While I do agree that parents have the right to decide what is best for their children (normally), I also believe in a child's right to integrity. No child (IMO) should be forced to have a cosmetic surgery. That is my stance, and if you disagree that's fine. But I won't keep comments that flame me for it.
Circumcision: A Mutilation
Robin L. Carpenter
Robin L. Carpenter
January 4, 2005
Childbirth: Usually this word gives us an image of a joyous time in a family’s lifetime. Rarely though do they think about the atrocities parents allow doctors to perform on their boy’s only 24 hours after their birth. Parents today willingly allow doctors to mutilate their boys without realizing the physical and psychological implications of circumcision. As a result, approximately .20% of newborn circumcisions have complications after the surgery. (Razmus, 2004)
During the surgery the infant may or may not receive an anesthetic. Often circumstances such as the infant’s health and doctors preference are the deciding factors for whether the infant receives pain medication. Even if an anesthetic is used the child will feel some discomfort. According to Aldric Hama a lab test performed on animals gives us some insight into circumcision and pain relief. The test showed that even with pain medications animals were still hypersensitive to pain. (Hama, 2004) This finding suggests that infants that do receive pain medication can still feel the pain and will be hypersensitive to pain in their adult life.
Despite the obvious physical pain, circumcision can leave your child physically damaged as a result of the surgical procedure in his adolescent and adult life. Often the damage is not noticed until young teens or into adulthood. The reason why most botched circumcisions go unnoticed is because young men do not understand how an intact penis looks or are unaware of the damage circumcision causes. By this time the damage inflicted is not included in statistics. Botched circumcisions can include skin discoloration, a chapped penis, missing frenulum, loss in size, and skin bridges. (NOHARMM, 2004)
A chapped penis is often very painful. Sexual intercourse with a chapped penis can cause bleeding and will often crack from the shaft being too dry. This can lead to a higher risk of STD’s because of open sores, even though Trevor Lane says, “Circumcised men have a lower risk of HIV infection than do uncircumcised men.” (Lane, 2004) Mr. Lane did not take into account the dryness circumcision causes and when cracks in the skin arise.
A frenulum, as defined in the Webster’s online dictionary, is “a small fold of tissue that prevents an organ in the body from moving too far.” (Webster dictionary. 1988) The frenulum is much like a “g-spot” for men. Sometimes a botched circumcision cuts the frenulum away, leaving no “g-spot” for the man. This can potentially be devastating to men’s sex drive.
Skin bridges are skin that is connected from the glands to the shaft of the penis. The bridges look like craters in the penis connecting from the tip to the shaft. Some are flat against the penis, while others are not. When the penis is erect they can tighten and even break away from the shaft. As you can imagine, the craters create a problem with hygiene. Dirt and debris can get down into the craters and cause an infection if not properly cleaned. One of the biggest reasons parents chose to have their boys circumcised is the belief that a circumcised penis is easier to take care of. Dr. Paul Fleiss explains, "The natural penis requires no special care. A child's foreskin, like his eyelids, is self-cleansing. Forcibly retracting a baby's foreskin can lead to irritation and
Infection. The best way to care for a child's intact penis is to leave it alone." (Fleiss, P., 1997) If the penis has not been circumcised correctly and skin bridges or craters form they can potentially be harder to clean, making it easier for the man to develop an infection and more susceptible to STD‘s from open sores.
Circumcision robs men inches from their penis. According to Dr. Paul Fliess
“Depending on the foreskin's length, cutting it off makes the penis as much as 25 percent or more shorter.” (Fliess, P., 1997) Many men are sensitive about their size. Circumcising your child could lead to your young man being ashamed of the size of his penis.
Skin discoloration itself is not detrimental to men’s health, however it does have a psychological impact on men. Skin discoloration can cause men to have low self-esteem or be ashamed of their genitals because they look different.
Psychological issues arise immediately after the surgery and last throughout adult life. However, most mental issues are never connected to circumcision. Immediately following the surgery the infant is less likely to bond with his parents. He is often slower to accept food and is more sensitive to shots or other pain. (Hama, 2004) During adult life Aldric Hama explains, “ Seeking medical attention may be, in part, due to circumcision-induced hypersensitivity.” Meaning that circumcised men are quicker to seek medical attention. (Hama. 2004, p 40)
Even with the evidence showing that circumcision can be detrimental to men’s health, it is still a common practice. The reasons why parents opt for the surgery range from religious beliefs, hygiene, family tradition, and ignorance. Often families think that circumcision is a routine procedure that is always done, despite the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) statement saying, “Benefits are not significant enough for the AAP to recommend circumcision as a routine procedure.” (AAP, 1999)
Circumcision is believed to come with some benefits. Among the medical world it is believed that circumcision can be used as a preventative measure for Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s), a decreased risk of penile cancer, easier to maintain good hygiene, and the treatment of balanitis, phimosis, and paraphimosis. (WebMd Health. 1995-2004) The only benefit circumcision provides at infancy is a less chance of developing UTI’s. All other benefits come at a later age. It is believed that circumcision can reduce the risk of penile cancer. However the American Cancer Society released a statement in 1998 stating that,
“Penile cancer is extremely rare in the United States and accounts for less than one half a percent of cancers diagnosed among men and less than one tenth of a percent of cancer deaths among men. Circumcision is not of value in preventing cancer of the penis.” (ACS.1998)
If penile cancer is so rare and the AAP thinks that circumcision is not a preventive measure, then why would we bother to worry about such a rare disease?
There are people who consider circumcision as child abuse and against human rights. Dr. Paul Fliess states, “The concept of informed parental permission allows for medical interventions in situations of clear and immediate medical necessity only, such as disease, trauma, or deformity. The human penis in its normal, uncircumcised state satisfies none of these requirements.” (Fliess, 1997) To date lawsuits have been successful only when it is deemed that the doctor has performed a botched circumcision. (CIRP. 2004) So why are circumcisions legal? William Brigman answers this question by stating, “The United States Supreme Court has upheld the fundamental rights of family integrity and recognized that there exists a private realm of family life beyond state control.” (Brigman, 1985) No one wishes to go against a family’s right to make decisions for their children.
The bottom line is that medical society wants you to think that circumcision is best. My belief is that they want you to alter your child because it is an out of pocket expense. By reviewing the material I have here it shows that there are many con reasons, and little pro’s for this major alteration to be performed on un-consenting children. It is time that we stand up to our doctors and let them know that it’s not OK to mutilate our boys by saying no to circumcision. They came into this world with foreskin, and they
should go out of this world with foreskin unless it is by their choosing that it be removed.
Hama, Aldric (Fall 2004). Long-Term Behavioral Effects of Injury at Infancy: The case against Circumcision. [Electronic version]. Mankind Quarterly. Vol. 45 Issue 1, p35, 11p
NOHARMM. (November 23, 2004). December 4, 2004. How to Identify Circumcision damage in the adult male. http://www.noharmm.org/IDcirc.htm
Lane, T. (June 2004). Circumcision Lowers risk of HIV, not other STI’s. International Family Planning Perspectives, v30, i2, p56 (1).
Webster's NewWorld Dictionary. (January 1, 1988) [electric version] December 19, 2004
Razmus, I., Dalton, Madelyn. Wilson, D. (2004) Pain Management for Newborn Circumcision. Pediatric Nursing, v30, i5.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (March 1, 1999). New AAP Circumcision Policy Released. December 19, 2004 http://www.aap.org/advocacy/archives/marcircum.htm
WebMd Health. (1995-2004), Circumcision Topic Overview. December 19, 2004.
American Cancer Society. (1998) Misleading Information Dispelling Miscommunications. December 19, 2004 http://www.cancer.org/docroot/NWS/content/NWS_1_1x_Misleading_Informatio n.asp
Paul M. Fleiss, M.D. (1997) The Case Against Circumcision. Mothering, p. 36-45, December 19, 2004 http://www.noharmm.org/mothering.htm
CIRP (May 2004) Circumcision. Legal Issues. December 19, 2004 http://www.cirp.org/library/legal/
William E. Brigman. (1985). Circumcision as Child Abuse: The Legal and Constitutional Issues, 23 J Fam Law 337.
NOTE: It seems some of my research links are no longer valid. I've kept them as they were originally written.