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News items are copied to Circumstitions News blog (which takes comments)
- thanks to Joseph4GI
"Nobody told me we didn't have to."
the Times Herald (Michigan)
Protesters decry infant circumcision
by Bob Gross
The people carrying signs Saturday in Pine Grove Park across from Port Huron Hospital were protesting cuts — but not to health care spending or state government.
Members of Intact Michigan were protesting infant circumcision.
“We believe that since girls are protected under the law from genital cutting, males also should be protected under the law from genital cutting until they’re old enough to decide,” said Kaitlyn Young, who organized the protest.
“We’re not against circumcision per se,” she said. “We’re against it being forced on infants.”
Mandi Owczarzak, of Sterling Heights, is one of the co-directors of Intact Michigan. She said the group picked Port Huron as a protest site, not because it’s a center of circumcision, but “it was a good place for all those who wanted to come.”
She has three children, two daughters and a son.
“This is important to me because nobody told me and I almost did it to my son,” she said. “Nobody told us we didn’t have to.”
Young said male infant circumcision is an American cultural tradition and usually is not done for religious reasons.
She said the group advocates religious circumcision be delayed until the male is old enough to make his own decision.
“It he wants to do it for religious decisions, it makes more sense for him to make that decision himself,” she said.
Young said the infant can suffer harm from the procedure, including death.
“A lot of people say it’s parental right or parental decision,” she said.
“It should be a son’s right whether or not he should have his foreskin.”
Young said the procedure is harmful.
“It did hurt the son, it did hurt the husband, it did hurt themselves if they are a man,” she said.
“We don’t need to perpetuate it on future generations.”
• For more information about Intact Michigan, go to www.facebook.com/IntactMI
Intact men more likely to use condoms
This study shows circumcised men are less likely to use condoms at all, more likely to use them rarely, and lack confidence in using them.
Since condoms are so much more effective than circumcision at prevening HIV acquistion and transmission (assuming the RCTs are valid) this just underlines the risk of promoting circumcision.
Nearly two out of five support a ban on infant circumcision
Forty five per cent of Britons ready to ban shechita
by Simon Rocker
Almost half the population favour a ban on religious slaughter of animals for meat and nearly a third want a ban on male circumcision, according to the results of a YouGov poll for the JC.
Asked whether they support or oppose a ban on religious slaughter, 45 per cent back a ban, 27 per cent are against and 28 per cent say they do not know.
Opinion diverges less when respondents are asked about “male circumcision for religious reasons”, with 38 per cent [More like 2/5 than 1/3] supporting a ban, 35 per cent against and 27 per cent undecided.
Dayan Yisroel Lichtenstein, head of the Federation Beth Din, said: “It’s worrying and it shows we need to do a lot more public relations to put our case.”
Forty-one per cent of 18-24 year-olds would ban both shechita and circumcision.
The German government recently passed legislation to protect religious circumcision after a mohel was arrested last year. [No, not even detained, but convicted and discharged.]
But David Graham, senior research fellow of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, cautioned against reading too much into the figures.
If people are asked are whether they support or oppose a ban on an issue, he said, “the seed of doubt is already sown in the respondent’s mind, before he or she has had a chance to consider what they are being asked. It is hardly surprising a majority opts for a ban.”
[Perhaps if the question had been,
Anti-Circumcision Protesters Cut Into Supreme Court Scene
by Benjamin R. Freed
While most of the thousands of demonstrators lined up outside the U.S. Supreme Court today were there to show their opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act, a handful of people were getting snippy about a completely different issue.
This week marks the 20th annual Demonstration Against Infant Circumcision, a yearly protest in which hundreds of "intactivists" descent upon Washington to clamor for an end to the practice of doctors removing newborn infant boys' foreskin, whether for religious purposes or because it's a standard practice in American medicine.
"Forcing children to participate in blood rituals is wrong," says Jonathan Conte, a San Francisco resident holding a large sign reading "Equal Justice" above a large, graphic photo of a newborn being circumcised. "Religion of one's parents is not a reason to abuse."
Noting that the federal government adopted legislation in 1996 banning vaginal circumcision, Conte wants to see a similar measure adopted that protects penises. While the removal of the foreskin is an ages-old custom in Judaism, Conte says that accounts for only a fraction of circumcisions performed in the United States, where it was adopted as a standard medical procedure for newborns in the mid-19th century.
"That started 150 years ago as a way to curb masturbation," he says. Conte also argues that the reasons for circumcision continuing as a customary operation keep changing, such as AIDS prevention, despite what he says is a lack of evidence. It's also a practice he says is unique to American medicine.
"Most of the world's men have their whole penises, and they're not dropping dead," he says.
To his very open frustration, Conte does not have his whole penis either. He was snipped at birth, and he says he resents his parents for electing to have the operation conducted, as well as the doctor who performed it.
"Every one of my sexual partners has had sex with a mutilated man," he says.
Conte says that a circumcised man of is missing roughly 15 square inches of protective issues around the glans, or head, of his penis, an effect he displays by rolling up a small handbill preaching the ills of foreskin removal. "It permanently alters the form and function of the penis," he says. "The glans is mucosal tissue. It's meant to be covered."
Then there are the effects on the most important functions of the penis. Conte wants to assure people he speaks with that circumcised men—like himself—are still capable of sex and procreation, though in his opinion it can be a bit dodgy.
"I'm not saying cut men can't have sex," he says. "Or that they can't feel pleasure or get erections. Sex without a foreskin is much more abrasive and dry. It's the mechanics of it."
Moreover, the circumcision opponents say the practice is one more example of the U.S. medical system's fee-for-service setup, in which doctors have a natural incentive to perform as many procedures as possible. Only, in the case of circumcision, Conte says doctors are being paid to lop a body part that "years of evolution" haven't discarded.
"Can you imagine if doctors were making money cutting off other parts of healthy baby boys?" he asks.
Conte and his fellow "intactivists" will be in town through the weekend, culminating with a march from the U.S. Capitol to the White House on Saturday. The demonstration will be "extremely diverse" he says. "We have both victims and intact people."
MOGiS un Freunde
Rabbi sued for circumcising his son
by Christian Bahls
Why I am sueing the orthodox Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal for having a circumcision performed on his son
I'd like to make one thing very clear right up front:
This lawsuit is not driven by any anti-Jewish resentments, but by the strong belief that all children bear the same inalienable rights.
With it I don't aim to attack the Jewish naming ceremony that involves amputation of the foreskin, that is an issue for an internal debate among the Jewish people.
I want to point out explicitly that I reject any ideology or action that is directed against a humane, tolerant, free and democratic value- and law-abiding society. I will refuse or quit any cooperation with persons or groups of whom I think would put a society based on democratic values, unconditional and at any time, in question.
In that spirit I also disapprove of any misuse of my efforts to further children's rights to bodily integrity by people that use the issue of circumcision to fuel their discriminating thoughts against minorities.
For now my aim is to shed some light on the circumstances of this particular circumcision. It clearly shows that some people are unwilling to abide to at least the minimum standards set forth by law, for example just obeying the rules for proper medical treatment.
In the video published on the website of the Berlin Tagesspiegel one can see how Mr. Menachem Fleischmann takes a mouthful of wine, then leans down over baby Mendel Teichtal to suck blood from his bleeding penis.
In §1631d BGB the law states that parents may only consent to a foreskin amputation if it is to be performed according to the rules of medical science, with the degree of skill and learning commonly applied under all the circumstances in the community by the average prudent reputable member of the profession.
The act of performing a Metzitzah B'peh in itself would be a violation of the demand for adherence to the rules for medical treatment to make the foreskin amputation legal according to §1631d BGB.
It is not to be assumed that the legislator intended to legalize the Metzitzah B'peh. During the hearing in the justice committee of the German Bundestag on Nov. 26th, 2012, Rabbi and urologist Dr. med. Antje Yael Deusel stated: "The most recent medical standards concerning surgical execution, including sterility and appropriate pain treatment, both during and after the operation, have to be met. A so-called Metzitzah B'peh - meaning a direct sucking of blood from the wound - is obsolete and has to be omitted unconditionally." (German protocoll from the hearing)
Another reason for me to file this lawsuit is to clarify the practice of "Periah". It can be assumed that the Mohel - when alone with the infant in an adjacent room - while do what he called "caring for the wound" - performed a radical foreskin amputation on the infant.
During a Periah, the remaining inner layer of the foreskin - which on newborns is fused to the glans, much like a fingernail to the nail bed - is scraped off all the way down to the corona glandis. (https://www.realeyz.tv/de/its-a-boy.html)
I believe it should be investigated whether the entire inner layer of the foreskin down to the corona glandis has been removed, and if, whether this can still be considered part of the naming ceremony or rather an infliction of bodily harm not covered by §1631d BGB.
In conclusion, as Mr. Teichtal - because his involvement in the german discussion 2012 - must know about the illegality of his acts. I see the way the ritual has been performed on March 3rd, 2013, as a deliberate provocation.
Also there is one thing I'm totally aware of: by far the most people of Jewish descent in Germany don't have their sons circumcised. Only a small minority has their sons circumcised, and of those only a few have it done to such an extent and following such an archaic rite like Mr. Teichtal had it done on his son on March 3rd.
March 24, 2013
AAP Circumcision Task Force fails again
by Hugh Young
In the latest Journal of Medical Ethics, a paediatrician and a lawyer have demolished the ethics of the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics circumcision policy. (pdf may require opening in a reader to show the comments.)
They say the policy suffers from several troubling deficiencies, including "...the exclusion of important topics and discussions, an incomplete and apparently partisan excursion through the medical literature, improper analysis of the available information, poorly documented and often inaccurate presentation of relevant findings, and conclusions that are not supported by the evidence given."
Accordingly, the critics say, the AAP should immediately replace its policy with one reflecting such critical concerns as the functions of the lost tissue, medical ethics and the importance of respecting non-consenting children’s rights.
A video version of this item:
This is followed by a reply by the Task Force (pdf may require opening in a reader to show the comments) that addresses none of the issues it raises, but just questions the tone of opposition to circumcision in general, asking four times that criticism to be "respectful".
This is essentially the fallacy of Appeal to Authority.
The most disrespectful word in the Svoboda-Van-Howe paper is "myopic".
This repeated demand for "respect" ignores one of the major realities of that case - that an increasing number of men are very angry that this was done to them, and they resent the lack of respect shown for the most intimate part of their bodies, for their individuality, their privacy, their religious freedom, their sexuality, their equality with women and for the security of their persons.
Nobody should be surprised when these men show disrespect toward those who stand by the ones who did that to them.
The Task Force claims to be "unbiased", unlike its critics, but it has an inherent bias to which it is blind: it treats cutting a normal, healthy, functional, non-renewing part of a baby's (and hence a man's) genitals off as if it were equal and opposite to just leaving the baby's body alone - when in fact it is is medically and ethically a different kind of activity, with a different kind of consequences.
The Task Force ends its reply "It is our fervent hope that, through the combined efforts of well-intentioned, open-minded researchers, we will achieve greater understanding so as to better serve our young patients."
The Task Force's melifluous, unctious tone belies its subject-matter, cutting parts off babies' genitals - "patients" who have nothing the matter with them. People from cultures where this is not a norm will be baffled by the disconnect between the Task Force's words and its actions.
A video version of this item:
March 21, 2013
AAP Task Force reveals cultural bias while denying it
by Hugh Young
Last August, the American Academy of Pediatrics released its new circumcision policy in a flurry of publicity. The policy claimed that "the benefits outweigh the risks" (without actually comparing them). It fell short of recommending universal infant circumcision, though it was widely reported as having done so, and it recommended that insurance pay for this "non-recommended " procedure.
The policy was instrumental in passing the unconstitutional German law allowing non-therapeutic circumcision.
This week, Pediatrics published a rebuttal from 38 heads or spokespeople for the paediatric associations of Austria, Britain, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, and senior paediatricians in Canada, the Czech Republic, France and Poland, accusing the AAP of cultural bias, and finding fault with its methodology, its conclusions, and its ethics.
Publication of the rebuttal was delayed while the AAP's Task Force on Circumcision prepared its reply. If the Bundestag had seen the rebuttal, their law might not have passed.
The Task Force's reply just underlines the same cultural bias for which it was criticised. It basically says "You're another!" without noticing that leaving a child's genitals alone, doing nothing to them, is medically and ethically a different kind of thing from cutting part off.
They reveal their bias even while denying it: they refer to the whole penis as "uncircumcised" and discount the sexual value of the foreskin found by some studies because "the relevance to individuals undergoing circumcision during infancy was questionable." but with no consideration of their relevance to individuals not undergoing circumcision during infancy.
They falsely claim that "approximately half of US males are circumcised, and half are not." In fact, a chart in their own policy indicates the rate is more like 80%. This is in order that they can say "Although that [50:50 ratio] may lead to a more tolerant view toward circumcision in the United States than in Europe, the cultural “bias” in the United States is much more likely to be a neutral one than that found in Europe, where there is a clear bias against circumcision."
In fact, in Europe, the default position is to do nothing, simply to leave the child's body alone. No need for any "cultural bias" or any Task Forces on Leaving Children's Genitals Alone.
They go on "... a culture that is comfortable with both the circumcised penis and the uncircumcised penis would seem predisposed to a more dispassionate analysis of the scientific literature than a culture with a bias that is either strongly opposed to circumcision or strongly in favor of it."
In what mad world is the United States "a culture that is comfortable with" the whole penis when the Task Force won't even call it that? When TV shows can include nine or more negative references to foreskins and the men with them without exciting comment? (Positive references are virtually unknown.) To rebut the claim of the 38 that the foreskin has a sexual function, the Task Force says:
The 38 European critics do not need to "speculate": its male members or their male partners will have foreskins. Of course the inner foreskin resembles a mucus membrane, because it is one - like the lips. The lips also "have nerve fibres". Whose first thought about those would be about how to minimise the pain of lip-removal? Who either doubts, or can find a study to prove, that the nerves of the lips are intimately involved in the pleasure of kissing? Who needs one?
The Task Force, both in its policy and this response to its critics, criticises the only study that actually attempted to measure the sensitivity of the foreskin itself by ignoring its main finding - that "male circumcision [removes] the most sensitive part of the penis."
They now admit that the critics' "argument about the basic right to physical integrity is an important one, ..." yet they ignored this important argument in their 2012 policy, and now they contrast it with a new, unmeasured and undocumented claim that "...it is also true that some males will be harmed by not being circumcised." By that reasoning, the man who had to cut his own arm off after it was trapped under a boulder in the desert was "harmed by not having had it previously amputated" but nobody would ever think that meant infant amputation should be given even a moment's consideration - yet this is just "to prevent zipper injury" writ large.
The Task Force says nothing about the critics' case, based on the AAP's own policy, that the diseases circumcision reduces are so rare, or of such late onset, or so readily prevented or treated, that circumcising infants to prevent them is a bad option compared to letting the child grow up to decide the fate of his own genitals.
Its claim that "the benefits outweigh the risks" is now nowhere to be seen, and goes undefended.
A video version of this story is on YouTube
The following article is due to appear in the next issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It is signed by the heads or spokespeople for the paediatric associations of Austria, Britain, Denmark, England, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands, and by senior paediatricians in Canada, the Czech Republic, France and Poland.
It comprehensively dismantles the AAP's 2012 circumcision policy statement.
the Journal of Medical Ethics
Lawyer and pediatrician dismantle the AAP policy
An article in the Journal of Medical Ethics comprehensively takes down the American Academy of Pediatrics' 2012 circumcision policy.
Written by Michigan State University Clinical Professor Robert Van Howe and Berkeley lawyer J Steven Svoboda, it focuses on the ethical issues rather than the medical issues that concern the European pediatricians whose rebuttal is released today.
“The AAP ignores so many important topics that it is hard to know where to begin," Svoboda says. "For example, the anatomy and function of the foreskin are not mentioned. The AAP’s circumcision recommendations contradict its own bioethics policy statement, which requires pediatric care to be based only on the needs of the patient. Non-therapeutic circumcision is incompatible with widely accepted ground rules for surgical intervention in minors.”
“When physicians decide whether to do a procedure, they must, and normally do, exclude from their medical decisions non-medical factors regarding the parents’ culture. Contrary to what the AAP suggests, doctors are not cultural brokers. Their duty is promoting and protecting the health of their patients, not following practices lacking a solid ethical and medical foundation.”
Van Howe and Svoboda accuse the AAP of cherry-picking articles that support circumcision, and of taking passages out of context from within articles that do not support it.
They conclude that male circumcision should be neither recommended to parents nor funded by government insurance systems.
A few months ago, the Royal Dutch Medical Association favorably cited an earlier version of Svoboda’s and Van Howe’s article, noting that even if benefits do exist, the procedure can safely be delayed until the boy himself can make the decision.
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
More than $80,000,000 paid out for botched circumcisions
by Hugh Young
More than 80 million dollars have been paid out in settlements for botched and wrongful circumcisions since 1985, according to Attorneys for the Rights of the Child.
It has been compiling a list of cases since 1997 and first published it today.
They range from $22.8 million to a boy in Atlanta, Georgia who was severely burnt, down to $30,000 to a Palm Beach, California, boy who lost more than his foreskin to a mohel.
Two of the cases, totalling $18.3 million, were won against Mogen Circumcision Instruments Ltd, makers of the Mogen clamp. The company has gone out of business, but the Mogen clamp is still being used.
The number of botched circumcision cases that were settled out of court is unknown. The number that were successfully blamed on something else, such as an undiagnosed pre-condition or poor aftercare, is also, of course, unknown.
In its 2012 circumcision policy, the American Academy of Pediatrics said, "The majority of severe or even catastrophic injuries are so infrequent as to be reported as case reports (and were therefore excluded from this literature review)" before concluding (without actually weighing them) that "the benefits outweigh the risks".
Hospital denies circumcision caused death
by Hugh Young
UC Davis Children's Hospital has posted on its Facebook page:
The baby was circumcised at Lodi, two days before he died. The coronor's report into his death has not yet been released. The hospital is pre-empting the court in determining the cause of death.
Pediatricians should revisit their circumcision policy
by Christopher L. Guest Co-Founder, Children's Health and Human Rights Partnership
Most physicians are sadly ignorant of the sexual and mechanical function of the human prepuce.
The prepuce is richly innervated, erogenous tissue, containing thousands of sensory neuroreceptors such as Meissner's corpuscles. Many of the most sensitive regions of the penis are located along the inner prepuce and are needlessly amputated by circumcision.
The prepuce also acts as a linear bearing mechanism, providing a unique gliding motion during sexual intercourse.
Removing healthy, functional genital tissue from powerless infants is medically unethical and Canadian physicians should refuse to participate in this disgraceful practice. Parental preferences and cultural traditions should never trump contemporary medical ethics and the fundamental human right to bodily integrity.
When will the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) recognize that the boy is the patient, not the parents? Let him decide for himself, when he is older, and able to consent.
Tunisian representatives rejects pro-circumcision remarks
A secular-leaning member of Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly demanded that a representative of the ruling Islamist Ennahda movement apologize or resign for remarks he had made in support of female circumcision.
“It is unreasonable that a representative values a crime like this committed against women in several states,” Nadia Shaaban, from the Modernist Democratic Pole, said during an assembly session on Monday, commenting on remarks made by Habib Louz.
Louz, a hawkish figure in Ennahda, had told Al Maghreb newspaper on Sunday that female circumcision is an act of “beautification of women, and does not affect her (sexual) appetite.” Louz added that circumcision is “non-mandatory,” citing religious edicts by Egyptian preacher Wagdy Ghoneim.
In areas of high temperature, people practice female circumcision for sanitary and medical reasons, Louz also claimed.
Shaaban described the remarks, aired live by state television, represent an insult to Tunisian women and a coup against the Tunisian revolution. “Instead of pushing society forward, Louz wants to push us backwards,” she said.
Alarabiya - AFP
Tunisian MP stirs row after female circumcision remarks
Lawmakers from Tunisia's secular opposition Monday denounced remarks attributed to an MP from the Islamist Ennahda party that female circumcisions in Africa are carried out for “aesthetic' reasons.
“It is unacceptable that a member promotes crimes against women,” lawmaker Nadia Shaaban said in the National Constituent Assembly, referring to remarks purportedly made by Habib Ellouze, an MP from the ruling Ennahda.
“In the (African) regions where it is hot, people are forced to circumcise girls ... because in these regions clitorises are too big which affects the spouses,” Ellouze was quoted in an interview published in the Sunday edition of Maghreb newspaper as saying.
“There are more circumcisions but it is not true that circumcision removes the pleasure for women. It is the West that has exaggerated the issue. Circumcision is an aesthetic surgery for women,” he was quoted as saying.
Ellouze on Monday accused the newspaper of distorting his quotes, saying the journalist “attributed remarks to me that I have not said.”
“She insisted that I respond to the question and I told her that it is a tradition in other countries,” Ellouze said in the assembly.
Secular Medical Forum
Secular Medical Forum challenges Ed Miliband's support for religious circumcision
The Secular Medical Forum has condemned Ed Miliband's recent support for the ritual genital cutting of children and called on the labour leader to rethink his stance on the issue.
On 7 March Ed Miliband told an audience in London that he supports the practices of brit milah – a Jewish religious male circumcision ceremony performed on 8-day-old male infants. In reference to ritual circumcision and kosher animal slaughter, the leader of the Labour party said: "These are important traditions … ways of life must be preserved".
The removal of a young boy's foreskin is commonly practised in the UK for religious reasons. The Secular Medical Forum (SMF) argues that the operation disregards autonomy and exposes the child to significant risks, including bleeding, infection and death. In a statement, the SMF said it questioned Mr Miliband's support for the "ethically flawed and medically dangerous" procedure.
Anthony Lempert, Chair of the Secular Medical Forum, said; "The first principle of healthcare is 'primum non nocere – first do no harm'. This guidance is disregarded by supporters of ritual circumcision.
"The Secular Medical Forum calls on Mr Miliband to focus squarely on the rights of vulnerable infants and children. Mr Miliband should prioritise the rights of children rather than harmful religious traditions. Mr Miliband should defend the weak, rather than preserve abusive traditions. He should not be misled by misplaced allegations of anti-semitism against those striving to protect children from harm."
In 2012, a German court caused international controversy when it found that parental consent to religious circumcision was in conflict with the best interests of the child, and ruled that parents do not have the right to circumcise their children without a medical reason. Following the court ruling, the government of Angela Merkel introduced legislation permitting the tradition.
A full statement from the Secular Medical Form can be found here.
March 8, 2013
Another circumcision death
An 11-day-old boy has died died at UC Davis Children's Hospital in Sacramento, California, two days after being circumcised in the nearby town of Lodi.
According to his grandfather, Brayden Tyler Frazier had been taken to the doctor when he was a week old because he had been sleeping constantly and not eating. His parents had also noticed that his neonatal sticks and pricks had not healed quickly, and had to stay bandaged for two days or more.
The doctor in Lodi sent them home with instructions to monitor his condition and after two days, he was circumcised. It was later discovered that the wound had continued to bleed. He was taken back to the doctor, then to Urgent Care, then to the ER, and then transferred to UC Davis Medical.
He had "generalized bleeding" and an unidentified infection.
Over the two days after his circumcision, he went into seizures and a coma, and died.
A paediatric haematologist/oncologist comments:
Child's Rights International Network
International NGO Council raises human rights questions
The International NGO Council on Violence against Children published a report on harmful traditional practices in October 2012. On male circumcision, it says:
Male circumcision has been largely neglected in mainstream debates on harmful practices because of its strong religious connections, particularly with Judaism and Islam, and its general acceptance in many societies. ...
Until recently, male circumcision has generally been challenged only when carried out by non-medical personal in unhygienic settings without pain relief. But a children’s rights analysis suggests that non-consensual, non-therapeutic circumcision of boys, whatever the circumstances, constitutes a gross violation of their rights, including the right to physical integrity, to freedom of thought and religion and to protection from physical and mental violence. When extreme complications arise, it may violate the right to life. It is reported that male circumcision can result in numerous physical, psychological, and sexual health problems during the surgery, afterwards, and throughout adulthood, including haemorrhage, panic attacks, erectile dysfunction, infection (in severe forms leading to partial or complete loss of the penis), urinary infections, necrosis, permanent injury or loss of the glans, excessive penile skin loss, external deformity, and in some cases even death.
There are now substantial established campaigns against non-therapeutic, non-consensual circumcision of boys and growing support to end it, particularly within the medical community. For example, the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) has publicly taken a children’s rights position that: “children must not be subjected to medical proceedings that have no therapeutic or preventative value.” In addition, in 2011 the then Ombudsman for Children in Norway advocated that boys should not be circumcised for non-therapeutic reasons until they are old enough to give their informed consent and that parents should not be able to consent on behalf of their children. Most recently, in 2012 a German court ruled that male circumcision constitutes a violation of physical integrity as a child is “permanently and irreparably changed by the circumcision” and that the practice is also in conflict with the child’s [and the future adult's] right to religious freedom.
The WHO review quoted three randomized controlled trials suggesting that circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring HIV infection in males. But this potential health benefit does not over-ride a child’s [and hence a man's] right to give [or withhold] informed consent to the practice. The decision to undertake circumcision for these reasons can be deferred to a time where the risk is relevant and the child is old enough to choose and consent for himself.
- International NGO Council on Violence against Children. (Oct 2012).
Canadian Medical Association Bulletin
ETHICS CORNER: CIRCUMCISION
by Dr. Jeff Blackmer, Director of Ethics, CMA
What advice should a physician give to parents considering whether or not to have their baby circumcised?
For some parents, the decision is easy because of religious tenets or family tradition. For others, it involves a struggle to balance competing evidence. In Canada this evidence is evaluated and the medical standard is set by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS), which since 1996 has held that “circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.”
However, in August the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated its 1999 policy on circumcision and cited evidence showing that the procedure offers some potential benefits, including lower risk of urinary tract infection (UTI), penile cancer and sexually transmitted disease (STD) infection.
There are, of course, provisos. For instance, most UTIs occur in the first year of life and can be avoided with proper hygiene, and the lower STD rates appear applicable only to certain populations, such as gay men. As well, most of the studies that were consulted by the AAP did not involve North American men. So what should doctors do when parents seek their advice? I would point out that the AAP guidelines do not advocate circumcision as standard practice and state that the final decision should be left up to the parents, as is currently the case. The CPS is currently reviewing the evidence and expects to release an updated statement of its own. Until then, its current advice stands.
So, despite all the recent publicity related to the AAP, not much has changed. Some parents will always choose circumcision, some will always reject it, and some will decide based solely on the evidence. The role of physicians in this decision-making process is simply to remain up to date on the evidence and do all they can to help parents make an informed decision.
DNAinfo.com (New York)
Queens Infant Disfigured in Botched Bris, Lawsuit Charges
by James Fanelli
FOREST HILLS — A Queens rabbi botched the bris of an 8-day-old boy, then told the dad that he did an acceptable job, even though the infant needed corrective surgery, a new lawsuit charges.
Gavriel Barukh, the father of the boy, is suing Rabbi Mordechai Rachminov, claiming he sliced off part of his son's corona glandis during the religious ceremony on Oct. 16, 2011, at the Bukharian Jewish Community Center in Forest Hills, according to the lawsuit filed last week in Queens Civil Supreme Court.
After the ritual, Rachminov, 69, misled Barukh by claiming the circumcision was "performed appropriately and that his conduct was within the standard of care and skill required of Jewish mohelim and circumcisers," the lawsuit says.
He also allegedly told Barukh that a physician wasn't necessary. Even after it became apparent that the bris went awry, Rachminov and the community center failed to call a doctor, the suit says.
Barukh claims that the delay in medical treatment resulted in greater permanent damage to his son. The boy had to undergo corrective surgery with general anesthesia and may need even more procedures, the lawsuit says.
A woman who answered the phone at Rachminov's home said the allegations weren't true.
"I didn't hear any of this," she said.
The Bukharian Jewish Community Center was also named in the lawsuit. A woman who answered the phone at the center said Rachminov no longer works there. She declined to comment about the lawsuit.
Barukh's lawyer did not return a call for comment.
The practice of performing a bris became a hotly debated topic in September after an infant died from contracting herpes ...
Broward Palm Beach New Times
President Clinton's Event Disrupted by Anti-Circumcision Activists
by Deirdra Funcheon
Surely, President Clinton was a little freaked out last night when in the middle of his event -- a Clinton Foundation Millennium Network talk in New York featuring the former president, Chelsea Clinton, and actor Ed Norton -- a whistle blew and a group of men stood up, held hands, and chanted, "Stop exploiting Africans; circumcision does not stop AIDS!"
The protesters were self-described "intactivists" -- those who believe that circumcision is actually a mutilation of the genitals.
Although circumcision is routinely performed on infants in the United States, it is not in other developed countries. Germans even moved to outlaw the practice last year (though Jews stopped the law on religious grounds), and it is banned in some Australian hospitals. Circumcision became widely popular as a means to prevent males from masturbating. Today's medical establishment generally supports circumcision, arguing that it has preventive effects for penile cancer and other diseases, though some studies say it leads to erectile dysfunction and other problems.
Last night's protest was led by a group called Intaction and promoted by "The Barefoot Intactivist" -- a University of Florida graduate who gives his name as Kevin and who runs barefoot to promote awareness of the anti-circumcision cause.
Protesters targeted Clinton because he has been a huge supporter of programs that seek to circumcise hundreds of thousands of African men in an attempt to slow the spread of AIDS.
Protesters say this is misguided -- that the research is flawed -- and that Africans are being used as pawns in science experiments.
Anthony Losquadro, executive director of Intaction, said that he and seven other activists had been planning the protest for a month. They each bought $100 tickets to the event, and had actually intended to put on white suits with bloodstains on the crotches before standing up, but the rows were packed too closely together to maneuver without sending the audience into a panic.
Losquadro said it was about midway through the program, when Norton was interviewing the Clintons about their foundation's initiatives, that his group interrupted. Clinton coolly said, "OK, you guys had your chance to speak, now its my turn" and "attempted engage us in a little bit of a dialogue. He mentioned the three studies in African countries that show circumcision results in a 60 percent reduction in the transmission of AIDS."
These three studies are the basis upon which millions of dollars are funneled into circumcision campaigns, though anti-circumcision activists say they research is flawed. "But it's kind of difficult to do a dialogue [about such a complicated subject] in the middle of the event," Losquadro said, "so we changed out chant to 'Condoms, no cutting' because we believe that condoms, education, and antiretrovirals are much more effective [in stopping the transmission of AIDS/HIV]. Then Chelsea Clinton interjected and said, 'The two are not mutually exclusive,' and we were escorted out of the building and the Secret Service questioned us."
Losquadro says he became an activist because "I see circumcision as the wrong thing to do to babies because they can't consent," he said. "It's just a matter of right and wrong, and we believe we're on the right side of this issue."
A statement by Intaction called African circumcision campaigns "exploitative and racist health policies," explaining:
The U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Clinton Foundation, and the Gates Foundation jumped on the circumcision bandwagon to demonstrate their effectiveness to their stakeholders and their donors. However, these organizations were either misguided or blinded by their quest to increase goodwill and donations by hyping circumcision. Male circumcision is a dangerous mistake in the fight against HIV, and it endangers both men and women. Recent studies examining circumcision rates and HIV prevalence found that circumcision did not significantly the reduce rate of infection in Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and America.
See the full statement by Intaction here.
Canada's pediatricians set to reveal new policy on circumcision
The Canadian Paediatric Society is preparing to revise its position on circumcision.
Canada’s pediatricians are about to update their advice on whether baby boys should be circumcised, revising their stand for the first time in 17 years.
Their review comes as new Canadian research suggests half of expectant parents would consider circumcision if they had a son — and that the single most important factor is the circumcision “status” of the father.
The Canadian Paediatric Society’s old policy, issued in 1996, opposed routine circumcision of newborns.
The new statement is expected to be more neutral.
“There isn’t going to be a ‘prescription’ for Canadian males in terms of circumcision,” society president Dr. Richard Stanwick, chief medical health officer for the Vancouver Island Health Authority, told Postmedia News.
The organization has been struggling to put forward a balanced position “that captures the risks, and the benefits, but is also respectful of personal preferences [whose?], religious issues and many other things that dictate this decision,” Stanwick said.
The issue is so loaded with emotion and controversy that the new statement has been three years in the making. “There are very strong opinions on both sides of this issue,” Stanwick said.
“We know that we’re wading into something that, no matter what we write, will not be strong enough for probably either side.”
Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, a move that provoked demonstrations by anti-circumcision activists who view the procedure as genital mutilation of newborns. [No, who view it as unethical.]
The old policy deemed circumcision medically unnecessary for the “well-being of the child.”
But after a special task force reviewed more than 1,000 studies published over the past 15 years, the American doctors’ group now says that circumcision provides protection against urinary tract infections, penile cancer and the transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
The organization isn’t recommending universal circumcision. Instead, it says the final decision should be left to parents.
Circumcision involves the surgical remove of some, or all, of the foreskin from the penis. It is one of the most common surgical procedures performed worldwide. In hospitals, the procedure is usually performed by obstetricians soon after birth.
“Clearly there has been a lot of literature around the potential role of the avoidance of infection,” Stanwick said.
“But this also has to be balanced off against the fact that this is still a surgical procedure, and it is not without risk.”
Those risks can include bleeding and hemorrhage, infection, inflammation and tightening at the end of the penis [and major complications, loss of the penis and death.]
Any shift in policy would have to ensure, “are there enough skilled professionals around to do this, so that we don’t have a complication rate that is unacceptable and so that we’re not seeing males being significantly harmed by not having the properly trained people to do it,” Stanwick said. [Not any shift, only a shift towards recommending it. Sounds like he's gearing up for a major increase, and needing to recruit!]
The new policy statement is expected to be released before the pediatric group’s annual meeting in June.
“It would be great if we had absolute answers, but on this one, I don’t think we will,” Stanwick said.
“At the end of the day . . . it will very much be influenced by dad’s status, as well as the cultural and religious issues.” [What other surgical procedures are influenced by the father's status, cultural or religious issues?]
A new study found that the circumcision rates are heavily influenced by whether or not the father is circumcised.
University of Saskatchewan researchers, in a study published in the journal Canadian Family Physician, surveyed 230 parents attending prenatal classes in Saskatoon.
Overall, half — 56 per cent — said they would consider pursuing circumcision if they had a son. In cases where the father of the expected baby was circumcised, 82 per cent were in favour of circumcision, versus 15 per cent when the father wasn’t circumcised.
According to the researchers, Canada’s current circumcision rate is 32 per cent. In the U.S., rates are increasing, to 61 per cent of men, they said. [No, it is slowly falling,and 61% is approximately the rate at which babies are being circumcised.]
Harare circumcised men forced to pay US$30 extra
UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended circumcision as an important new element of HIV Prevention.
As such, local health authorities have since embarked on a massive campaign encouraging men to get circumcised. The campaign has seen prominent musicians like Winky D and high profile politicians such as Mines Minister Orbert Mpofu being circumcised too.
Scientific trials have shown that male circumcision can reduce a man's risk of becoming infected with HIV during sexual intercourse by up to 60% hence the call for this campaign dubbed 'Pinda MuSmart'.
[Yet more circumcised Zimbabwean men have HIV than non-circumcised - just as they did before the circumcision campaign began:
Click to enlarge]
However, despite the health and hygienic advantages of circumcision, it has since been established that circumcision also BOOSTS revenue for a large quota of prostitutes. In a random survey conducted by this publication, siphoning information from sex workers, circumcised men pay more for sex. Revelations made by hookers operating around the Avenues, Harare's unrivalled red light district, show that prices for sex vary depending on the potential client's "circumcision status".
Their argument was that since the process of circumcision involved the removal of foreskin which contains sensory nerve receptors, that diminishes the man's sensitivity thereby increasing the period of sex sessions. An increase in time in the sex session, they argued, meant a loss of other potential clients in that period because they thrive on 'pushing volumes'.
"You see the problem with circumcised clients is they take too long to complete a single round. I might risk losing revenue from other clients and waste time on one guy for the same price, so we therefore push our charges upwards if one is circumcised," said a self proclaimed prostitute. [So it hardly "BOOSTS" their revenue, just brings it back up to par.]
Several other sex workers corroborated with her stating that there is a slight increase of US$20 to about US$30 if their client is circumcised. [So that's only $10 more.]
[Clearly the prostitutes don't believe circumcision protects them from HIV. Much more important is whether they accept sex without condoms.]
To earlier news (headlines)
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