Intact America’s Response

• An opportunity to cancel circumcisions...

When the first Coronovirus cases appeared in the United States, Intact America began considering how the pandemic related to our mission. When the Surgeon General advised hospitals to postpone elective surgeries (3/14/2020), we realized this was an opportunity to move us toward a tipping point, save babies from harm, and save resources including doctors’ and nurses’ time.

• 8,000 emails to hospital leadership...

We purchased two lists and thus far have sent 7,927 emails to officials from 4,121 hospitals, at a cost of $3,578. The emails went to the chiefs of obstetrics, heads of nursing, and risk managers. Future emailings are in the works.

• Started an online petition to the U.S. Surgeon General...

We want YOU to take action. The Surgeon General needs to hear your voice, our voices, and specify that newborn circumcision should be added to the list of elective surgeries. If you haven’t done so already, sign our petition! 

The U.S. healthcare system will be forever changed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One such change should be the abandonment of male child genital cutting (aka circumcision).

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American College of Surgeons released an Elective Surgery Acuity Scale advisory recommending that that hospitals, health systems and surgeons “thoughtfully review all scheduled elective procedures with a plan to minimize, postpone, or cancel electively scheduled operations… or other invasive procedures.” In addition, the ACS called on facilities to “minimize use of essential items needed to care for patients,” among these “personal protective equipment” (e.g., sterile gloves and masks) and cleaning supplies.

Echoing the guidance from the ACS, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned that every elective surgery could spread coronavirus within the facility, [and] use up protective medical gear as public officials worry about shortages and burden a hospital workforce who may be needed to respond to COVID-19.

On March 16, the American College of Obstetricians (ACOG) joined several other medical societies in issuing a similar statement, endorsing the Surgeon General’s warning.

ACS COVID Tier scale

If we applied the advice of the ACS, ACOG and the Surgeon General every day — not just in times of crises or pandemics — the “routine,” elective genital cutting of children would simply end.

Just like in the United States, during the 1930s and ’40s circumcision took hold in Commonwealth countries. Then World War II caused economic collapse in England, leading to the creation of the British National Health Service — a system where every procedure and every treatment was scrutinized for its cost and potential benefit. That’s how male circumcision there went by the wayside. Cutting out the funding of the risky, harmful and unnecessary amputation of baby boys’ foreskins ended up benefitting British boys and men for the rest of their lives, while saving resources for people with true medical needs.

It’s estimated that more than a billion dollars are squandered each year in the United States on amputating baby boys’ foreskins and repairing the most immediately obvious functional and cosmetic blunders. (If you’re thinking “only a billion,” note that this sum could buy 30,000 high-acuity ventilators or pay for 375,000 ventilator-dependent patient days.) Long-term costs of circumcision, physical and psychological, are of course much greater.

Whether in times of abundance or of scarcity, no state Medicaid program and no private insurer should be spending taxpayer or premium dollars on gratuitous medical interventions. Perhaps if there is any silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic it will be relegation to history of the nation’s most common and utterly unnecessary pediatric surgery.

Spread the Message

Send a letter to the editor of your local media and people who can influence your hospital’s policy.

How to clean and care for your intact baby boy

Care is easier with an intact foreskin

In a baby, the foreskin is attached to the head of the penis with the same type of connective tissue that causes finger and toenails to adhere to the nail bed. Unlike a newly circumcised penis, an intact penis requires no special care. “Just clean what’s seen.” In other words, wash your baby’s natural penis as you wash his fingers or toes—plain warm water. That’s it!

Your child’s foreskin should never be forcibly retracted

When cleaning your baby, simply wash his penis in a bath gently. Forcibly pulling back his foreskin damages his penis. Warn other caregivers of this hazard. Never allow anyone, even a doctor, to do this. It is painful, and can lead to bleeding, infections and adhesions. Stay with your son during all medical examinations, and state that his foreskin should not be retracted. Your son should be the first and only person to retract his foreskin.

See Circumcision Debate for more information.