Today’s radio show will focus on information about circumcision that parents need to know- information that hopefully will help parents keep their newborn sons intact. The more I read, the more I hurt for baby boys (and girls) who are circumcised; and the more I hurt for parents who made the decision based on misinformation, cultural bias or blind trust in their doctor. Parents simply don’t choose to permanently injure their children without the belief that it will somehow help.
Here’s some info to get you started:
Although at one time it was only a religious rite, in the early 1900’s circumcision was promoted to eliminate or cure many diseases including hernia, nocturnal incontinence, prolapse of the rectum, syphilis, cancer, epilepsy, chorea, hysteria, and masturbation. These are the main “conditions” that moved circumcision into the medical realm. In our modern era, circumcision is not recommended by any medical or health association, although myths still circulate widely, many suggesting circumcision reduces risks for penile cancer, HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer in women, and urinary tract infection.
The most important fact to understand relating to these myths (once you get over the absurdity of some) is that not one of these conditions is caused by the foreskin or cured by circumcision. And for women- the fact that nuns have a similar rate of cervical cancer as sexually active women should be enough to conclude circumcision is irrelevant to that health concern.
With no medical reason to circumcise, most parents still need to be educated about reasons to leave children INTACT. Because currently parents in the US are from a generation of very high rates of infant circumcision, so many husbands/fathers and wives/mothers don’t know what the foreskin is for. Ignorance of what is missing, and the desire to see our bodies as ok and acceptable and same, is part of what propels tradition. To counter tradition and cultural bias, we need to learn the reasons to oppose tradition.
- The Foreskin is not a birth defect. It has a purpose and is necessary for normal sexual function and sensitivity. It protects the glans and maintains proper pH balance, moisture and cleanliness. The foreskin contains glands which produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins to defend against infections. In many ways, it works like the eyelids do to protect our eyes.
- Protect your child from needless pain. Even when anesthesia is used (which is not 100% of the time), babies feel an extraordinary amount of pain. Watch this video of a circumcision to understand how babies suffer.
- Children have the right to bodily integrity and can’t give informed consent. Parents don’t have the right to consent to surgical removal of healthy tissue for no medical reason. Men and women deserve to remain whole unless they choose to alter their own bodies. Legislation was passed banning Female Circumcision in the US in 1997, but similar protection for boys has not yet been passed.
- Long-term consequences, psychological and physical, have been identified including sexual dysfunction and impotence.
Parents and doctors can work together to eliminate this unnecessary surgery. Consider this: do you really want a doctor caring for you or your child who would needlessly (and for profit) remove any healthy organ from your baby- a kidney, for example- just because s/he can live without it? Should we remove the appendix at birth? Why not?
If doctors put the welfare of your baby first, they would find no practical or logical reason to remove the foreskin. So then, why do doctors perform this unnecessary surgery on babies?
A great resource for parents to understand current information applied to your specific questions is available at CircumcisionDecisionMaker.com. A list of resources is available HERE. You can also learn more by watching this video of Dr Dean Edell.
Your comments and stories are always welcome.