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Navigating Parenthood: When Parents Disagree on Circumcision

Navigating Parenthood: When Parents Disagree on Circumcision

The arrival of a new baby often brings to light differences in parenting philosophies. One of the more contentious decisions is whether to circumcise their newborn son or leave him intact. This subject can spark intense debate between parents, particularly when one is staunchly against circumcision. While promoting “This Penis Business” and “Please, Don’t Cut The Baby” at the recent Tucson Book Festival, we were asked about this exact dilemma by several different attendees, prompting discussions on how parents can navigate this disagreement.

The decision to circumcise often stems from cultural, religious, or aesthetic reasons, but increasingly, parents are questioning the necessity of this procedure. Those opposed to circumcision argue that it’s a non-consensual act that removes a functional part of the body — an argument that’s backed by countless studies and statistics. They often point to the fact that the foreskin is not a birth defect; it’s a natural part of the male anatomy, serving protective and sensory purposes.

The Dilemma of Disagreement Between Parents on the Circumcision Decision

Nurturing Understanding Through Compassionate Dialogue

Navigating the sensitive topic of circumcision within families often calls for a deep level of understanding and empathy. It’s not merely about stating one’s stance but about opening a channel for heartfelt communication where both parents feel heard and respected. When disagreements arise, it’s essential to explore the roots of these differing views, whether they stem from cultural beliefs, medical perspectives, or personal convictions about bodily autonomy and consent. An effective conversation involves expressing one’s concerns about the risks, pain, and ethical considerations and actively listening to and understanding the other parent’s viewpoint. This mutual respect sets a foundation for decision-making that places the child’s welfare and rights at the forefront, ensuring that any choice is made with the child’s best interest in heart and mind.

Read the 7 Things New Parents Should Know About Foreskin Removal with your partner here.

The Power of Informed Decision-Making

In the discourse on circumcision, knowledge is a potent tool for advocacy. The intricacies of the foreskin’s anatomy, its physiological purposes, and the brutality of circumcision are often not common knowledge among expectant or new parents. By introducing well-researched information, including scientific studies, expert analyses, and personal accounts from healthcare professionals who question the necessity of routine circumcision, parents can be better equipped to make informed decisions. Education on this matter sheds light on the potential immediate and long-term medical implications and ethical considerations, empowering parents to grasp the permanent consequences and drawbacks from a place of knowledge rather than tradition or societal pressure.

Empathy and Experience: A Nurse’s Personal Strategy

The anecdote of a nurse from the Tucson Book Festival brings a unique and impactful perspective to the circumcision debate. By encouraging her partner to be present during their child’s circumcision and to participate in the aftercare actively, she provided an opportunity for him to witness firsthand the realities of the procedure and its aftermath on their newborn. This approach goes beyond theoretical discussions, directly confronting the physical and emotional ramifications. Taking an approach like this has the potential to influence a parent’s viewpoint, making the abstract debates over circumcision starkly real. Witnessing the vulnerability of their child and the tangible effects of the circumcision decision can catalyze a deeper reflection on the practice, its lack of necessity, and its consequences, fostering a more empathetic understanding of the issue at hand.

The Transformative Power of Witnessing

For many parents, the act of witnessing circumcision is a deeply impactful event that shifts perspectives from theoretical debates to the palpable reality of their child’s experience. Observing the procedure exposes the immediate physical distress it imposes on an infant, challenging the abstract notion of consent and prompting a visceral reaction that can redefine parental instincts and decisions. This first-hand encounter with the procedure’s immediate effects often serves as a critical juncture, compelling parents to reconsider their stance. It illuminates the stark contrast between the decision made in the quiet of a doctor’s office and their child’s loud cries of discomfort, fostering a protective urge that leans towards preserving the child’s physical integrity from the outset.

Instead of ever needing to see a child’s pain firsthand, you could also share the true stories we’ve collected about the after-effects of circumcision with your partner. 

The Revelatory Nature of Aftercare

The period following circumcision offers parents a continuous, unvarnished look at the consequences of their decision, making the experience of aftercare a compelling argument against the procedure itself. Engaging in the daily care of the circumcision wound, parents confront the physical repercussions and the emotional toll of seeing their newborn in discomfort. This ongoing care routine serves as a potent reminder of the procedure’s invasiveness, challenging the normalization of circumcision and encouraging a reassessment of its necessity (reminder: it is rarely ever medically necessary). As parents navigate this challenging period, many find their initial justifications for the procedure confronted by the reality of their child’s pain and vulnerability, leading to a deeper questioning of the practice and its prevalence.

Championing the Right to Choose

The dialogue surrounding circumcision is increasingly focusing on the concept of informed choice, with advocates urging a reconsideration of who should make such a significant decision about bodily autonomy. The argument posits that circumcision, a procedure with lasting physical and psychological implications, should be a personal choice made by the individual most affected by its outcome. By advocating for delaying the procedure until the child can express their informed consent, proponents emphasize respect for bodily integrity and autonomy. This perspective invites a broader discussion about medical ethics, children’s rights, and the role of parental decision-making, encouraging a shift towards practices that prioritize the long-term well-being and consent of the child above cultural, religious, or familial expectations.

Cultivating Unity in the Face of Disagreement

Parenting is inherently a collaborative venture, where the harmony of mutual respect and congruent values is crucial for navigating the complex landscape of raising a child. Within this partnership, disagreements emerge as catalysts for deeper understanding and personal growth. The discourse surrounding circumcision transcends the simplicity of choice; it becomes a platform for advocating the rights of the child, nurturing an environment where future autonomy is protected, and societal pressures are critically examined. This conversation demands a delicate balance, encouraging parents to look beyond prevailing customs and consider the broader implications of consent and bodily integrity in shaping their child’s identity and rights.

Navigating the Crossroads of Decision-Making

The deliberation over circumcision stands as a testament to the intricate challenges parents face, where ethical considerations, cultural traditions, and personal beliefs intersect. This decision has consequences on the child’s well-being and sense of autonomy, underscoring the need for a thoughtful, informed approach. The insights shared during the Tucson Book Festival shed light on a constructive path toward consensus, advocating for a direct engagement with the realities of circumcision. Such engagement is pivotal in cultivating empathy, enabling parents to transcend their initial positions and unite in a choice that honors the child’s dignity and bodily autonomy. In parenting, where decisions are imbued with profound impacts, embracing empathy, respect, and a commitment to the child’s best interests becomes the guiding principle. It is through this lens that parents can navigate the complexities of circumcision and other challenging topics, ensuring that the child’s welfare remains at the heart of their shared journey – and that neither parent makes a decision that forces them to live with regret.

10 of The Most Horrifying and Heartbreaking Circumcision Stories You’ll Ever Read

10 of The Most Horrifying and Heartbreaking Circumcision Stories You’ll Ever Read

In the discourse surrounding health, autonomy, and cultural practices, circumcision stands as one of the most polarizing and debated topics. The call for reevaluation of this deeply embedded, completely irreversible, permanent procedure stems from concerns over consent, bodily integrity, and the lack of necessity of this surgery in modern medicine. This article aims to shed light on the critical arguments against routine circumcision, highlighting the importance of preserving bodily autonomy, questioning traditional medical practices, and promoting a more informed decision-making process for parents and individuals alike.

As we consider the reasons to reconsider circumcision, it’s essential to approach this conversation with empathy, open-mindedness, and a commitment to understanding the benefits of remaining intact. The goal is to inform and advocate for a future where every individual’s right to bodily integrity is respected and upheld.

Horrifying and Heartbreaking Circumcision Stories

10) Lew Rose — Death of A Son

In the shadow of a profound loss, Lew Rose reflected on a decision made decades earlier, one that irrevocably altered his son’s life: the choice of infant circumcision. This choice, made with a blend of societal pressure and the young father’s naivety, became a source of unspoken tension, a silent rift that, though never fully explored, lingered beneath the surface. The father, now carrying the weight of his son’s untimely passing, had to grapple with the realization that his first act as a parent was one of irreversible change to his son’s body, made without consent, driven by cultural norms rather than medical necessity.

“What possible ethical justification was there for me to commit to permanently surgically removing healthy tissue from another person’s body without his permission? Being born with a functional foreskin is not a medical emergency, and therefore is not justification for surgical intervention initiated by me as a parent, doctors, hospitals, insurance companies or anyone else.”  — Lew Rose

This acknowledgment led him down a path of deep remorse and self-forgiveness, transforming his grief into a commitment to advocate for bodily autonomy and the rights of individuals to make informed choices about their own bodies. Through his poignant story, he extends a heartfelt apology to his son and all those who have experienced similar loss without their consent, hoping to ignite a conversation about respect, consent, and the inherent value of every individual’s bodily integrity.

Click here to read Lew Rose’s full story. 

9)  Cassie Parks — A Regret Mom

Cassie Parks went through the traumatic experience of her son Jude’s forced retraction, a moment that haunts her to this day. Despite the initial intent of a routine medical check-up for Jude’s sickness, the situation quickly escalated into a nightmare when a nurse forcibly retracted his foreskin, causing immense pain and trauma to the two-month-old. Cassie’s recount of Jude’s screams, the sight of his injured self, and the subsequent pain he endured is a chilling testament to the dangers of medical misinformation and the lack of awareness around proper genital care.

“I knew forced retraction does happen, but it didn’t occur to me that it could happen in a children’s hospital. It wasn’t even in my head space. It’s one of those things you don’t think will ever happen to you or your loved ones.” — Cassie Parks

Cassie’s story is not just about the physical harm done to Jude but also highlights a mother’s agony, guilt, and the emotional turmoil that followed. It’s a reminder of the vulnerability of our little ones in the hands of healthcare practices that may not always be in their best interest. The judgment and misinformation she faced from medical staff added insult to injury, underscoring the pervasive myths surrounding circumcision and foreskin care.

Driven by the pain of the incident and the desire to prevent such suffering for others, Cassie took legal action, aiming for justice and enforcing a change in hospital protocols regarding foreskin care. Her journey from a traumatized parent to an intactivist advocate underscores the resilience and courage it takes to challenge deeply ingrained medical practices and societal norms. 

Click here to read Cassie Parks’ full story.

8) Robert Clover Johnson — Long-term Circumcision Trauma

Robert Clover Johnson’s journey of self-discovery and healing spanned decades, beginning with a seemingly simple exercise in a Bioenergetics/Primal Therapy session that unexpectedly unlocked a torrent of long-suppressed emotions. As a quiet library assistant, Johnson embarked on this path, not fully understanding the depths of unresolved feelings that lay dormant within him, a journey prompted by a friend’s intuition that he had unexpressed feelings needing an outlet. This led him from moments of unexplained emotional release during therapy to a startling revelation in his later years, triggered by a tender moment with his wife that unearthed a deeply buried memory of circumcision trauma experienced as an infant.

“My genital integrity, I learned, had been brutally and agonizingly violated shortly after birth. Most of my erogenous nerves and the sensitive sheathe that protect the mucous membrane of the glans had been ripped and severed from my penis.” — Robert Clover Johnson

Johnson’s story is an exploration of the long-term emotional and physical impacts of neonatal circumcision, a practice he had never questioned until a visceral reaction led him to confront a truth that had been concealed for sixty years. His subsequent research into the practice left him disillusioned by the realization of what was done to him without his consent and mourning the loss of what could have been—a natural part of his body and, perhaps, a different relationship with his own sexuality and comfort.

Click here to read Robert Clover Johnson’s full story.

7)  Paul G., M.D. — A Victim of Social Norms 

At the tender age of eight, Paul was unknowingly subjected to circumcision, a decision made by his father under the guise of societal conformity and an ill-conceived notion of belonging. This invasive procedure, performed without his consent or understanding, severed part of his body and his trust and emotional connection with his father, leaving a chasm that could never be bridged.

“I can still remember waking up after surgery in agony from pain radiating from my damaged penis, the pain I can still vividly recollect and which will occasionally reoccur even at age 72. I was too young at age eight to verbalize my emotional distress, but I knew that I had been irrevocably injured.” — Paul G., M.D.

Years of repressed memories, denial, and attempts at self-reconstruction followed, highlighting Paul’s desperate attempts to reclaim a part of his identity that was forcefully taken from him. His journey through medical school further solidified his stance against non-consensual circumcision, even as he navigated the complexities of medical practices that often go unquestioned.

Click here to read Paul G’s full story.

6) Damon Favor — Fighting to Keep his Son Intact

Damon Favor’s journey as a father and an intactivist is a testament to the courage and resilience required to challenge deeply ingrained medical and cultural practices. From the moment of his own awakening to the harsh realities of circumcision, Damon was determined that his children would remain intact, spared from a procedure he fundamentally opposed. However, this decision set the stage for numerous confrontations that Damon and his wife would face, first with the healthcare system, which aggressively advocated for circumcision, and later with various caregivers and educators unfamiliar with caring for an intact child.

“The fight to protect my son didn’t stop when we left the hospital after his birth. Although he was never forcibly retracted, one of his pediatricians wanted to. I had warned my wife about doctors who would try to retract.” — Damon Favor

The relentless pressure from hospital staff to circumcise his newborn son, despite explicit instructions to the contrary, highlights the pervasive nature of this practice in American hospitals. Damon’s unwavering vigilance and insistence on always accompanying his son underscore the lengths to which he had to go to protect his child’s bodily autonomy. His experience with his daughter further illuminates the assumption of circumcision as the norm within the medical community, an assumption Damon countered with informed refusal and advocacy for his children’s right to remain whole.

Damon’s narrative also sheds light on the broader challenges of raising intact children in a society where circumcision is widely practiced. The need for constant education and advocacy, even among family and caregivers, underscores the pervasive lack of understanding and respect for genital integrity in the United States. Damon’s move to Italy and the stark contrast in attitudes towards circumcision he encountered there further emphasize the cultural specificity of this practice and the ignorance that fuels its continuation in the U.S.

Click here to read Damon Favor’s full story. 

5) Marilyn Milos — Nurse Turned Intactivist 

For over three decades, Marilyn Milos, RN, has been a steadfast advocate in the fight against forced circumcision, driven by a moment that forever changed her life. As a young nurse witnessing a circumcision, she experienced an emotional upheaval that would propel her into lifelong activism. The primal scream of a baby undergoing the procedure without any medical necessity, coupled with the realization of her own sons’ pain, ignited a fire within Marilyn that led to the foundation of NOCIRC, now Genital Autonomy – America, and her significant role in Intact America.

“The doctor looked at me and said, “There is no medical reason for doing this!” This baby was being tortured, and I just realized what had been done to my sons and that my own doctor had lied to me.” — Marilyn Milos

Marilyn’s journey is one of relentless determination and courage. Facing adversity, professional isolation, and the daunting challenge of changing entrenched societal norms, she never wavered in her commitment to protecting the most vulnerable. Her story is a powerful testament to the impact one individual can have in challenging and changing harmful practices. The establishment of Intact America marked a significant milestone, elevating the intactivist movement with unprecedented resources and outreach capabilities, thanks to the support of a generous donor moved by Marilyn’s dedication.

Marilyn’s tireless work underscores a fundamental ethical question that remains unanswered by medical organizations and professionals who continue to support circumcision: Why is it acceptable to alter the bodies of those who cannot consent? Her advocacy, alongside Intact America, challenges misinformation, confronts profit-driven motives, and advocates for the rights of all individuals to bodily integrity and autonomy.

Click here to read Marilyn Milos’ full story.

4) David Arnold — Lifelong Circumcision Trauma 

Born in 1942 and circumcised under distressing circumstances, David carried the unconscious memory of this early pain into adulthood, a hidden scar that influenced his relationships, career choices, and psychological health. It wasn’t until a deeply emotional conversation with his mother at the age of 43 that the truth of his circumcision — a procedure that nearly cost him part of his penis and was dismissively justified by a doctor — came to light. This revelation was a pivotal moment, offering clarity and understanding of his lifelong struggles with trust, security, and physical pain.

“She named and swore at the obstetrician, telling me how he had nearly cut off the end of my penis and then sewn it back on with five stitches. She exclaimed how the doctor had insisted that newborns did not feel pain, that the circumcision process did not hurt and could not be the cause of my distress in her frantic attempts to feed me.” — David Allen

Choosing to leave a promising career in the Coast Guard, David began healing and discovering himself through depth psychology and body-centered psychotherapy. This path led him to become a practitioner himself. His experiences underline the critical importance of recognizing and addressing the psychological and physical consequences of infant circumcision, a practice still widely accepted and unchallenged in many parts of society.

Click here to read David Arnold’s full story. 

3)  Sergio Serratto — Challenging the Circumcision Status Quo 

In the whirlwind of emotions and exhaustion that accompanied the birth of his first child, Sergio Serratto faced an unexpected and nearly automatic proposition for his newborn son’s circumcision—a procedure he hadn’t even considered and was opposed to. His story highlights a pivotal moment of realization and assertion of his parental right to protect his son from an unnecessary and culturally ingrained medical practice. This experience opened Sergio’s eyes to the prevalence of routine circumcision in the United States, a stark contrast to his South American roots, where circumcision is rare and performed mainly for religious reasons.

“You trust the doctor. You trust that her advice is sound. The moment the baby is born is no time to discuss circumcision for the first time. Perhaps the timing is no coincidence.” — Sergio Serratto

Serratto’s encounter underscores the critical need for informed consent and thorough discussion about circumcision well before the vulnerable and overwhelming moments following birth. It raises concerns about how non-English-speaking families, or those unfamiliar with the American medical system’s norms, might inadvertently consent to a procedure they don’t understand or want for their children.

As an advocate with Intact America, Serratto is determined to challenge the status quo and spread awareness about the importance of bodily autonomy and the right of every child to remain intact. Through his work, he aims to ensure that parents are fully informed and prepared to protect their children’s rights, challenging deeply entrenched cultural practices and advocating for change. Serratto’s journey from a new father caught off-guard to a passionate intactivist exemplifies the power of personal experience to inspire advocacy and the pursuit of societal change for the protection of future generations.

Click here to read Sergio Serratto’s full story. 

2) Marci Eggers — Circumcision Nearly Killed Father

Marci Eggers’ journey to deciding against circumcision for her son is a testament to the importance of informed parenting decisions and the enduring impact of family narratives. The traumatic story of her father’s circumcision, shared by her grandmother, served as a stark warning against the procedure’s potential dangers and the devastating consequences of medical overreach and lack of consent. This deeply personal family history, societal pressures, and conflicting opinions set the stage for Marci’s thoughtful and thorough exploration of the subject when she found out she was expecting a boy.

“When she found out that I wasn’t planning on getting the procedure done on my baby, she made it her duty to try to change my mind, bombarding me with questions about why I thought it was a good idea. I explained to her that I had done my research and found that there is no medical reason to have this done.” — Marci Eggers

Determined to make an educated decision, Marci delved into extensive research, examining arguments from both sides of the circumcision debate. Her findings led her to the conclusion that many of the purported benefits of circumcision were unfounded and that maintaining her son’s bodily integrity was the right choice for her family. This decision, however, was challenging. Family discussions revealed deeply ingrained beliefs and societal norms, highlighting the complexities of navigating parental decisions in the face of external pressures. Despite attempts to sway her, Marci’s steadfast resolve in her decision underscores the impact that access to information and support can have on parental choices. 

Click here to read Marci Eggers’ full story. 

1) Elise Wicklund — A Different Choice   

Elise Wicklund’s journey through the heartache of her son Paxton’s circumcision to the empowered decision not to circumcise her younger son, Jaxon, is a poignant tale of pain, enlightenment, and redemption. Despite societal and familial pressures, Elise’s initial intuition against circumcision was overridden by external voices, leading to a decision that would bring profound regret and sorrow. Witnessing Paxton’s suffering and enduring her own emotional torment plunged her into a dark abyss of depression, a place where the weight of guilt and isolation felt unbearable.

“But with the first diaper change, all my fears were realized. It was no “snip”: It was an open wound. Paxton developed a painful ulcer, adhesions, and other complications that lasted a long time. He cried with every diaper change. If I went anywhere near his genitals, he would look at me in pure horror. I was sick and heartbroken. I didn’t let anybody change him but me.” — Elise Wicklund

However, Elise’s story is also one of immense hope and transformation. The birth of her daughter shortly after Paxton’s ordeal and the unwavering decision to leave Jaxon intact marked the beginning of her healing process. Through activism and connecting with others who shared her experience, Elise found a powerful outlet for her pain and a path toward healing. Her involvement in protests and advocacy work, bolstered by the support of organizations like Intact America, empowered her to reclaim her voice and stand firm in her convictions.

Elise’s experience reminds us that brothers don’t have to “match” and that the true match lies in the courage to protect and honor our children’s bodily autonomy. Through her journey, Elise has become a beacon of strength and hope for other parents navigating this deeply personal decision, showing that it’s possible to emerge from darkness into a place of empowerment, healing, and advocacy.

Click here to read Elise Wicklund’s full story.

Interested in telling your story? Send an email to [email protected] with a brief summary of what you would like to write about. Each story is about 500 words. You can write it yourself or with the help of our Voices editor, Sally Parker.

Public Opinion on Circumcision: Can Intactivists Hit A Tipping Point?

Public Opinion on Circumcision: Can Intactivists Hit A Tipping Point?

Few topics spark as much debate as circumcision. This irreversible surgery, with roots deeply embedded in cultural, religious, and medical traditions around the globe, is facing increasing scrutiny. At the heart of this scrutiny is a movement known as “intactivism,” which opposes routine circumcision on the grounds of bodily autonomy and human rights. This article delves into the injustices of circumcision, the rise of the intactivist movement, and whether shifting public opinion can reach a tipping point to influence policy and cultural norms significantly.

Understanding Circumcision

Circumcision’s history spans several cultures and millennia. In some societies, it’s a passage into manhood; in others, it’s viewed as a religious rite. However, the medical community’s stance is nuanced. While some health organizations claim potential benefits, they also recognize that these supposed benefits (even if they were true, which they are not) are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. In fact, the consequences of circumcision vastly outweigh any purported reasons. 

The divergence between circumcision as a medical procedure and a cultural practice is stark. In many Western countries, the procedure has been performed routinely without any legitimate medical rationale, leading to debates about necessity and consent.

The Rise of the Intactivist Movement

The intactivist movement, advocating against non-consensual infant circumcision, has grown from a whisper to a roar over recent decades. Its origins, rooted in advocating for bodily integrity and informed consent, reflect a broader societal shift towards questioning traditional practices and authority. High-profile legal battles, shifts in medical opinion, and the mobilization of communities online have marked the movement’s key successes.

Organizations and activists within this movement have diverse backgrounds but share common goals. They’ve employed education, advocacy, and legal challenges to advance their cause, aiming to shift public opinion and policy on a global scale.

Shifting Public Opinion about Circumcision

Current public opinion on circumcision is influenced by tradition, circumcision misinformation, and evolving attitudes. Surveys and studies indicate a gradual but significant shift, with more parents questioning the necessity of the procedure and opting to leave their children intact. This change is fueled by improved access to information, changing social norms, and the vocal advocacy of intactivist groups.

Personal narratives play a crucial role in this shift. Testimonials from individuals who have been harmed or affected by circumcision or who are grateful for the choice to remain intact resonate deeply, challenging long-held beliefs and sparking conversations about consent, autonomy, and bodily integrity.

The Role of Social Media and Advocacy

Social media has been a double-edged sword for the intactivist movement. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have enabled advocates to spread their message far and wide, connect with like-minded individuals, and organize events with unprecedented efficiency. Successful campaigns have leveraged viral content, hashtags, and online petitions to draw attention to their cause.

However, these platforms also present challenges, including the spread of misinformation and the polarization of discourse. Intactivists have had to navigate these waters carefully, balancing passion with accuracy and openness to dialogue.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

The ethical debate around circumcision centers on the rights of the child versus cultural and parental rights. Intactivists argue that non-consensual infant circumcision violates principles of medical ethics, including autonomy and informed consent. Legal battles in various countries have sought to challenge routine circumcision on these grounds, with varying degrees of success.

Comparing global legal standards reveals a spectrum of approaches, from outright bans in some regions to protected cultural practices in others. These legal battles highlight the tension between respecting traditions and protecting individual rights.

Can Intactivism Reach a Tipping Point?

The concept of a tipping point — a small shift in public opinion that leads to significant societal change — offers a hopeful framework for intactivists. Analysis of social movements suggests that, with sufficient momentum, shifts in public policy and cultural norms are possible. Intactivists are working to build this momentum through education, advocacy, and legal challenges, aiming to create a future where circumcision is performed only with informed consent and for legitimate medical reasons.

“According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national rate of newborn circumcision decreased from 64.5% in 1979 to 58.3% in 2010. However, these rates can vary widely by region, with higher rates in the Midwest and lower rates in the West.”

The journey towards this tipping point is complex, requiring a nuanced understanding of cultural, religious, and ethical considerations. Yet, the potential impact of achieving this goal — protecting bodily autonomy and promoting informed choice — drives the movement forward.

The Path Forward for Intactivists

For intactivists, the path forward involves several key strategies:

  • Education and Awareness: Continuing to inform the public about the risks of circumcision and the importance of bodily autonomy.
  • Legal Action: Pursuing legal reforms to protect children’s rights and ensure informed consent for circumcision.
  • Advocacy: Building alliances with healthcare professionals, ethicists, and human rights organizations to amplify their message.

The vision for the future is clear: a world where circumcision is a choice made by informed individuals, not a routine procedure imposed on infants. By navigating the challenges of public opinion, social media, and legal systems, intactivists hope to turn this vision into reality, ensuring future generations have the freedom to choose for themselves.

Intact Penis Care: Embracing Natural Well-being

Intact Penis Care: Embracing Natural Well-being

The argument against circumcision is founded on an unwavering commitment to bodily autonomy and the irrefutable benefits of remaining intact. Across cultures and through the annals of history, circumcision has been practiced for a myriad of reasons — yet today’s enlightened understanding of human rights and medical ethics calls for a staunch opposition to this unnecessary procedure. 

Preserving one’s natural anatomy is a stand against an invasive procedure that lacks conclusive medical justification. Studies reveal that over 80% of the world’s male population remains intact, highlighting a global norm that contradicts the pro-circumcision narrative prevalent in the United States. Furthermore, the foreskin is recognized for its functional importance, housing thousands of nerve endings that enhance sexual pleasure, a fact that underscores the loss experienced through circumcision.

Moreover, the historical context of circumcision in various cultures does not diminish the contemporary understanding that every individual has the inherent right to make informed decisions about their own body. It’s high time to discard outdated practices in favor of respecting bodily autonomy and celebrating the human body’s natural state. The movement against circumcision is gaining momentum, fueled by the undeniable evidence of the benefits of staying intact and the growing recognition of the importance of personal choice in matters of health and well-being.

Circumcision Myths vs. Facts: Dispelling the Misconceptions

Intact penis care involves confronting a myriad of myths that obscure the truth, spreading misinformation and unwarranted fears. From exaggerated claims about hygiene difficulties to baseless health risks, these misconceptions perpetuate stigma and undermine the natural advantages of remaining intact. Below, we dismantle these myths with facts, advocating for a well-informed, anti-circumcision stance that celebrates the simplicity and inherent benefits of embracing one’s natural anatomy.

Myth: “Intact Penises are More Difficult to Clean”

  • Fact: The hygiene of an intact penis is straightforward and uncomplicated. Simple, gentle washing with water is sufficient for cleanliness, negating the myth of excessive effort.

Myth: “Circumcision is Necessary to Prevent STDs”

  • Fact: Effective STD prevention hinges on safe sexual practices, not circumcision status. Major health organizations emphasize condoms and safe sex education as the most reliable methods for STD prevention.

Myth: “Phimosis is a Common Problem That Requires Circumcision”

  • Fact: Phimosis, or the inability to retract the foreskin, typically resolves naturally as a child grows. Only in rare cases where phimosis persists and causes issues are treatments required, which often do not involve circumcision.

Myth: “Circumcision Promotes Better Sexual Health”

  • Fact: The foreskin is a highly sensitive part of the male anatomy, contributing to sexual pleasure. Studies have shown that circumcision can reduce sensitivity, arguing against the notion that circumcision offers sexual health benefits.

Myth: “Circumcision is Widely Accepted and Preferred”

  • Fact: Cultural norms vary greatly, and remaining intact in many parts of the world is the standard. The perception of circumcision as the preferred or normative state is culturally specific and not grounded in universal health or hygiene principles.

To learn more about the profit motives behind the deliberate disinformation campaigns and shaming of the intact penis, read our article about the actual costs of adult circumcision

Health and Hygiene: A Gentle Approach

Basic Care Guidelines

The journey of caring for an intact penis spans from infancy through adulthood, requiring nothing more than a gentle and respectful approach. For infants and young boys, the foreskin should not be forcibly retracted. Instead, cleaning should involve only the external parts. As boys grow and the foreskin naturally becomes retractable, a simple rinse with water during regular bathing is sufficient. This respectful, non-invasive approach ensures comfort and prevents potential harm, highlighting the ease of maintaining cleanliness and health without undue stress.

Dealing with Phimosis and Balanitis

Phimosis and balanitis are conditions often cited in arguments for circumcision. However, understanding these conditions reveals that non-invasive treatments are effective and preferable. Phimosis, a condition where the foreskin cannot be fully retracted over the glans, often resolves naturally over time. In cases where intervention is needed, topical treatments and gentle stretching exercises are successful alternatives. Balanitis, inflammation of the glans, is usually a result of poor hygiene or infection and can be treated with proper cleaning and medication. When understood and addressed with care, these conditions do not necessitate circumcision.

The Truth about UTIs and STDs

While proper hygiene is indeed crucial, the actual risk difference between circumcised and intact individuals is minimal when good hygiene practices are followed. Emphasizing cleanliness and safe sexual practices offers effective risk mitigation, presenting a strong case for the natural approach to health and well-being without the need for surgical intervention.

The Benefits of Remaining Intact

Sexual Health and Pleasure

The foreskin is rich in nerve endings, contributing significantly to sexual sensitivity and pleasure for both the individual and their partner. Its natural lubrication and motion during intercourse enhance the sexual experience, illustrating one of the key benefits of remaining intact. The impact of foreskin on sexual health and satisfaction is a testament to the advantages of embracing one’s natural anatomy.

Psychological Well-being

Choosing to remain intact also supports psychological well-being and body positivity. In a world where body image issues are rampant, embracing natural bodily autonomy fosters self-esteem and confidence. The decision to stay intact, supported by informed care practices, champions the right to personal choice and respect for one’s body.

Medical Perspectives

Healthcare professionals increasingly recognize the advantages of non-circumcision, advocating for informed choice and respecting bodily autonomy. The medical community’s insight underscores the importance of education and understanding in making care decisions that prioritize the individual’s well-being and rights.

Intactivism and Education

Global recognition and appreciation of genital autonomy are fundamentally rooted in education. The enlightenment process involves personal understanding, sharing knowledge about the intrinsic benefits of remaining intact, and advocating for gentle, respectful care practices. By breaking down the facts, debunking myths, and presenting clear, evidence-based information, we foster a culture of informed decision-making that places personal choice and bodily autonomy at its core.

However, the mission doesn’t end with individual enlightenment; it’s about creating ripples across communities, societies, and the world. This is where organizations like Intact America play a pivotal role. Intact America is at the forefront of advocating for genital autonomy, working tirelessly to change societal norms, challenge harmful traditions, and end unnecessary genital surgeries on minors who cannot consent. Our efforts are crucial in amplifying the message that every person has the right to make informed choices about their bodies.

Become an Intactivist: Support Intact America

  • Educate Yourself and Others: Leverage the wealth of resources provided by Intact America to deepen your understanding of genital autonomy and the benefits of remaining intact. Knowledge is power, and sharing this knowledge is instrumental in shifting societal perspectives.
  • Advocate for Change: Use your voice, whether in conversations with friends and family, social media, or community gatherings, to spread the word about the importance of bodily autonomy and the critical work being done by Intact America.
  • Donate or Volunteer: Consider supporting Intact America or volunteering your time. Your contribution can significantly impact the fight for genital autonomy, supporting educational campaigns, legal efforts, and outreach programs.
  • Stay Informed and Engaged: Follow Intact America on social media, subscribe to our newsletter, and stay engaged with our latest campaigns and initiatives. Staying informed about ongoing efforts and successes maintains momentum and inspires continued advocacy.

By aligning with organizations like Intact America, you’re championing a cause that seeks to protect future generations from unwarranted medical interventions. Join us in this vital mission: educate, advocate, and support. Together, we can make a difference, ensuring that personal choice and bodily autonomy are honored and celebrated.

 

Adult Circumcision Cost: The Profit Motives and Hidden Toll

Adult Circumcision Cost: The Profit Motives and Hidden Toll

Circumcision, an irreversible surgical procedure that involves removing the foreskin from the tip of the penis, has been mutilating boys and men for centuries. While infant circumcision is more common, adult circumcision has sparked debates across various viewpoints. 

This article will explore the costs linked to adult circumcision, shedding light on both the explicit financial aspects and the subtler, hidden circumcision costs.

“Of all circumcisions, it’s estimated that only 1 to 2% of boys need circumcision for medical reasons.” 

— John P. Warren, British Journal of Sexual Medicine

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into:

  • The direct financial costs associated with adult circumcision.
  • The hidden expenses and their impact on individuals’ well-being.
  • How underlying financial motivations may influence the practice.

Our objective in this article is to offer a comprehensive understanding of the business side of adult circumcision, the severe life-long consequences of this procedure that is rarely even medically necessary, and to advocate for a more enlightened and ethically sound decision-making process.

The Direct Costs of Adult Circumcision

Before we begin to discuss the costs of adult circumcision, I need to address a common pro-circumcision talking point.

The pro-circumcision crowd tries to say that the cost of not circumcising is greater when as an adult; therefore, it’s better to do it as an infant. 

The truth is that circumcision is rarely ever medically necessary at any age. Most American doctors are not trained to understand the male anatomy and the medical establishment at large is complicit in demonizing the foreskin, without any real consideration for the vital functions of the foreskin. 

The prepuce, or foreskin, serves as an integral component of male genital anatomy, enveloping and safeguarding the penile glans (tip). It fulfills several critical roles and offers various health advantages, such as:

  • Defensive Role: By encasing the glans, the foreskin acts as a protective shield against mechanical harm, foreign particles, and infections. This defense mechanism is especially crucial for young boys, helping prevent urinary tract infections by acting as a barrier to harmful microorganisms.
  • Moisturizing Function: Smegma, a natural secretion found under the foreskin, is produced by the accumulation of shed skin cells, oils, and moisture. This secretion maintains the moisture of the glans and ensures the foreskin glides smoothly over it, preventing irritation.
  • Sensory Contribution: Rich in nerve endings, the foreskin ranks among the most sensitive regions of the penis. Its sensitivity plays a vital role in enhancing sexual gratification and excitement in many men.
  • Immunological Aspect: Research indicates the foreskin has immune-related properties, housing specialized cells that ward off certain infections, thereby lowering the incidence of specific sexually transmitted infections.
  • Enhancement of Sexual Experience: The foreskin’s design allows for effortless movement over the glans during intimate moments, minimizing friction and augmenting sexual pleasure. It also contributes to the dynamics of an erection by unfolding to cover the glans fully.

For further reading on the uncircumcised penis, check out our article 6 Things You Need to Know About The Uncircumcised Penis.

Adult circumcision involves significant direct costs that can pose financial challenges for individuals. These expenses encompass surgical fees, which include the surgeon’s charges and the cost of anesthesia.

Additionally, hospital or clinic usage expenses factor into the bill beyond the surgical room, covering the facility’s services during the circumcision process. Circumcision costs include pre- and post-operative care, such as initial consultations, follow-up visits, and procuring necessary medications or supplies. Understanding the role of insurance in covering these expenses is vital. Many expenses incur out-of-pocket charges.

Assigning specific numbers to the costs associated with adult circumcision requires an understanding of the variability inherent in medical procedures. Costs can fluctuate widely based on geographic location, the medical facility chosen, the patient’s specific needs, and the extent of insurance coverage. However, to provide a ballpark figure for understanding:

  • Surgical Fees: The surgeon’s fee for an adult circumcision can range from $800 to $3,000. This fee can vary depending on the surgeon’s experience and the complexity of the procedure.
  • Anesthesia Costs: Depending on the type of anesthesia used (local vs. general), costs can range from $200 to $1,000.
  • Hospital or Clinic Usage: Facility fees for the procedure can add $500 to $2,000 to the overall cost. These fees cover the use of the surgical room and any necessary equipment.
  • Pre- and Post-Operative Care: Initial consultations may cost between $100 and $250, while follow-up visits can vary but may amount to similar charges per visit. Medications and care supplies might require an outlay of $50 to $200, depending on the care needed.

The total cost for an adult circumcision could range broadly from $1,650 to $6,450, not accounting for the potential variability in individual circumstances and additional unforeseen expenses.

Hidden Costs of Adult Circumcision

The financial toll of adult circumcision extends beyond the surgery and immediate care. Physical consequences, such as the potential for complications, including infections or reduced sensitivity, can lead to unforeseen expenses related to additional treatments and loss of work. 

Moreover, the psychological impact on individuals who may experience regret or trauma post-procedure necessitates consideration of mental health support costs.

For a deeper understanding of the consequences of circumcision, read through the following articles:

When individuals face complications post-circumcision, they may also require ongoing medical attention, specialist consultations, and medication, all contributing to the overall financial burden. In some cases, the emotional toll of regret or dissatisfaction with the procedure can result in therapy or counseling expenses, adding another layer to the financial implications.

Profit Motives Behind Circumcision

The underlying financial drivers warrant a closer examination for a comprehensive understanding of their persistence in modern healthcare practices.

One of the more clandestine practices involves the sale of foreskins to biomedical companies. This transaction is not widely known to the public and raises ethical questions regarding consent and the commercial use of human tissue. The foreskins obtained from circumcisions are a valuable commodity in the biomedical research sector, where they are utilized in a variety of ways, including the development of skin grafts for burn victims, making cosmetic products like anti-aging creams, and in various research, endeavors aiming to understand skin diseases and the general properties of human skin.

The utilization of foreskin in the biomedical industry is a lucrative venture. The cells harvested from the foreskin are known for their proliferative capabilities, making them ideal for generating cultured skin cells in laboratories. This has led to foreskin-derived materials being a sought-after resource, thereby creating a hidden revenue stream that incentivizes medical providers to advocate for the procedure.

Moreover, the financial aspect of circumcision extends beyond the sale of foreskins. Hospitals and medical practitioners also benefit financially from the procedure itself. Circumcision rates, particularly in countries where it is a common practice, contribute significantly to healthcare providers’ incomes. This is compounded by the fact that the decision to circumcise is often made in the newborn stage, where medical advice, cultural norms, and social expectations influence parental consent.

“In 2013, television personality Oprah Winfrey began advertising the virtues of SkinMedica, an anti-wrinkle face cream made from human foreskin fibroblasts that promised to ‘rapidly restore the skin’s barrier and moisture balance.’ SkinMedica claimed that it hasn’t bought a foreskin in twenty years—that just one “donated” foreskin is the gift that keeps on giving.

— Georganne Chapin, author of “This Penis Business” (Lucid House Publishing, 2024)

This Penis Business, by Georganne Chapin

Sadly, cultural and social norms sustains the demand for circumcision. This demand indirectly fuels a profitable industry, creating a cycle where financial incentives bolster the continuation of the practice. The cultural embedment of circumcision makes it challenging to critically assess the practice from a purely medical or ethical standpoint, as the financial drivers are intricately woven into the societal fabric that supports its perpetuation.

The discussion surrounding the profit motives behind circumcision invites a broader reflection on the ethical implications of medical practices driven by financial gain. It raises pertinent questions about individuals’ autonomy over their bodies, the transparency of medical practices, and the ethical considerations of using human tissue for commercial purposes. 

Embrace Your Wholeness Today: Join the Intactivist Movement

Your body, your choice. Before making a decision that will affect your life and body forever, consider all facets of circumcision. Intact America stands for bodily integrity and informed choice, advocating for the rights of individuals to make educated decisions about their own bodies. We invite you to join us in spreading awareness about the benefits of staying intact and the potential risks associated with adult circumcision. We can shift perceptions, advocate for autonomy, and celebrate the natural body together. Take action with us—educate, empower, and embrace your wholeness. Continue to explore our website to learn more, share your story, or support our cause. Your voice matters in this vital conversation for change.

People Also Ask These Questions About The Cost of Adult Circumcision

What Is the Average Cost of Adult Circumcision?

The cost of adult circumcision can vary widely depending on several factors, including the geographical location, the medical professional performing the procedure, and whether it is done in a hospital or a private clinic. Generally, prices can range from several hundred to a several thousand dollars. 

How Much Does Circumcision Cost Without Health Insurance?

Without health insurance, the total cost of adult circumcision typically falls on the individual, which can range from several hundred to a several thousand dollars, as mentioned. This cost often includes the surgical procedure, necessary pre-surgical consultations, and follow-up appointments. Additional fees may arise if complications occur.

Is Circumcision Covered by Health Insurance?

Coverage for adult circumcision varies by insurance provider and plan. In some cases, circumcision is covered when deemed medically necessary and prescribed by a healthcare provider, such as for the treatment of conditions like phimosis or recurrent infections. However, insurance may not cover the costs if the procedure is chosen for cosmetic reasons or personal preference.

Are There Any Additional Costs Associated with Circumcision?

Beyond the base cost of the surgical procedure, additional expenses may include anesthesia, facility fees if the procedure is performed in a hospital, and any necessary medications during recovery. Pre-surgery consultations and follow-up visits may also incur separate charges.

Assent vs Consent (in Regards to Bodily Autonomy and Circumcision)

Assent vs Consent (in Regards to Bodily Autonomy and Circumcision)

The concepts of assent and consent are crucial in ethical decision-making across various contexts, standing as fundamental principles to ensure respect and autonomy. Despite their importance, the subtle differences between these terms are often overlooked, leading to misunderstandings.

Understanding the disparities between assent and consent is vital in bodily autonomy and medical procedures, where clarity and comprehension are essential. In this article, we will explore the significant difference between assent and consent, shedding light on their implications and applications in ethical dilemmas.

With a focus on anti-circumcision, the discussion will examine how these concepts intersect with medical ethics and individual rights issues.

The Difference Between Assent and Consent

Consent

Consent is a foundational principle deeply entrenched in law and ethics, requiring that any agreement be informed, voluntary, and originate from an individual considered competent to provide it. In legal terms, this pivotal concept signifies a person’s unequivocal endorsement of an action or proposal based on a comprehensive understanding of all relevant facts and potential outcomes. 

Assent

Assent, closely linked to consent, typically involves an agreement provided by individuals who cannot provide legal consent due to age or mental capacity. This type of agreement is commonly sought in various scenarios involving minors, particularly in research or medical interventions, showcasing respect for their evolving autonomy. It plays a crucial role in ensuring decisions made on behalf of minors consider their perspectives and best interests, aligning with ethical principles of autonomy and beneficence.

The Legal Landscape

The legal frameworks related to consent and assent exhibit significant variations across diverse domains like medical care, research participation, and educational interventions. These discrepancies underscore the intricate balance between legal mandates, ethical considerations, and individual rights. Establishing clear guidelines is vital to ensuring ethical compliance and upholding the autonomy and dignity of individuals in these varied settings.

Ethical Considerations

Ethically, it’s critical to differentiate between assent and consent to uphold individual rights and autonomy. This highlights the importance of informed decision-making, particularly when consent capacity may be compromised. It stresses the need for a nuanced approach that balances personal autonomy, ethical principles, and societal expectations. 

Consent and Assent in Medical Procedures

In medical settings, it’s crucial to obtain consent or assent before proceeding with treatment. Healthcare providers must explain procedures, risks, benefits, and alternatives to patients or guardians, especially with minors. This ensures voluntary, informed decisions, promoting patient-centered healthcare.

Anti-Circumcision Perspective on Consent

Background on Circumcision

Circumcision, a surgical procedure involving foreskin removal from male genitalia, has a long history spanning millennia. Motivated by medical, religious, and cultural factors, this practice sparks debates on ethical considerations like consent and assent. The controversy has spurred discussions on its historical origins and modern-day implications, with intactivist groups like ours and many others drawing special attention to the fact that circumcision is medically unnecessary and a human rights violation

“Many people believe that parents should be free to make any decision for their children whatsoever. However, there ARE limits to parental decision-making, and many of these are inscribed in law.

For example:

  • It is illegal to tattoo a child, whether the child’s parent approves or not.
  • Parents cannot force their minor children to go to work instead of going to school.
  • Parents cannot consent to a neighbor having sexual relations with their minor sons or daughters.

In medicine, parental consent is valid only for the treatment of conditions that threaten the life or health of the child.”

Intact America

The Debate on Consent and Assent in Circumcision

The argument against infant circumcision highlights the ethical concerns surrounding the procedure, emphasizing the importance of bodily autonomy and informed decision-making. This surgical practice involves removing the foreskin from a male infant’s penis and has sparked debates due to cultural, religious, and medical factors.

This Penis Business, by Georganne Chapin

Voices from the Anti-Circumcision Movement

Numerous organizations and individuals advocate against non-consensual circumcision, emphasizing the need for alternative cultural practices that respect individual autonomy and keep boys and men intact. Their arguments hinge on the belief that such irreversible decisions should be left until the individual can fully consent.

The Importance of Dialogue and Education

Promoting public discourse and education on consent and assent empowers individuals and communities with knowledge. We aim to foster a culture that values personal autonomy, informed decision-making, and respect for individual choices. This approach nurtures a society where every voice is heard and honored, contributing to a more inclusive and understanding community.

Recognizing the difference between assent and consent goes beyond a mere academic exercise; it is a cornerstone in honoring individual rights and autonomy. Amid ongoing societal debates on issues like circumcision, the imperative for continual education and ethical reflection grows increasingly evident. Engaging in informed discussions and championing the rights of the most vulnerable is a moral obligation. Assent pertains to agreement from individuals who may lack total consent capacity, like minors or those with cognitive impairments. This distinction underscores the significance of upholding ethical norms and protecting the autonomy of all individuals, especially in contexts involving vulnerable communities. By nurturing a culture that values informed decision-making and prioritizes respect for individual agency, we can help shape a fairer and more compassionate society.

People Also Ask These Questions About Assent vs Consent

What Is the Key Difference Between Assent and Consent?

The key difference lies in the level of understanding and agreement. Consent is a fully informed, voluntary agreement given by someone capable of making that decision, typically an adult. Conversely, assent is an agreement from someone unable to give legal consent, often a minor, indicating a general agreement or willingness to participate.

Why Is Understanding Assent vs Consent Important in Medical Procedures?

Understanding these terms is crucial in medical settings to ensure ethical standards are met and patients’ rights are respected. Consent is required for most medical procedures, indicating that the patient fully understands and agrees to the treatment. Assent is sought in addition to consent from a parent or guardian when treating minors, ensuring the child’s willingness to proceed with the treatment.

Can Minors Give Consent for Medical Treatments?

Generally, minors cannot give consent for medical treatments due to age limitations on legal decision-making capacity. Instead, they may provide assent while a parent or guardian gives formal consent. However, there are exceptions based on the minor’s maturity level, the seriousness of the condition, and emancipation statutes in some jurisdictions.

How Do Laws Differ Regarding Assent and Consent Across Countries?

Laws regarding assent and consent vary significantly across countries, especially concerning age limits for consent and recognizing assent in medical or research contexts. Some countries have specific guidelines for obtaining assent from minors in addition to parental consent, emphasizing the importance of respecting the minor’s developing autonomy.

What Role Does Assent Play in Research Involving Children?

In research involving children, assent is necessary for respecting the child’s developing autonomy and willingness to participate. Ethical guidelines require researchers to obtain assent from children who are capable of expressing their willingness and obtaining consent from their parents or guardians.

How Are Assent and Consent Addressed in Online Privacy Laws?

Online privacy laws, such as the GDPR in the European Union, often require clear and affirmative consent for the processing of personal data. For minors, these laws typically mandate obtaining consent from a parent or guardian, though the age at which a minor can give their own consent varies. The concept of assent does not explicitly apply in this context but reflects the broader principle of protecting individuals’ rights and autonomy online.