by Ted Pong
Babies and children need nurture and love, and gentle hugs and kisses, not torture and mutilation.
An Insane Logic
1996 Seattle, WA - We hold this truth to be self evident -- Every human being has a sacred right to the inviolable privacy of his or her own body. But throughout history, humanity has honored this truth far more in the breach than in the keeping, justifying its violation upon the altar of various "higher" truths. And the justifications for circumcision are among those so-called "higher" truths.
There is a body of opinion that circumcision originated as a sanitary health measure, but it is not well supported.
As the incidence of breast cancer among women is more than ten thousand times as common as penile cancer is among men, then by Dr. Schoen's logic, we should begin a campaign to amputate the breasts of all girls at birth in order to prevent them from getting breast cancer.
The modern medical infatuation with circumcision had its roots in the 19th century, when educated doctors believed the procedure would prevent masturbation. These same trusted physicians seriously thought masturbation caused tuberculosis, insanity, alcoholism, feeble mindedness, poor posture, shyness, bed wetting, finger-nail biting, hair on the palms of the hands, and almost every other degenerative disease and bad habit known.
Every medical study and research project since, that has attempted to show a health or medical benefit from circumcision, has failed to find a single "benefit" that later studies and statistics did not prove invalid or inconclusive. Attempts during the 1940's and 1950's to relate cancer of the cervix in women to sexual intercourse with intact male partners were later invalidated by a study published by Drs. Terris, Wilson, and Nelson. Their article, "Relation of Circumcision to Cancer of the Cervix," appears in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dec. 15, 1973.
Urinary Tract Infections
The latest attempt to find a benefit from circumcision centers on urinary tract infections. Dr. Thomas Wiswell at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research in Washington D.C., reports a rate of urinary tract infections in boys left intact to be ten times that of circumcised boys. But he gives little emphasis to the fact that this ten-times factor is from less than a tenth of one percent, to barely one percent. Thus, for the sake of less than one percent of the male population, Dr. Wiswell wants us to ignore the fundamental right of the 99 percent to the privacy of their own bodies.
Yet, even Wiswell's rationale fails when confronted with the common sense observation that the raw open wound on the freshly circumcised penis will be exposed, for several days, to constant irritation and the heightened potential for infection from urine, feces and dirty diapers following circumcision.
Other attempts by circumcision-advocates to justify this primitive practice center on sexually transmitted diseases --without the foreskin to protect them, STDs can run, but they can't hide. But again, for the sake of the few who will not observe proper precautions in their sex lives, they want us to ignore the fundamental rights of all the baby boys who will, as men, practice responsible sex and proper hygiene.
A landmark study appearing in the New England Journal of Medicine, November 19, 1987, "Pain and its Effects in the Human Neonate and Fetus," by K.J.S. Anand, D. Phil., and P.R. Hickey, puts to rest conclusively the inexcusably callous assumption by doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel that babies feel no pain. One sentence in the conclusion of the article tells the whole story. "Physiologic responses to painful stimuli have been well documented in neonates of various gestational ages and are reflected in hormonal, metabolic, and cardiorespiratory changes similar to but greater than those observed in adult subjects."
Ignore the screaming, they feel no pain
Even so, there are still irresponsible doctors and nurses who continue to claim that babies feel no pain, and often fall asleep on the circumstraint, in the middle of the operation. In about 3 to 4 cases out of every ten, babies do appear to fall asleep during or immediately after the operation. But they are in a state of severe shock withdrawal, rather than asleep, because the violation of their sensitive sexual organ knocks them into a comatose state that may be dangerously close to death. What's more, in follow-up research, Anand and Hickey state in a later article published in the New England Journal of Medicine, January 2, 1992, that babies undergoing such excruciatingly painful procedures are at increased risk of death due to stress of surgery.
Die-hard defenders of the myth that circumcision of babies is painless, denounce the Anand and Hickey study as only one study. This is not quite true. The Anand and Hickey study covers a wealth of information in embryology and neonatology, with over two hundred references to major studies and research, some dating back over 50 years.
Since the Anand and Hickey study, local anesthetic is being used more frequently for routine circumcision, and some use this to side-step the issue of pain. But their irresponsibly callous argument ignores that the invasive amputation of a sensitive body part will hurt for days after the anesthetic wears off, as anyone who has had dental work or a tonsillectomy knows. It also ignores that removing a normal, healthy body part from a healthy baby, with no medical indication or justification in the individual case, is a flagrant violation of the baby's right to his or her own body.
Human Rights Issue
The fundamental issue of circumcision is one of human rights.
All medical arguments about any possible benefits resulting from circumcision -- even if they could find and prove such benefits for ten percent or more of all babies -- disregard every principle of human decency and compassion.
To illustrate the insanity of the arguments in favor of circumcision, Edgar J. Schoen of Oakland, California, claims circumcision prevents penile cancer. (See Sounding Board, New England Journal of Medicine, May 3 1990.) He states that according to one study by Kochen and McCurdy, penile cancer is essentially zero among circumcised men, but that there are 2.2 cases of penile cancer for every 100,000 intact men. As the incidence of breast cancer among women is more than ten thousand times as common as penile cancer is among men, then by Dr. Schoen's logic, we should begin a campaign to amputate the breasts of all girls at birth in order to prevent them from getting breast cancer.
The time to acknowledge that men must have the legal right to choose for themselves is now.
Statistically, the idea of amputating baby girls' breasts to reduce their chance of getting breast cancer later in life is less ridiculous, but neither more cruel nor unnecessary than circumcising a baby boy is, yet many otherwise intelligent professionals feel circumcision is harmless because the child will not remember the experience. But these same professionals are well aware that one experience of sexual abuse in a woman's infancy can have a profoundly disastrous effect on her entire adult emotional life, and that these effects are often worse and more insidious when the experience is buried and forgotten so deeply that only through intensive counselling can she remember it.
Is ordinary human compassion, sensitivity, and common sense sufficient for us to understand that the painful, invasive amputation of a highly sensitive, functional body part from a tender new born baby boy is equal in violence and pain, emotionally and physically, to any possible rape of a girl? Or will it take a ten billion dollar study lasting 25 years, and the continuing abuse of millions of baby boys?
The U.S. is the only western country that routinely inflicts the atrocity of circumcision upon helpless baby boys, and it is past time that we face the full enormity of the horror that we have perpetrated upon the flower of our manhood for nearly three quarters of a century. The time to acknowledge that men must have the legal right to choose for themselves is now.
I ask all men to step forward and reclaim the sacred birthright for all men to the privacy of their own bodies, and end this obscene attack upon male sexuality.
Listen, brother of mine: Raise a child with pain and fear, and the world reaps fear, pain, violence, and unending war. Raise a child with love, and love is the final reward for us all. Babies and children need nurture and love, and gentle hugs and kisses, not torture and mutilation.
Brother of mine, which will you choose?