Wednesday, August 22, 2012
In anticipation of the new AAP statement on circumcision of infants
In anticipation of your new statement on circumcision of infants, I feel the need to request that you carefully consider the ethical issues surrounding male genital cutting.
Even if we were to agree on the potential health benefits of circumcision, we also need to assess the potential (and not trivial) risks of performing an amputation on infants, and more important, the benefits of not being circumcised. Has the AAP ever studied the benefits of not being circumcised?
The document "Neonatal Male circumcision global review" of UNAIDS states that "some of the serious complications that can occur during the procedure include death from excess bleeding and amputation of the glans penis. Postoperative complications include the formation of skin bridges between the shaft and the glans, infection, urinary retention (this has caused deaths), meatal ulcer, impetigo, fistulas, loss of penile sensitivity, sexual dysfunction and oedema of the glans." They also acknowledge that the frequency of complications is "underestimated because events occuring after the discharge are not captured [in the discharge sheet]" and sometimes are treated at a different hospital.
Circumcision of infants remove the child's possibility of making a choice over his own body, as what is removed cannot be reattached and in doing so, the form and functions of the genitals are permanently modified.
When you take all these variables in consideration, it's clear that circumcising an infant is not only dangerous and irresponsible, but it's also unethical and a violation of the human rights of the baby that will grow into an adult. Parental consent cannot be valid when there is no medical need and the medical non-therapeutic intervention exposes the child to the risks of death, infections and permanent damage to their genitalia.
Nobody owns another person's body, nobody has the right to sign away a part of their child's body.
That circumcision remains a very emotional topic is easy to prove when you approach the thousands of males who wish they had not been circumcised as infants. Have you ever talked to them? Have you ever read their testimonials? If not, I would advise you to go to this page to read real testimonials of real men, the victims of this inhumane procedure: http://foreskin-restoration.net/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=61
Once you have been there is not easy to ignore the anger, desperation, sadness, depression and medical issues of all these men that you failed to protect when they were most vulnerable. The cases keep adding up. Will your new statement protect the upcoming generation, or will it accumulate more horror stories like the ones in this forum?
Please look outside the limits of your own organization. Read the letter that 140 lawyers and doctors submitted to the German government, which states that " it can be said from a medical point of view clearly, that there are no medical reasons for the removal of a healthy foreskin with a healthy little boy incapable of giving consent. All listed medical-prophylactic reasons (for example, prevention of sexually transmitted infections) can - if desired by the victim - a circumcision realized in age of consent." (http://foreskin-restoration.net/forum/showthread.php?t=11881), and stop following the steps of J.H.Kellogg, whose theories have been long disproven but whose effects we are still experiencing one hundred years later.
I know that I'm asking something difficult. In order to stop cutting babies, we have to accept that being circumcised might have robbed us from something that we will never experience. We have to accept that we might have been harmed on a deeper level than we even know. Many circumcised men don't consider themselves mutilated. You said it yourselves in regards to female genital mutilation ("“mutilation” is an inflammatory term that tends to foreclose communication and that fails to respect the experience of the many women who have had their genitals altered and who do not perceive themselves as “mutilated.”" http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/125/5/1088.full), but let's call things the way they are. If circumcision was forced upon a non-consenting adult, he would have every right to consider himself mutilated and victim of an aggravated assault - so why would it be any different just because the procedure was performed during the early infancy? A parental consent form does not make the mutilation any less real or the scar any softer, or the severed nerves any less severed. Or the dead babies any less dead.
Think of the babies who die after an unneeded intervention. Think of the children who grow with damaged genitalia. Think of the teenagers who are suddently horrified when they learn that their parents authorized a doctor to cut part of their most private part. Think of the men who can't even experience a satisfactory sexual life because of an operation performed in their first days of their life.
Europe is walking in one direction, the defense of the rights of those most vulnerable, the children. In what direction are you walking?