Oct 272010
 

“Oh no! Why didn’t they circumcise him?” – Pediatrician upon removing the diaper of a 12 day old baby during a newborn exam.

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 October 27, 2010  circumcision, newborn, pediatrician  Add comments

  114 Responses to “"Oh No! Why Didn't They Circumcise Him?"”

  1. Umm, because I didn’t want them to?

  2. Because cosmetic surgery on a newborn is ridiculous. Now be a good doctor and don’t touch his penis.

  3. Smack a great big *L* on that doc’s forehead.

  4. This baby had been in the NICU for ten days and I told every person who came in his room that he was not to be circumcized. So when I took him in two days later to see his regular pediatrician, she opened his diaper, gasped, and said “OH NO! Why didn’t they circumcize him??” The worst part to me is, I have an older intact son and she was also his pediatrician. And yes, she told me to retract his foreskin (but just as far as it would go). She is no longer our doctor.

  5. Why didn’t they lobotomize you yet?

  6. Why would you circumcise him? I’d like to know the doctor’s answer to that question. This doctor needs to be seriously informed before she injures someone.

  7. Ahhh you make me appreciate my pediatrician so much! I think we were her first home birth family; she was a little suprised, did some research, and was fine with it. Then she asked, “You’re not going to circumcise if it’s a boy, are you?” “No!” “Oh good!” and then talked about how crazy it is for insurance to cover what is a cosmetic procedure, etc.

    • Our pedi asked us a similar question although we don’t home birth (yet). We wanted to make sure she would check our kiddo over before leaving the hospital so no moron would make the wrong judgement and do something we didn’t consent to. My first son was born with rather severe hypospadia, we want to be sure that we’re dealing with a doctor who knows her stuff. She doesn’t do circumcisions anyway. She says she prefers not to profit off of something so unnecessary.

      She’s great though, she said she’d make a special trip in if she wasn’t the pedi on call. We absolutely love her!

      • ” She says she prefers not to profit off of something so unnecessary.”

        I LOVE this! I wish more doctors were this way. And I wish more people understood that doctors MAKE MONEY off unnecessary procedures, duh, that’s why they recommend them.

        • Like I said, she’s awesome. She’s got 5 kids, plus the fact that she’s a pediatrician so she knows her stuff. She’s the one doctor I’ve dealt with that I will really respect the opinion of. I also know that she will respect my opinion. I love that she can back up what her opinion is based on as well. She expects a parent to be able to do the same. Don’t think I’ve had one appointment that lasted under an hour and the entire hour is spent in discussion or the actual exams needed. Most other pedis we’ve had, thouth not all bad, rushed big time.

          Lol sorry, I’m done bragging on her. Its just refreshing to deal with a doctor who practices based on science and common sense.

          • That’s so great, I wish I lived in your town so I could see her too! I did find a GP who is good, but not awesome like yours. My oldest (who from the previous submission here on MOSW does not have Down Syndrome) does have autism, and he doesn’t give me any heck for delaying vaccines so that’s good. But he did kind of chuckle when I told him that sprinkling acidophilus on the baby’s yeasty diaper rash helped more than his Rx cream. Oh well, at least he is better than what I’ve had in the past.

  8. …perhaps because there was no sign of GANGRENE, and therefore no reason to amputate?? Just a guess. ;)

    Sounds an awful lot like my mom when she watched me change my youngest son’s diaper. She said, “OH! WELL! I suppose when you have your babies at ~home~, they just don’t do everything that they’re supposed to. When are you having that taken care of?” I said, “Well, actually, they *did* do everything they’re supposed to, including tucking me into my own bed and tossing in a load of laundry. And as far as ‘taking care of’ anything, I believe I’m doing that right now. (wipe wipe, change change’).”

    Yeah, I don’t see my mom very often. Good thing, too. ;)

    • We had our oldest (together) in a hospital and we were STRICT on the no circ.. when we got home my MIL didn’t even notice (even though he was hanging out in a bili crib naked and she had done at least two diapers) that he was intact. I thought it was safe territory at that point and mentioned how infuriating it was that we had to tell EVERY SINGLE LAST PERSON that walked in the room not to chop off his body parts! She and my FIL ordered us to take him straight back to the hospital and get him cut immediately. They even started picking him up to put him in the carseat!! We refused! Now we have TWO intact boys. We have heard nothing else about it since.. except that my MIL retracted him without knowing so now EVERYONE gets a lecture on un circ’d penises. :) YMCA child watch staff, everyone! :)

      • What crap! My dad really pushed us to circ (actually, my husband did to so I guess they pushed *me* to circ). He even offered to pay for it. To be honest, when he was born, I wasn’t sure what to do but I procrastinated until I could decide. Truthfully, I’d already decided because I’d had my oldest circed 8 years before and my stomach still ties in knots at the thought of them taking him away. I found the unbiased research I was looking for so I could officially announce there would be no circing in our house again! My dad’s still irritated about it but it’s not his penis so he can be as ticked as he wants! (I’ve also taught him about the intact care. Luckily he has no experience with an intact penis so he hasn’t been misinformed!)

  9. What a moron!! I would tell her that I will cut off my son’s foreskin when you are strapped down against your will to have yout labia sliced off with little/no anesthesia. *sweet smile*

  10. I did have my son circumcised, mostly because I left that decision up to my husband, BUT this one is obvious…Because the parents didn’t want to circ him. Duh.

    • I had my oldest circumcised for the same reason, but after doing my research this time, I very confidently kept my youngest intact. I wish I could give my oldest his foreskin back, but I can’t so it’s a moot point. Anyway, I thought the same thing. No matter where you stand on the issue, it makes much more sense to realize that a) more parents a choosing to keep their sons intact than in recent decades and b) he was in NICU for 10 days so even if the parents wanted him circumcised, it might not have been medically possible! I can think of plenty of reasons why he’s not circumcised that would come to mind before thinking they forgot to do it.

  11. Even more obvious than the fact that in this case the parents didn’t want him circumsized. How about the fact that the porr little guy just spent 10 days in NICU? Didn’t somebody recently lose a baby when after heart surgery or something the parents insisted the baby be circumsized before he was completely recoverd from major surgery. Come on DOC it is medically counterindicated to do cosmetic surgery on anyone still recovering from another health condition. Bad medicine and bad bedside manner is a bad combo. Dr. House you aren’t!

    • If you’re talking about baby Joshua, what actually happened is he was in the NICU because of a heart defect. The doctor said that if they were going to circumcise, that they needed to do it before he got any bigger, claiming it would be less risky that way. The baby hemorrhaged during surgery. His heart failed the next day. His death is a terrible tragedy.

      http://www.drmomma.org/2010/10/who-are-you-calling-intactivist.html

      • Thanks for a completely different set of details. In any event Joshua’s doctor should not have preformed the circ. and the Ped of the OP should not have been surprised that a baby who spent 10 days in NICU had not been circ’ed even if the parents did eventual want it done. She should have just asked if the plan was to leave him intact or not without the surprise or the obvious judgement.
        So sorry about baby Joshua. His mother shouldn’t feel bad, but his doctor should.

      • Are you trying to say that the circumcision did NOT lead to his death? Because I certainly don’t think that is what Dr. Momma was saying. Some quotes from that blog post:

        As a community that seeks truth and transparency regarding the issue of circumcision, we have an obligation to speak up when what is being reported is inconsistent with the facts, especially when the facts would tend to show that circumcision was the primary culprit in the death of a defenseless child.

        When considering the evidence available to us it is virtually impossible for Joshua’s doctors to make the claim that Joshua’s death was entirely unrelated to the complications of his circumcision. This past May, Peaceful Parenting posted an article which synthesized research about the well documented risk of cardiac arrest and hemorrhage resulting from circumcision. These are real risks for a even healthy newborns and the harsh reality is that circumcision surgery is extremely taxing on little hearts. Readers should know that professional medical and health organizations such as the RACP, AAP, CPS and others have even listed circumcision as contraindicated for unstable infants.

        It is well known that the primary cause of cardiac arrest in a child is blood loss. Add in a child who already has a heart condition, and it really doesn’t take much of a blood loss to lead to cardiac arrest.

        • Absolutely not! I was just trying to correct the inaccurate facts about the details of this family’s loss. I simply giving the facts without judgment. I most definitely did not mean to imply that circumcision played no role in the baby’s death. I don’t think I’m qualified to make that call, but I linked to the article with someone’s opinion who knows more on the topic than I do and expressed her opinion very eloquently. The article was originally posted on Navelgazing Midwife’s blog, but I decided to link to it on the Dr. Momma site because of all of the other great pro-intact resources that can be found there, in case anyone was curious for more information. I am opposed to routine infant circumcision. I have an intact husband and an intact son. I feel really bad for this family, though, because they’ve taken some really harsh criticism that I don’t think they deserved.

          • Actually, Joshua’s mother said that Joshua’s doctors told her that the circumcision didn’t have anything to do with his death. His heart just couldn’t make it any longer.

          • And you believed it? I and many others I know read her now-deleted blog post after he was circumcised and hemorrhaged for nearly SEVEN hours unchecked. :( Even a healthy infant can’t handle that much blood loss! She admitted the circumcision was a bad choice, and was sobbing over her decision, lamenting it.
            I will agree totally the drs lied to her and pushed for it to be done; it was an appalling breach of AAP protocols that clearly state only stable, healthy infants should be circumcised. So so sad, so avoidable.

          • Isn’t the whole point of this website to show that you can’t always believe everything a doctor says? The article I linked to clearly explained that the evidence contradicts what the doctor said. Whether or not his heart would have made it without having to deal with the severe blood loss, we can’t *really* know, but I’m not taking the doctor’s word for it, just like I don’t buy that this sick baby was really healthy enough for an elective surgery.

      • I’m not sure what unplugged meant. I assumed first of all she was responding to my inaccurate report that the parents insisted whereas her report was that the doctor insisted. The doctor should have been in a position to say this boy will not be getting any unneccessary surgery and if that means her looks different from daddy so be it. It is normally the doctor’s responsiblity to present the risks in an unbiased manner. In this case it was the doctor’s responsiblity to present the clear facts that the risk was too great and the benefit too small to even consider circumsizing this child. The doctor failed.

  12. My son is circumcised but that is because I made a CHOICE to do that. Clearly this mom chose not to…which is perfectly within her right. I don’t believe either of us should be judged for our decisions!!!

    • I also agree. Its a personal choice for each family. That choice should be respected no matter which side of the fence it lands on. Either way you’re making the decision you feel is best for your little one.

      • It is a personal choice… maybe it should be made by the PERSON with the PENIS you’re trying to hack off!

        • EXACTLY!!!

          Everyone who says, “it’s a personal choice” has it EXACTLY RIGHT! The person with the penis should decide if he wants part of his penis removed. When he is old enough to make the decision and when he can have PROPER anesthesia!!!

    • Sorry, personally, I don’t respect anyone’s choice to mutilate their child’s genitals.

      • Keep your rudeness to yourself. To each their own, if you don’t agree, be mature and keep your negative, snide remarks to yourself, unless asked.
        Kthanks.

        • I don’t feel that I’m being rude, negative or snide. I have a right to my opinion, just as you have a right to yours. I’ll be silent about mine when you decide to be silent about yours. :)

        • I know that in US/Jewish/Muslim culture male circumcision is seen as acceptable… but can you imagine what would be said about a person who did these types of things to a baby in a culture that didn’t accept circumcision? In some cultures it is totally acceptable to beat or stone your wife because she has caused shame to come upon your family for whatever reason. My guess is Kayla that you would not respect this opinion or state ‘to each their own’. While many well meaning parents choose to circumcise their boys and girls across the world, it makes it no less genital mutilation by definition.

          • I wasn’t saying that it was rude or snide to call it genital mutilation. I know what it is, and my son isn’t circumcized. But I think it was rude of Alice to say, “I don’t respect anyones choices for…..” If you disagree or have a different point of view then someone else, then that is totally fine. BUT saying you don’t respect them for that reason is not only rude, but childish. I hold respect for any person who makes their own decisions for their children – breastfeeding or not, vaccinating or not, circumcising or not, homeschooling or not, etcc….. – I don’t agree with circumcision, but I respect those who do because it is a decision (ignorant or not) they make for their own children. And in this culture it is acceptable to circumcise, so I respect those who do. It is not acceptable for men to beat women, so I don’t respect abusive husbands/boyfriends. It wasn’t about the circumcision, it was about Alice’s blatant comment about refusing to respect Steph.

          • I said nothing about not respecting the people who make those decisions. I said I don’t respect the decision. There is a huge difference.

          • RIC is the only parenting decision I have absoloutely zero respect for. I’m British and couldn’t believe it when I first read that it’s done in the US, I had to check it out I thought people were having me on!

      • By being judgemental towards parents who choose to circ, you are being just as bad as those who are being judgemental to parents who choose not to. Double standard much??

        • 1. I am not judging the parents. I am judging the decisions.
          2. I don’t think it’s a double standard, actually. Routine infant circumcision is a violation of a child’s rights and a violation of bodily integrity and removes a part of the child’s body for life without his or her consent. Leaving a child intact is… doing nothing. Letting him or her be as nature intended. It’s quite a different thing to judge a harmful action than it is to judge a harmless inaction.

          • Blah blah blah, your comment was bitchy and you know it.
            We don’t care for your “superiority”, in fact I have no respect for people try to put others down for having an different opinion than theirs.

          • Circumcision *should* be left up to the baby, not the parents. Why should anyone have the right to choose to chop off someone else’s body parts unnecessarily? My first son was circ’d but that was because I didn’t know any better, but with my second I learned. I too do not respect anyone who believes it is a parent’s personal choice or right to mutilate their child for no reason. It’s not an opinion, it’s a fact, RIC is cosmetic surgery and painful and maybe even traumatic to a child.

          • Hey, you’re offended by my “superiority”, and I’m offended that you think it’s okay to cut off part of a child’s body without his or her consent without a valid medical reason. I can state my offense without calling those holding the opposing view bitches, implying they’re immature, or telling them to shut up and keep it to themselves. Why can’t you?

          • Because you didn’t just state your opposing view, but you said, “I don’t respect anyone who refuses to mutilate their child’s genitals”. It wasn’t really about the genital mutilation, but more about your refusal to respect her for her choice, even though you disagreed.
            You didn’t just “state your offense”, you told her you didn’t respect her for it. If you can’t state your opposing viewpoint respectfully, with some tact, then it really is better to keep your mouth shut. Because I completey agree with your viewpoint, and my son isn’t circumcised, but I disagree with such blatant disrespect. And your manner of stating your viewpoint was, yes, bitchy and immature.

          • So is it “bitchy and immature” of me to not respect the choice of female genital mutilation in other cultures? Is it bitchy and immature of me to not respect a pedophile’s choice to molest children? They all cause harm. They cause varying degrees of harm, but it is all harm of a sexual nature committed to a child. It is sick and wrong, and no, I don’t respect it. You can call me bitchy and immature for it all you’d like; I’d rather be bitchy and immature than to think it could possibly be okay to cut off part of a child’s genitals.

            And since I know someone will get outraged over it, I am not saying that parents that circumcise their children are rapists or pedophiles or child molesters. I also think spanking is wrong but I don’t think parents who spank their children are the same as people who violently beat children.

          • Bwahahahaha. Okay.
            Clearly you are missing the point. I never said or implied that your viewpoint was bitchy & immature. I said your manner of stating it was. And I said I do agree that child mutilation is not okay. OF COURSE molesting children isn’t respectable or even acceptable. That’s not the point. Clearly you’re being defensive, taking my words out of context and bringing up the ridiculous (I don’t think parents who spank their children are the same as people who violently beat children — no shit, sherlock) Don’t worry, my argument here is done, but I’m sure you’ll get the last word. You win?…?

          • Defensive? What on earth am I being defensive about? How am I taking your words out of context? I am not obligated to respect this choice, as I don’t respect those other choices. You seem to be of the mistaken opinion that I hold no respect for parents who choose to circumcise their children, based on comments above – this is not the case. I feel sad that those parents have been brought up in a society where they have been led to believe that such a thing is okay, but I feel no hatred or disrespect for them. They don’t know better. It’s the choice and the action that I have no respect for. I honestly don’t see how feeling that way, or stating that I feel that way, is bitchy or immature. It’s a violation of that child’s rights, I don’t respect it.

            I’ve not insulted a single person while stating my opinion. I’ve called no one names or attacked them personally. I’ve stated that I don’t respect their choice. Why the hostility? “no shit sherlock”? What I meant might have been “duh” to you, but surely you know as well as I do that if I hadn’t drawn that connection, others would have assumed I was lumping parents who circumcise their children in with child molesters – and probably still will – and that wasn’t my intent.
            I think there is some breakdown in communication. I’m not sure where that breakdown is, but I get the feeling that you are misinterpreting what I’m saying.

  13. “Oh no! You mean that’s not what a penis is SUPPOSED to look like? How could we have missed that?!”

    ugh.

  14. Something tells me this doc doesn’t gasp in horror at a baby girl’s unpierced ears.

  15. Before I found out that I’m having a girl, I spoke to my husband about circumcision if we had a boy. My family is Jewish, but I’m not really much of anything. My husband is circumcised and when I said I had no, my family’s beliefs are not sending my kid under the knife, he was so relieved. I have no interest in having cosmetic surgery done on my baby’s genitals. I wouldn’t never even pierce my daughter’s ears, why would I hurt a tiny baby’s penis? I have random Jewish traditions that I grew up with and adhere to… this is not one of them.

    As I confirmed with him, I am TERRIFIED of an episiotomy. Why would I do something that I consider similar to a helpless child? What did that kid ever do to me?

    • Yeah… the usually don’t use anesthetic or wait long enough for it to take effect… we decided with our son that we would leave the choice up to him when he was of age, its his penis, his sex organ, etc. I told my mom and she was like do you know how painful that will be when he’s older, and I was like the same as it would be now, except he’d be able to be under, and self medicate for the pain…

    • If you did want to honor your Jewish heritage, you could look into the type of circ that was *actually* done by the ancient Hebrews instead of the “high and tight” done today. You might be able to find a mohel who would do the symbolic cut that was originally done. After Israel was Hellenized & Jewish boys were tugging their foreskin down to appear Greek instead of Jewish for athletic events(done nude back then — yeah, the circ was that loose), the rabbis started doing them much more drastically.

      • The difference is pretty incredible isnt it… The circ done nowadays is so very different. It was more like a slit top to bottom (or front to back, depending on how you want to look at it) in northern Israel. Southern parts it was a cut across the whole foreskin, but still not the complete ringbarking (my husband calls it this – he is circumcised) that is done now. Though I noticed last year that my American patients have a much “tighter” circ than my natural australian patients – I am Australian, in Australia, I was in Palliative care at the time with several naturalised patients (Immigrants). Its as if its still seen as a masturbation preventive there, or even as though doctors are/were competing to see who could get the most skin off :(

  16. Part of a competent doctor’s job is to be aware of the changing winds of fashion, of the cultural aspects of medicine. An obgyn who is not aware of the growing popularity of natural birth is incompetent. An urban doctor who is oblivious to the fact that a fraction of his patients are gay, is incompetent. Likewise, a pediatrician who is not aware of the growing popularity of leaving baby boy’s penises alone, is incompetent.

    Nearly all American doctors and nurses are not educated about the foreskin and its purposes, and quite a few let their sexual prejudices get in the way of what should be sound professional judgement.

  17. I just don’t get why insurance is all about paying for totally unnecessary cosmetic surgery when I can’t get even a penny towards reparing what the butcher did during my unnecessary c-section (oh sorry, I mean what the professional surgeon did during my totally necessary and life saving procedure *rolling eyes*) and this is even after I’ve had doctors say that reconstructive surgery would greatly improve my overall health.

  18. Gosh, I am so glad that I live in Europe. My brothers, my husband, my son, my nephews all intact and not a word of discussion about it. Never. The only ones who circumsize here are religious jews and muslims.

  19. Because its a choice, dear. Not a necessity.

    Not only that, but the pedi may have NO idea before really doing some inspecting that there may be a medical reason for no circumcision. My son was not circumcised and also had hypospadia. We had to wait until a year old to do a reconstructive surgery to repair the urethra, they needed that skin to do the repair.

    This doc is ALSO a putz because even one of the top urologists in the country at Mayo instructed us “don’t do anything special, just treat it normally. No pulling the skin back or anything.” I slapped the hand of a doctor we saw in a pinch when my son had a fever. She tried to retract the foreskin and was obviously causing my son pain. It was just a split decision.. *smack!* Both of his normal pediatricians have always been so good about it. I’m sort of surprised this one on this post has no information on caring for intact penises.

  20. “Because we are letting him make that choice himself. It is HIS penis, after all.”

  21. “Whaddaya mean?! He’s a BOY?!”

  22. I’m guessing this was one of those stupid moments where the dumb comment filter wasn’t working – probably because she sees 99.9 percent circumcised boys in her practice to the point where it’s gotten to be the norm.

  23. Comments like this reaffirm my desire to see a spin-off site: “My Ped Said What?!?”

  24. Or how about:

    *matched tone of shock and dismay* “We didn’t circumcise him because the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend it! *pause for effect* … Haven’t you heard…?”

  25. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Michelle Cannon, My OB said WHAT?!. My OB said WHAT?! said: “Oh No! Why Didn’t They Circumcise Him?” http://bit.ly/bJhqHZ [...]

  26. Ah, these posts reaffirm my love for my midwife and GP. My midwife said to me when I refused the circumcision “Wow, do you know how COOL it is to work with someone who thinks for themself and considers all the information given to them?” I had researched tons, and decided that if he wanted to later, fine, but I was not going to put him through misery at just a few days old.

  27. I’m a regular poster, but nervous about the response to this one, so I’m staying anonymous here.
    I’m wondering, what is your opinion when a circumcision is done for religious purposes?

    • I think it’s just as wrong. If any religion called for, say, removing someone’s finger at birth, you’d think that was wrong, right?
      I also know there’s an anti-circumcision movement amongst jews. There’s a website and everything: http://www.jewsagainstcircumcision.org/
      There’s also at least one post on Peaceful Parenting discussing how circumcision in antiquity (biblical times) is vastly different from what it is today, but my toddler is fussing and I don’t have time to dig it up.

    • http://www.drmomma.org/2010/07/biblical-circumcision-information.html
      Here’s the aforementioned Peaceful Parenting post. Dr Momma also has many other articles on Jewish circumcision.

    • I can sympathize with the dilemma. I don’t agree with circumcision even for religious purposes, but I understand that there’s extra opposition when facing a religious family or congregation. I haven’t honestly done much research into Jewish reasons for circumcision, but I have done so when talking to a friend about Christianity as a justification. According to the research I’ve done, it is contraindicated in the New Testament and the original commandment to circumcise is repealed.

      Please don’t take any offense because I don’t mean any at all, but any religion that must bind a newborn to it, days after birth, using such a barbaric method is very questionable. I think religious ties should be determined when the child is old enough to make that conscious choice. I know that a child in a Baptist home will likely choose to be Baptist, etc., but a religion should be able to get and keep willing followers without using unconsented surgery.

      It is the same as with female circumcision…which is primarily justified with religion. If a particular religion stated that followers should have their children tattooed with a religious symbol just after birth I think we’d strongly question it.

      • “I think religious ties should be determined when the child is old enough to make that conscious choice.”

        This was almost the precise wording of one of the rabbis on the site that I read (a couple of years back — I don’t know if I could find it, and if I could, it’s probably already been posted).

        He argued that a newborn child is not capable of making a meaningful Covenant.

    • Personally, I have more respect for those that do it for religious reasons than those who do it “just because”. For them, it is part of their faith, their culture, and their afterlife. They believe it is part of what makes them holy. I see this the same way I see the people that put discs in their lip in Africa. It is archaic, yes, but to me I see religion as a semi-valid argument. not a GOOD one, but at least its better than the dumbfounded smile and regurgitated bull that most people spout.

    • I think that one aspect of the debate that’s neglected is that it also matters WHY the child is cut or circumcised in any way and WHAT it means about God, the baby’s body, and baby’s relationship to God.

      Because of this, I don’t think FGM and male circumcision are exactly the same, as many claim. In pragmatic terms, there are a lot of striking corollaries, yes…but the meaning of the act matters, too. Because that act puts a permanent mark on a person and tells a story to them the rest of their lives about who they are.

      Male circumcision, at least in Jewish ritual: Child, you are a part of the covenant. God will be your God and you are a part of his chosen people Israel forever. (Note the lack of body- or sex-shaming.)

      Female genital mutilation: Child, your body is an evil snare. We must save you from your own body by cutting out an evil part so that someday, a man may want you and be able to trust you with his children. (Your body is for someone else, not for you. Enjoying it is evil, immoral, dangerous to society and to your soul. No one will love you unless we do this to you. You should be happy we’re hurting you–it makes you worthwhile.)

      I don’t think this distinction is the tipping point of the discussion, but I think it’s an important aspect of it. They’re both heavily symbolic acts in religion and in culture, and we’d better pay attention to what those acts mean.

      • This is a really smart analysis, and puts into words what I struggle to. Thanks!

        I think the “You wouldn’t let someone chop off a finger” or “Do you think FGM is ok too?” arguments against circumcision are some of the weakest, and fail to account for other factors.

        Circumcision, particularly of the ritual variety, can be done painlessly and without removing too much foreskin. Routine circumcision as it’s done in hospitals absolutely horrifies me.

        • I’ve never been to a bris, but I’ve also never heard of one where the baby didn’t cry, and I’ve often heard of the mother needing to leave because she couldn’t handle her baby crying.

          I can agree, however, that ‘original’ circumcision was simply a sliver, a mere ‘token’ compared to the complete amputation that is practiced today.

          • I’ve heard of several bris ceremonies where the baby didn’t cry. One in fact from my teacher’s son. (I know him personally, he isn’t lying – anyhow there’s an awful lot of witnesses!)

            Some mohels point out that often the baby is crying BEFORE the actual circumcision, just because when the diaper comes off they are cold, and they don’t necessarily cry more during the actual procedure.

            The clamps used in medical circumcision, which are not permitted by Jewish law, cause EXTREME pain. The mohel also performs the procedure much more quickly and skillfully than a pediatrician.

            Either way, if I wasn’t Jewish I certainly wouldn’t circumcise, but as a Jew I trust that G-d knows what’s best for me and for my son.

            (In my personal experience I felt by the baby’s reaction that the ritual circumcision was not extremely painful – far less so than say an ear infection, but the bandages were fairly uncomfortable.)

      • The acceptance of male circumcision goes far beyond Judaism and was in fact a cure for masturbation in MEDICAL TEXTS even in the 70′s. It’s supposed effect of lessening masturbation was proposed by Kellogg and Graham… yeah, the Kellogg and Graham of the food world today! As we all know it didn’t work!

        As far as the whole religion thing goes female circumcision has that to back it up to depending on who you ask…

        This is from a pamphlet online by Womenkind Worldwide (who are against female circumcision) discussing the religious factors in female genital mutilation…

        this is the link if to where I got it from
        http://awro.uneca.org/downloads/FGM%20-%20Religious%20and%20Legal%20Perspectives.pdf

        Religious reasons:

        Conference participants noted that in some cultures, particularly
        amongst Muslims, FGM has been practised in the belief that it is
        a form of worship and/or religious duty, and a mandatory part of
        the Islamic sharia law. The conference participants believe that
        this has been perpetuated by a lack of clarity around the relevant
        hadiths (traditions relating to the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad).

        In Christianity, according to an Egyptian Christian leader, FGM
        continues to be perpetuated because religious leaders are or
        have been unwilling to discuss it with their congregations. They
        have not wanted to create rifts in their communities, as they
        know how strongly families feel about the issue. Furthermore, the same priest noted:

        ‘Female circumcision protects girls’ purity
        and chastity – and purity and chastity is the
        way that they will reach God’
        -Bishop Makarous Youssif Labeeb, Egypt

        • “In Christianity, according to an Egyptian Christian leader…”

          This is one sect of Christianity and certainly does not represent the views of all Christians. Just to point out the painfully obvious! :) Furthermore, to say that purity and chastity are how people reach God is basically the opposite of Christian teaching, which says that people can’t do anything to work their way toward God, so God came to them in Christ. So I wouldn’t call this guy a good representative! ;)

    • While I do my best to respect and accept religions of all kinds I do not believe violence perpetrated for religious reasons is of any less harm that violence perpetrated for nonreligious reasons.

      • Also a regular poster here myself.
        Yes, I totally agree with this.
        I rank circumcision up there with other religious practices such as stoning rape victims and child Marriage.

        Also, if an adult wishes to make a covenent with his diety by undergoing bodily modification it is much more meaningful than strapping down a helpless infant and cutting pieces off of him.

        • To refuse to see the difference between even minimal ritual circumcision and stoning (!!) actually confuses the real issue. Can we not have a spectrum of “acceptable” rather than drawing a line around EVERY kind of circumcision with absolutely zero exceptions? I think this sort of thing is incredibly harmful to the anti-circumcision movement. See Melissa’s excellent explanation of the differences between covenantal rituals and punitive ones:

          “Male circumcision, at least in Jewish ritual: Child, you are a part of the covenant. God will be your God and you are a part of his chosen people Israel forever. (Note the lack of body- or sex-shaming.)

          “Female genital mutilation: Child, your body is an evil snare. We must save you from your own body by cutting out an evil part so that someday, a man may want you and be able to trust you with his children. (Your body is for someone else, not for you. Enjoying it is evil, immoral, dangerous to society and to your soul. No one will love you unless we do this to you. You should be happy we’re hurting you–it makes you worthwhile.)”

          • Even ‘minimal ritual circumcision’ (victim female or male) forces a person against their will to undergo a surgery that causes them harm and does no good… Sorry, I can’t see the acceptable in that.

            You can make a ‘pretty’ version for female circumcision (note how in the quote above one is mutilation and the other is circumcision) too: Child, you are protected and loved by God. To help you be close to God (as in covenant?) we mark you with purity.

            Just because it sounds prettier doesn’t make it anymore right. The main difference between the views on male and female circumcision has nothing to do with religion. The main difference is that the culture in the United States has accepted male circumcision and denounced female circumcision. It is easy to look into a culture from a distance and see the wrong, but it is much harder to look into your own culture, the culture you live and breathe, and see the wrong because it is so engrained.

    • I think it’s a violation of the child’s freedom of religion. I am not my parent’s religion and if I’d been physically altered in the name of her religion, I would have resented it. It’s not like dipping the baby in water. Plus, if he DOES follow his parent’s religion, then it’s more meaningful if it’s HIS choice to alter his penis in accordance with his beliefs.

      What’s more, biblical circumcision only calls for a small bit of skin to be removed, not the entire foreskin. The whole foreskin started being removed for the purposes of deterring masturbation.

  28. Gah! Why would they?
    I didn’t want my son circumcised, but my ex did. He sent my son to the nursery while I showered and he ordered the circumcision. It didn’t go well, he had tons of complications, and his pediatrician could tell which doctor did it just by looking at the crappy job. Poor kid.

  29. Circumcision is one of those things that 50 years from now people are going to look back and say, “OMG, They used to do WHAT to little boys!?”

    I have to support everyone here who has had the balls to say that it’s not the parent’s choice. We can’t go around doing whatever we want to our babies just because they’re “ours.” You have to draw the line somewhere, and I think cosmetic genital mutilation is way beyond wherever that line is.

  30. Because he didn’t ask them to, duh!

  31. I couldn’t read these replies and not respond.

    I believe circumcision is mutilation. It’s wrong regardless of any reason except actual medical neccessity. My husband is Jewish and agrees with me. We also feel that, regarding religion, We don’t have the right to force our beliefs on our children when it comes to a permanent alteration of their body, without their consent.
    As far as the comparison to Female Genital Mutilation. You are wrong if you thing all faiths or cultures do it because it’s an “evil” part. Most of the supporters of FGM do it for the same exact “reasons” as those who support MGM: cleanliness, health, looks, etc. And most cases of FGM only remove the clitoral hood and/or labia making it no different than male circumcision. Claiming that it’s ok to mutilate a boy but not a girl for any reason just proves how messed up people are. Actually claiming that it’s ok to permanently alter anyone’s body without their permission is just messed up. If it’s not your body, it’s NOT your decision.

  32. Yeah, I had a similar experience with the last pedi I took my kids to. I had just moved back to Ohio from Florida (the pedi I had in FL was AWESOME and had an intact son herself). I was still waiting for Medicaid to come through and was taking them to a doctor’s office that accepted pending medicaid and wouldn’t bill me unless my application was rejected (and I knew it wouldn’t be). So anyway, when I took my son for his physical, she opened his diaper and was like “He’s not circumcized?!?!” Like I was a freak for not cutting off a perfectly normal, functioning part of my son’s body! Ugh. Needless to say, we’re not going to that pedi now that my CareSource came through. We’re back at the one my daughter went to when she was 9-12 months old, before I moved to Florida, and I was originally referred to her by a mother of two intact boys.

  33. Newsflash Doctor Dork: Circumcision is NOT mandatory. It’s a personal choice made by the parents, and possibly the person being circumcised if he’s old enough to understand and make that choice. So butt out.

    Oh, and retracting the foreskin of a baby can hurt his penis. Moron.

  34. The patients of this pediatrician must be 99% circumcised, which may still be true in parts of the midwest. Still, a pediatrician or obgyn who doesn’t know that parental attitudes towards circumcision are changing is a doctor who has spent the last 20 years living under a rock.

    I am an intact baby boomer. I was often the only intact male in the locker room or in summer camp. Yet no doctor at any stage of my life ever asked “why aren’t you circumcised?” Nobody ever said to me “you ought to get that taken care of.” In the 1980s, I saw an andrologist (there is such a specialty) in Michigan. He had me retract my foreskin for him. When he saw that I could easily expose the entire glans, he said “Good. That’s the important thing.” He never commented on my being intact, never asked about foreskin problems I might be having.

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