Monday, August 27, 2012

Top Five refutations for AAP "evidence" for benefits of circumcision


Why do these people want to cut baby penises so desperately?  What is wrong with them?  Their devotion to cutting child sex organs is simply fanatical.

The "evidence" the AAP has put forward in support of circumcision is so poorly supported they might as well have built a house of cards on a Florida beach in hurricane season.  Just to prove that yours truly will now, despite my utter lack of medical training, refute some of the reasons the AAP has given for circumcision.  I know it seems crazy but you don't need years of med school to figure this out.  It just requires a little empathy, some ethics, and the ability to think for yourself.

1)  "Circumcision helps prevent HIV/AIDS"
I placed this at number one because physicians developed this idea in the hopes it would really grab people.  HIV is not as scary of a subject as it was in the '80s and early '90s, but the idea that it can be prevented still gets people's attention.  The problem is the studies they are basing this claim on are flawed.  Don't even worry about the numerous articles in academic journals refuting the HIV/circumcision studies done in Africa, JUST USE YOUR BRAIN.  The United States has six times the HIV rate of Sweden and 3 times the HIV rate of the Netherlands yet a far higher circumcision rate than either of those predominantly intact countries.  Comparisons with other industrialized European nations yield the same outcome.  What happened there?  If circumcision really helped prevent HIV than Europe with all of its intact penises should have a higher infection rate than the thoroughly circumcised US shouldn't it? 
The truth is circumcision does NOT help prevent HIV.  Just ask all the circumcised men in the US that are infected with HIV.  If you want to prevent HIV transmission wear a condom.

2)  "Circumcision helps prevent the spread of HPV"
Since when do we as a society perform surgery on infants without their consent for the sake of public health initiatives?  If it was discovered that the female labia helped promote the spread of HPV would the AAP promote the removal of the labia at birth?  Oh heavens no that would be genital mutilation.  How is removing part of a baby boy's penis any different? 

3)  "Intact penises are driving up health care costs"
Hmmm.  This got me thinking: how much does our country spend on breast cancer?  I'm judging a lot just based on all the walks and ribbons that are out there.  I'll bet if we removed breasts at birth that would save billions in health care costs.  What, no one thinks that's a good idea?  How about we remove everyone's appendix after birth so they don't have to worry about paying for emergency appendectomies in the future?

4)  "Circumcision prevents UTIs"
Seriously?!?!?! This is the reason Susan Blank leads with on her interview that was aired on NPR this morning?  You're telling me the hope of preventing a minor infection is reason enough to perform surgery on a baby without his consent and remove part of his body that he needs for healthy sexual functioning?  Are these people crazy?  If they found out removing one of the male's testicles would forever cure the common cold, would you sign your baby up?  Would you sign yourself up?  How about your earlobe?  What parts of your body are you willing to have cut off for some supposed medical benefit?  It's a tough call isn't it?  It's better to let your son make his own decisions about which parts of his body he wants to remove.

5)  "Circumcision prevents penile cancer"
Hmmm.  I've heard mastectomies prevent the return of breast cancer but we don't do those at birth do we?  I'll bet removing a boy's testicles at birth would prevent testicular cancer.  What, you say he needs his testicles for healthy sexual functioning?  News flash: he needs his foreskin for that too!  Circumcision is the removal of healthy tissue that men need for good sexual functioning.  In what other case do doctors remove healthy tissue to prevent cancer?  I don't see anyone signing up for a proactive colostomy and TONS of people die of colon cancer. 

The bottom line is male circumcision is something that, unfortunately, has been around for many years and people, usually ones that are themselves cut and/or do the cutting, are always looking for reasons to justify circumcision to salvage their ego and pad their wallets.  Monetary concerns and ego drive the AAP's decision today NOT what is best for our sons.  If you circumcise your child you take away his right to his whole body and you will forever alter his sexual identity and experiences.  If you leave your child intact he can make his own choices about his body.  If he disagrees with your decision then when he's 18 he can sign up for circumcision if he chooses.  If you circumcise him at birth and he disagrees when he grows up there is nothing you can do to return that part of his body to him.  (By the time he asks you where his foreskin went it will have already been sold for research or skin cream.)

This is not an issue of medical evidence.  This is an issue of ethics.  Do you trust doctors/mohels that are cut themselves and make money from cutting babies or do you trust independent researchers from intact countries and the millions of unpaid Intactivists working every day to spread information about why circumcision is wrong?  Circumcision is yet another place to apply that old cliche: Follow the money.

Do I trust doctors?  Sometimes.  I trust a doctor to treat my trauma in an ER if I'm in a car accident.  I trust him/her to mend my child's broken bone.  But I always keep in mind that not all that long ago doctors used to say smoking was good for you.  Doctors also used to put icepicks in people's brains to "cure" mental illness.  And let's not forget they also used to think circumcision could "cure" masturbation or epilepsy.  Doctors make mistakes just like other people do, especially when their own paychecks are involved.

Upton Sinclair: 'It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.'


  1. Jeff is correct, and I'm a man who suffered at the hands of an ignorant doctor. Did he cut my penis just for the money he received? Probably.

  2. I had a near similar reaction to the report on NPR, and I do commend them for giving Gorganne Chapin airtime and attempting to maintain balance by calling it controversial and noting the move away from circumcision. My husband, although anti-circumcision but not an intactivist, had this to say today, following the story:

    We need to think very long and hard about the implications of a group of doctors, or people in authority, telling us we need to remove healthy body parts because we may not be able to use them responsibly. This is Fascism. This crazy idea that we can't learn how to be decent human beings can be extrapolated to all sorts of losses of personal freedoms. To suggest we must deny choice and whole bodies to children because they may or may not one day grow up to make irresponsible choices, denies them their inalienable rights to personal choice and personal freedom. This is a slippery slope. So while we discuss ethics, and medical non-benefits, and any other fear mongering laid out by people in authority, we must remember that as Americans, we value freedom. Circumcision is not freedom.

    1. Can I quote your husband on my facebook page? He makes an excellent point that I've never seen argued before!

    2. Your husband is a very smart man. I look forward to seeing this quote doing the rounds on facebook!

    3. Yah it's become a bit of a joke around here. Both my youngest son and I have epilepsy. I keep saying we are both going in for our circumcisions. I have 3 amazing intact sons, and can not imagine mutilating them. It makes me sick to think of the babies that will be harmed because of these new "recommendations." And why? Because of money, thats why.

    4. Please share all you want. I've left this comment on several 'libertarian' blogs commenting on the right to cut babies.

    5. Your husband's point is indeed a good one. Children worldwide should have an inalienable right to intact genetalia.

    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    7. Reminds me of this ...

  3. I share in your frustration and am shocked/dismayed/mildly amused/slightly crazy. I feel like on one hand, with Germany banning circumcision, circumcision has one foot out the door. With this latest AAP development, I feel like they've just dragged the old beast back in, kicking and screaming and foaming at the mouth. What the hell is going on with the world? I am literally... [insert appropriate word here]!!!!!! I just don't know what to say! I just wrote a blog about it myself to put my voice out there without getting bludgeoned to death by my friends/family on facebook who believe it's the right of the parent to choose whether or not they should hack off a piece of their child. How do you get through to people who just don't want to know? If they don't want to hear it, and there's all this "information" *coughblatantliescough* they can read to vindicate themselves, IS there anything we can really do? Goddamnit, stop the world I want to get off...

  4. I do love this here, thank you. I'm choosing not to share anything publicly on my page or otherwise that would bring attention to the new yet unclear stance by the AAP but this is good for anti circ parents to read in case of parent to parent discussions I think. Since you just used the common sense arguments (which are great, don't get me wrong), do you think you could also post in your blog some links where people can access more scientific info? I find some people need to see the science. I often show my doula clients Circumcision: The Elephant in the Hospital - and discuss the major major flaws in the Africa study as a start. But obviously, as you know, there are many options for other links that may help those needing to see how studies were done and findings in addition to the plain old common sense of it. Because as we know, common sense doesn't work when up against medical 'recommendations'. :) Thanks again.

    1. Interesting that both your comment and the one immediately above it pointed out how people are often swayed by supposedly scientific info put forth by the pro-circumcision lobby. This is an excellent point and one I will definitely explore in a future blog. I guess part of the reason I've neglected posting a ton of study links up to this point is that I personally feel that even if circumcision really did contribute to the prevention of HIV it's still not something that should be done to newborn children. It is not ethical to use human babies as pawns in some kind of CDC plan to eradicate HIV or HPV or any other disease, no matter how deadly it may be. The baby's foreskin belongs to him and him only. His parents should not have the right to decide to remove it for ANY reason, religious or medical.

  5. Here's a refutation which has absolutely no basis in double-blind refereed CDC-approved state of the art studies.

    Fancy that, some parents might actually object to having their newborn babies molested in the obstetrical ward.

  6. Dear Jeff,

    I just came across blog, and knew I should reach out to you personally. I work for Intact America, an organization devoted to ending routine infant circumcision in the United States. I’m thrilled to see you’re speaking out on the issue, and helping to educate parents about our country’s blind acceptance of this bizarre cultural tradition.

    As I am sure you know, the AAP just recently revised their statement about circumcision, claiming that the benefits outweigh the risk. Although they don’t go as far as to recommend circumcision, their new stance is still dangerous. We at Intact America are trying desperately to stop the current cycle of misinformation and educate doctors, expectant parents, and the public about the ethics and harms of infant circumcision.

    We’d appreciate anything you could do to help spread the word about this troubling development. Perhaps you could write about this issue on your website, and/or link to our website ( for more information for parents who are struggling with the decision. We also have a petition on our site that people can sign, which will be sent to the CDC urging them not to recommend circumcision for all U.S. baby boys. We also have an action campaign on our site, where people can send letters to the AAP, urging them to retract their new statement.

    Every day, thousands of babies are circumcised unnecessarily… so any exposure you might add to our cause would be extremely valuable.

    If you have any questions about our organization, please don’t hesitate to contact me.


    Joseph Jensen
    Intact America Assistant
    Intact America
    P.O. Box 8516
    Tarrytown, NY 10591-8516
    T 914.372.2200
    F 914.372.2302

    1. Hi Joe,
      First of all thanks for all the work you and everyone at Intact America does. Shame on me for not already having a link to Intact America on my page. (Oh well I like to think I am a better writer than blog administrator. ha ha.)
      I signed the petition on the Intact America site. The suggestion in Georgeanne Chapin's follow up email about contacting local press is a GREAT idea. The more coverage of this issue, the better. The more people actually start talking about circumcision the better the chances that some parents to be are going to realize how barbaric and unnecessary the practice is. I'm going to draft a letter to one of our local periodicals this week and then post here in the hope that others will be inspired to do the same. If enough people do this the backlash against the AAP will reach national attention.
      Jeff Sanger

  7. This video will shock your conscience. Torture By Another Name: “Circumcision”