Sometimes i am so upset about how many people have been conditioned in the country when it comes to circumcision. How we are taught(including medical professionals) that circumcision is cleaner and better. So, i want to move to Europe. In many european countries, i would be surrounded by millions of people who thought like i do. That circumcision is a unnnecessary surgery and one that should not be performed on infants since there is no medical need for it. Sometimes i come out guns blazing on this issue and sometimes i admit, sadly i back down. People will tell me i should back down, it isn't my kid and why do i care since it isn't my kid. I care the same way a person cares about someone who has been hurt or abused...it doesn't have to effect my life to care(no I am not say those that circumcise makes you an abuser even if i disagree with it strongly...just trying to explain how i can care about something that doesn't "effect me and mine"). I don't think people that circumcise their sons(or daughters from those cultures that do) are horrible people. I myself circumcised my eldest in ignorance and i think many people circumcise in ignorance. Do you know how many people i suprise when i tell them things like "no health organization recommends routine infant circumsion". "In europe you rarely hear of a boy being circumcised and their intact penises are not infected at every turn". "Baby's have died from circumcision(yes extremely rare, but happens) and many have life long complications". Generally if someone has had a child circumcised they get defensive...i get that.. That was me when Hunter(my five year old) was a baby. How dare someone question my parenting? How dare she tell me i didn't have all the facts? How dare she say it is insane to take a perfectly healthy body part and cut it off for pretty much no reason?" How dare she??? Well, i thank god every day she dared. If she hadn't i may have lived in my bubble and had our youngest circumcised(despite my oldest having complications). Yeah, even with complications if no one actually told me the facts i may have still circumcised my second son, because that is what you do and better to have some adhesions(which are a big deal) than infections(cuz i thought intact meant infections and dirty). I'm just kind of rambling with this blog and not really going anywhere...but i have some quotes i'd like people to read.
Hi. My name is Patricia and my son, Michael is 4 months old. His story is a very difficult one, but I am hoping that anyone out there trying to make a decision on whether or not to circumcise will read my story and learn from it. Some may call this an anecdote, but I like to think of it as a lesson to anyone who thinks that circumcision is something that is harmless or painless.
I live in the midwest. The idea of not circumcising seemed foreign to me. No one had ever presented a case as to not to do it, and truthfully, I didn't know that there was such controversy on the whole subject. I remember everyone telling me that this is just what is done and that it is a healthy and painless thing to do. I thought that all they did was cut the tip of the foreskin and the rest of it just fell away from the head. Shows how stupid I was.
I remember them taking my son from me, sleeping and wrapped in his little blanket. They said he'd be back shortly and that there was nothing to worry about. I was nervous and I had this funny feeling in the pit of my stomach- like maybe I should just let him be. I mean, I didn't see anything wrong with his penis, so why didn't I just say something?
An hour passed and I had heard nothing back. I was starting to get worried when the doctor came into my room telling me there had been a complication. The clamp they had used had gotten stuck and the head of my son's penis had been partially severed. He almost bled to death on the table and they had to put him under so they could try to reattach the head to his penis. I totally freaked out. Immediately the doctor left the room as I was sobbing like crazy, and my husband was in complete shock.
Three hours later the doctor came back and said they had been able to reattach the tip of the penis, but they would have to wait and see what the long term effects would be.
He has since had two infections and the scar site continues to bleed. He still cries everytime he pees, and we don't know if he will ever have proper function of his penis. He is scheduled to visit another pediatric urologist who will be able to evaulate him better and perhaps do a little more repair work. I will never be able to forgive myself for not being more educated on the subject of circumcision, and for not just being happy with the way he was. Not in a million years will what he has gone through ever be worth whatever supposed health benefits that circumcision is supposed to provide.
Although cases like my son's are rare, they do happen.I have violated the most private part of his body to satisfy some kind of bizarre cultural ritual. He will forever have the scars from my ignorance.
I have since filed a malpractice lawsuit against my doctor who did this, and have become very active in the anti-circumcision community. No one should ever have to go through this kind of pain. Even a "normal" circumcision is extremely painful for the baby. Imagine having half of your penis severed in the process.
Don't ever think this couldn't happen to your child. Don't ever think that it won't be your number picked from the hat. This doesn't HAVE to happen! That's the thing. There is no reason for this surgery and there never will be. There is no risk to just leaving your son's body the way nature intended it to be. The only time there are risks is when you introduce something unnatural to the equation. It's not worth it. People will try to compare this to car accidents or plane crashes. Some things are out of our control- however, this isn't.
I'm sorry this got so long. My heart breaks every time I write about this and every time I give my son a bath or change his diaper I am reminded. I sincerely hope that anyone thinking of this will think twice. Know the facts- and that is you have no right to put anyone through such pain based on ignorance and bias"-Patricia
"Circumcision: Not An Option. Let me explain myself further...also let me give you the european stand point on this issue. To perform or not to perform circumcision is not an option here....what I mean, there is no question which way to go.....not to circumcise is the logical answer and never is an issue unless for religious reasons. The whole act itself is looked at as either a religious ritual or a third world tribal practice. [It] stuns Europeans all the time when they find out that Americans actually choose to do this, and what stuns them even more are the reasons for choosing circumcision. I guess I just always took it for granted that my sons intact penis was nothing special, just like keeping all his fingers or other parts of his body intact. I guess, even in the most sophisticated societies, witch burning scenerios can still take place. I am sorry if this sounds so harsh, but coming from this side of the world, that is how it is looked at. I am glad to see that evolution is taking place..in the way that people are becoming more informed about this unneeded, barbaric practice." --Hollieann (1999)
"I'm an American who had the privledge of living abroad in the UK for 3 years. Now, I've always been an open-minded, fairly aware individual, but living in the UK I really learned how Americo-centric I was. It's truly hard not to be, because it's ingrained in our culture, and our education. But, it's really helpful to try to be aware of that when you are thinking and talking about other countries and their culture . . . because, believe it or not, we can learn A LOT from other people!
Anyway, I learned a lot about circ when my son was born in the UK. He was born at home (which, is also a wonderful and more common option overseas). Not having really thought too much about circ beforehand, we started asking our midwife and GP (doctor) about it, and were met with a look of horror, followed closely by a brief explanation that its really an uneccessary outdated procedure that isn't done anymore, etc., followed by an explanation stated outloud, but I think it was for their own benefit ... something about 'Well, I forgot that it's a cultural thing American's do.' We spoke to our European friends about it and were met with similar responses. We finally did the research, and realised what that what we had grown up learning and believing in the US really had little bearing on reality regarding circs. I'm so greatful we had that cultural reality check. America is the last industrialized country to move toward leaving our son's whole. I truly believe we will come around and follow suit from our European counterparts . . . It's already starting to happen." -Julie
"In the general United States population, the prevailing attitude toward circumcision -even in spite of the current controversy surrounding it- is one of non-chalance and even apathy. Parents will lots of times say that their doctor recommended it, yet every doctor I spoke to at a recent neonatal conference at a major teaching university hospital says that they do it "because the parents want it"; it is to save the parents going to someone else and/or because they feel that they "do good ones". The "blame" gets shifted, and through this, babies continue to be circumcised. It is a cultural force which is very strong."
"After reading extensively about circumcision, it is clear to me that the procedure is absolutely unecessary. The reported medical benefits of this surgery are constantly being called into question, and, even in the studies that claim to show a reduction in disease rate, the benefit is very small, usually just one or two percent. Also, UTIs and STDs don't seem to be more of a problem in Europe, where very fewer men are circumcised. Furthermore, medical studies of disease rates in circumcised vs. uncircumcised populations are really irrelevant when one examines the ethical issues involved in infant circumcision, which involves the removal of healthy, nondiseased, erogeneous tissue from a nonconsenting patient. It would be unthinkable to perform this surgery on female neonates in this country, even if the parents requested it. Doctors should not have the right to remove healthy, erogenous tissue from a baby's genitals for any reason, even if parents request it for "hygenic" or "social" reasons, or so that the baby "matches" his father. What the parents request is also irrelevant. The child's body is his own, and it is the duty of ethical doctors and nurses to protect him from harm while under their care. When a child becomes a consenting adult he will be able to choose circumcision himself, should he desire it. (Religious circumcision is a separate issue with its own ethical dilemmas.)
I was circumcised shortly after birth at the hospital. My circumcision has casued me countless hours of frustration and suffering. I first became aware of the problem, at puberty, when erections became extremely painful. the skin would tear and bleed, and my penis would feel extremely unconfortable, even when not erect. When I realized that the band around my penis was actually a scar, I was shocked. Later, in my twenties, I found sex to be highly overated. I didn't understand why it was supposed to be pleasureable. During this time, I started reading extensively about circumcision, and for the first time, realized that my radical circumcision was the cause of these problems.
I approached my HMO doctor with the problem, and requested surgery to relax the tension on the penile skin. He was very sympathetic and recommended that I have surgery, but informed me that USHealthcare would probably not cover it, even though the probem was clearly iatragenic. He referred me to a very good HMO Urologist, who examined me and confirmed my worst fears: yes, my problems were casued by lack of sensitive penile skin and a "tight" or "radical" circumcision. He recommened me as a good candidate for corrective surgery. USHealthcare, in spite of these recommendations, insists the problem is cosmetic, and will not pay for it.
If you look into the circumcision issue further, you will find that my case is not unusual. To get more information, you can read "Circumcision: The Painful Dilemma" by Romberg; "Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma" (just published; can't remember author) "The Joy of Uncircumcising" by Jim Bieglow, which has been tremendously helpful to me, and "Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy" by Edward Wallerstein.
Also, I would strongly encourage MD's reading this to check out DOC - Doctors Opposing Circumcision (http://weber.u.washington.edu/d60/gcd/) , an organization formed by doctors who question the ethics of routine neonatal circumcision. They have a good web site, and publish an online journal of peer-reviewed articles relevant to the circumcision debate. Finally, check out the "Fathering" (http://www.fathermag.com/circ/) web site's page on circumcision, especially the section on "botched" circumcisions and men's reactions to having been circumcised.
One last note- today it is possible for a man who has been harmed by circumcision to sue the doctor who performed it, during a two year period from the time when he first becomes aware of the damage. There are lawyers who specialize in circumcision law.
I would urge all medical professionals who read this to think seriously about the ethics of neonatal circumcision. Circumcising a child is serious business: the results are permanent and life-long. Circumcision has taken so much pleasure out of my life. I would urge you to learn from my example and stop subjecting children to something they didn't request and don't need."- J.M., May, 1997