Originally published in The Messenger (The Santa Monica Mountains News and Arts Publication December 18, 1997 - January 15, 1998 issue. Fax: 310/455-1304.)
Cutting off parts of an infant's genitalia without a compelling medical reason is sexual child abuse. Therefore, after over 20 years of embarrassed debate, lawmakers in California and Washington DC have recently passed laws making the genital mutilation of female humans under the age of 18 a felony.
Our lumpen lawmakers should reread the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of our Constitution. Because, without any rational basis for this blatant gender discrimination, male American babies continue to routinely suffer from needless amputation of parts of their penises at birth with still no legal protection from their torturers.
Whether done by a delivery room doctor or a religious practitioner, such as a mohel, medically unnecessary circumcision of minors, male or female, is nothing more or less than a traditional sounding euphemism for institutionalized child sexual abuse and is a clear violation of fundamental human rights. Those who argue "male circumcision is not as bad as female circumcision" need to understand the issue is not severity. The issue is sovereignty.
Circumcision is medically unjustified penis reduction surgery. It is a cure for nothing, and it is needlessly cruel; anesthetics are almost never used. Among western industrialized nations America stands alone in continuing this primitive ritualistic practice of genital mutilation. Europeans consider it barbaric. It is forced radical surgery, without consent, on a helpless little victim. It is an excruciatingly painful and crippling partial amputation of the infants penis which frequently results in immediate and serious complications and always results in permanent disfigurement and long term physical and emotional debilitation and suffering. Worldwide hundreds of babies die annually in terror from shock and from infections or loss of blood resulting from this senseless barbarity.
For instance, last year in Eastern Cape, a small province in South Africa, there were 34 deaths, 12 penis mutilations requiring plastic and reconstructive or gender-switching surgery, and 743 patients admitted to hospitals with septic wounds - all from botched circumcisions. We don't know for sure how many children die each year in the U.S. from botched circumcisions. Marilyn Milos of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) said she thinks "between 2 and 200 plus infants die each year in the U.S. Most bleed to death and are not reported as deaths from circumcision." Last year only six were listed as official, because circumcision deaths are routinely covered up by the collusion of all parties involved - including the parents.
As a matter of perspective, last year just two weeks after news reports that six children had died in the U.S. due to air-bag trauma there were congressional hearings on whether air-bags should be outlawed. (Never mind that approximately 1600 adult lives were saved by air-bags last year or that it is illegal to have kids in car seats in the front seat facing forward.) But let the same or greater number of kids die at the hands of masked surgeons performing a ridiculous ancient tribal mutilation and the silence is deafening. (Never mind that not one life has ever been saved by this operation.)
Just like female circumcision, male circumcision is both a sadistic attempt to diminish youthful sexuality and an anachronistic tribal marking ritual. It should be criminalized and punishable by long term imprisonment and, for the savages who financially profit from abusing infants in this way, the medical doctors, loss of license to practice medicine for life. It is a malicious and unjustifiable violation of a physician's Hippocratic oath - which is to "do no harm". As Doctor Robert S. Van Howe, MD FAAP recently said at a gathering of fellow Pediatricians - "It is a procedure desperately looking for an indication". Yet most in the American medical profession still view circumcision almost as a cosmetic sacrament, not to be discussed rationally. There seems to be a powerful need on the part of doctors who were circumcised either to bow to peer pressure or perhaps to get revenge and "pass on the pain". Could this be the genesis of our society's love affair with mindless violence?
What we flippantly call "the foreskin" is in actuality a complex system of four anatomically distinct parts. Each has a specific role in the full and healthy functioning of the human penis, an organ that isn't even completely developed until several years after birth when the synechia naturally detaches itself from the foreskin and glans.
For a hundred years the scientific facts have shown circumcision to be an unmitigated fraud. According to conclusions in a recent research abstract of "Circumcision In The United States", a study of the evidence done by Edward Laumann, PhD. et al at the University of Chicago, "circumcision provides no discernible benefit" and "circumcision may in fact increase the likelihood of sexually transmitted disease (STD) contraction". Circumcised American males have the highest incidence of STD's in the western world. The researchers did find, however, that circumcised men spank the monkeyd more and were more likely to engage in oral and anal sex. An ironic finding given that circumcision was once touted to prevent the "evil of self-gratification."
Tim Hammond, of the National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males (NOHARMM), says that males that have been circumcised as adults universally report an approximately 40% loss in sensitivity. The obvious conclusion would seem to be that the two facts are affiliated. Hammond explains that "amputating the human foreskin externalizes the glans, leaving its moist mucosal surface unprotected and subject to drying out and keratinization, which leads to decreased sensitivity (and therefore to) behaviors offering more stimulation than vaginal intercourse." Although non-surgical restoration is possible, it is a slow process and can never replace the estimated 20,000 specialized nerve endings that were lost nor the frenar band.
Given today's huge body of evidence and scientific knowledge on this issue there is no longer any reason for doctors to be ignorant of the facts. Any doctor who performs this mutilation at this point in time is not a scientist and not a healer but might fairly be called a witch doctor or even a psychopath. Strong language? Consider this: if a sadistic child molester cut off part of an infant's body with his pocket knife just to hear that baby scream he would be considered a monster. But in fact he would cause no more pain and suffering and ultimately do no more harm than a Harvard Medical School graduate does when he uses his skill with a scalpel to surgically mutilate a baby's penis. Remember neither the child molester or the doctor use anesthesia in their "procedures". So-called medical doctors for scores of years have stubbornly maintained the wanton myth that "a newborn baby's nervous system is undeveloped and he cannot feel pain."
John M. Foley, MD describes his observations: "The circumcision of a newborn boy is a spectacle so appalling and revolting in its cruelty that, on their first encounter with the ordeal, many robust medical students faint. The infant's arms and legs are tied down securely spread-eagled onto a molded Circumstraint Board, with his genitals exposed. The foreskin opening in a newborn is normally very small, to prevent entry of foreign matter. The first stage of circumcision is to grasp the foreskin with forceps and widen this opening. Since the foreskin is attached to the glans by a still developing membrane called the synechia this requires the foreskin and synechia to be torn apart. Naturally this is excruciatingly painful and the infant screams in terror and pain. Next, ignoring the infant's trauma, forceps are used to pull the entire foreskin and much of the penile shaft skin through a clamp, the clamp's screw is tightened and left in place for several minutes for crush to take place. The tissue is then slit and trimmed with a scalpel. From 50% to as much as 80% of the total penile skin is removed. In this country anesthetics are rarely used, they are considered unnecessary. The infant frantically struggles and screams and often vomits and defecates, before lapsing into unconsciousness." From which some never recover. The doctor then bills from $150.00 to $500.00 for his abnormalizing accomplishment. Medicaid pays $150.00. Circumcision and the commercial selling of foreskins is a lucrative billion dollar a year industry in the U.S. Several American companies use processed foreskins to manufacture medical products.
A minor "routine procedure"? Tell that to the Minnesota family whose newborn baby boy was "routinely" circumcised last year by their family physician and, in shock from the pain, never took another breath and died unnoticed by the offending "doctor". Or tell it to British Gaines of Austin Texas who just buried her one-week-old son, Jeremie. During the circumcision "procedure" at Texas Children's Hospital mortally traumatized Jeremie stopped breathing, his heart then stopped, he went into a coma and died. Or tell it to Stacy Stroble whose son Allen Ervin died after 6 years in a coma. Little Allen was brain damaged from oxygen deprivation during a "routine circumcision". According to Paul Fleiss, MD, MPH, in the Winter 1997 issue of Mothering magazine, "circumcision shatters the bond of trust" between mother and child and it is not uncommon for "circumcised babies to withdraw into a kind of semi-coma that lasts for days or even weeks."
Factually speaking circumcision is medical quackery, a scientific hoax, and a barbarous violation of human rights. Religious dogma aside, the psychosexual pathology of why this horrible practice persists in so-called civilized communities is probably encoded in the genes of aggression and in the perversion of sadism not unknown among medical doctors. Scientifically speaking, it is clear that the notion that the human male is an "inferior design"- the only mammal in creation born with a congenital deformity that needs immediate surgical amputation - turns evolution on its head. One only needs to see the shocked reaction on someone's face when it is recommended that they have their dog or horse circumcised to understand just how absurd the whole business is. The foreskin system, which makes up the only movable part of the human penis, is no more a "mistake of nature" than are human eyelids or ears and it should be left alone.
Parents and doctors should protect infants from harm and keep their bodies intact. The sovereignty of all human babies should be respected.
If parents and doctors cannot be trusted to protect babies from mutilation, then the law must. Congress must insure that doctors and others honor this basic human right. As they have done to protect female babies, Congress should immediately pass an equal protection law making the mutilation of any baby, male or female, a felony.
For more information on stopping infant circumcision contact:
National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers
Marilyn Fayre Milos, National Director 415/488-9883 http://www.nocirc.org
National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males
Tim Hammond, Founder