the record, i never compared my vulva with my mother's vulva and i really doubt that boys compare their penis' with their father's.  if they do notice it looks different, all you have to tell them is that daddy had a surgery, but you don't need it.  if your husband is missing a finger, should we chop off the baby's finger, too?  so they match?  no. and for those that say it should be left to the husband to decide, i really think it ought to be left to the one who HAS all their genitals, not the parent that is missing parts of theirs.

5.  baby boys deserve the same protection that baby girls get.  FGM is illegal in north america.  all types, including type 4 FGM which is a tiny pinprick to the clitoris to get a single drop of blood.  male circumcision is far more severe than that.  all children deserve to have all of the genitalia that they were born with.  FGM is culturally accepted in many african countries.  just because MGM is culturally accepted in our society does not make it okay.

6.  it's cleaner to circumcise, right?  it's nothing a little soap and water can't handle.  in infancy, the intact penis only needs to be wiped, like a finger.  do not retract the foreskin as this will cause damage to the membranes that are fusing the foreskin to the glans.  the membranes will detach on their own as the child matures, commonly in early puberty.  at this point, you would show the child how to retract, give a little soap and water and be done.  i have a baby girl and i find it difficult to get into the folds of her vulva to keep it all clean - taking care of girl baby parts is far more difficult than keeping an intact baby boy's penis clean.  (keep in mind that if you circumcise your child, you will have to deal with ten days of urine and feces getting on an open wound (which is painful on it's own).  as far as UTI's are concerned, yes there is a slight increase in the chance of an intact boy getting a UTI.  that said, girls will still get significantly more UTI's than an intact boy ever will.  really, just watch this, it says it all:

7.  circumcision interferes with breastfeeding.  it does.  there is no doubt in my mind that there is a correlation between the low breastfeeding rates in north america and the high circumcision rate.  it's not impossible to breastfeed a circumcised baby, but it does make it more difficult.  also, it should be noted that what ever benefit to UTI's a circumcision may have is, it is trumped by simply breastfeeding. 

8.  the psychological impact.  in my infant cognitive perception class, i learned how everything tiny thing alters the hard wiring of an infant's brain in the first few months of life.

9.  "i'm a christian/catholic/jew and my religion requires me to do it."  actually no, it does not. when Jesus died on the cross, the old covenant was broken, Jesus' blood was shed so that yours (and your son's) did not have to be shed.  the new testament is riddled with verses that say the exact opposite of "you must circumcise."  the catholic catechism (item 2297: respect for bodily integrity) says:

... Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilation­s, and sterilizat­ions performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.

Pope Pius XII said "From a moral point of view, circumcision is permissibl­e if, in accordance with therapeuti­c principles­, it prevents a disease that cannot be countered in any other way." 

even the jewish circumcision of old was a slit in the foreskin, not an amputation like it is done today.

10.  mommas.  listen to me.  you have carried that baby in your womb for nine months.  everyday you told that baby you loved him, that you couldn't wait to meet him and that you had great hopes for him.  the minute that baby is placed in your arms, you will fall in love.  you will tell him he is perfect and that you will always protect him.  he IS perfect, just the way nature and God intended.  when they come to take your baby away for what will likely be the most painful and psychologically brain altering procedure he will ever have; when every cell in your body is screaming to not let them take him away because as his mother, you know, YOU KNOW this is going to hurt him and you will have broken promises to him in his first hours of life; when this happens, mommas, just say no.  say no because that intense desire to protect your baby is also from God and nature.  you are designed to want to protect your baby from harm.  don`t go against nature and your instincts - they are there for a reason.

circumcision rates are falling in north america - about 32% in the USA and 10% in Canada.  it is estimated that 80-90% of all men on earth are intact.  not one medical association in the world recommends routine infant circumcision.  educate yourself on the procedure, make an informed choice.

when we know better, we do better - Maya Angelou 

for more information: (Penn and Teller Episode)


  1. L is circ'd I had done so much research prior to his birth but this is one thing I left to his father. Since he's circ'd he was done. I felt so horrible when doing it I cried the whole time. I knew I didn't really want to and still feel guilty when going through with it.
    He was 2 weeks old when it was done. There were no complications but for the first time he was so upset he didn't even want to nurse. I was told he had two numbing needles and wouldn't feel a thing- trust me he did! This was the first time he wasn't the most happy content baby he went through a horrible fussy stage the entire next month.

    I am scared to have another son because my partner feels so strongly this is best:(

  2. oh kirston, this breaks my heart. check out some of the links i posted at the end of this blog post - there should be some info that will help you convince him. one thing you can tell him is that the majority of men that use viagra, etc, are canadian and the american. this is because circumcision keratinizes the head the of penis, causing it to loose sensation over time. it is why guys in north america have to thrust so hard where as we have all heard what gentle lovers europeans make - they have their foreskins, which protects the head of the penis from crusting over.

    did he watch L get circ'd? if he didn't, make him watch some videos. make him read. like i said, he is missing his parts, he doesn't know what he is missing. or you can just tell him "over my dead body" like i have told my husband!

    i am sure you have seen news coverage about the circ ban they are trying to put through in san francisco - i sincerely hope it passes. there are a few european countries trying to ban it. it will be banned in my lifetime, i believe that! hopefully sooner so it's not a decision you'll ever have to make again.

  3. Thank you for taking a stand on this! I was in the same boat as you in the beginning. If A had been a boy, we probably would have circumcised, because it was important to my husband (he claimed it was cleaner, less chance for STDs, and that it wasn't a big deal, etc.). Thankfully we had a girl, and it wasn't an issue.

    As I did more research over the years, and especially once we found out baby #2 was a boy, I became more and more convinced that it was an absolutely unnecessary and horrifyingly cruel procedure. The turning point for me was when I realized that I could not bear the thought of being in the room with my son while undergoing the procedure, but the only alternative was to abandon him and listen to his screams from another room. I wasn't okay with that.

    Hopefully the tides are turning, and this will one day be one of those issues that people will look back on with disbelief!!