Press conference – 11 am, Thursday, October 3, corner of Dixmyth and Clifton Avenues, Cincinnati, OH

Tarrytown, NY—September 30, 2013

On Thursday, October 3, members of Intact America, an organization devoted to ending the practice of routine neonatal circumcision, will be protesting the experimentation on baby boys being carried out at TriHealth Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. They will also be presenting a letter to hospital administrators and the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, signed by more than 5,000 supporters demanding that the study be stopped. Their mobile billboard will be traveling throughout the city on October 2 and 3, making the same demand, and a press conference will be held on site Thursday at 11 am.

Scores of volunteers, who call themselves intactivists, will gather on public property at the corner of Dixmyth and Clifton Avenues, near the hospital, hoping to convince Good Samaritan to halt the study that seeks to determine which of two circumcision clamps causes more bleeding and more pain. Protestors charge that the experiment inflicts needless suffering on individuals who cannot consent, and thus constitutes a clear violation of medical ethics, and human rights.

The experiment entitled “Gomco Versus Mogen: Which is Best?” is currently recruiting participants—or rather, persuading parents to enroll their healthy newborn baby boys. More than 200 babies have or will become subjects in the experiment, planned to run through April 2014. Intact America was unable to learn who was funding the research.

Intact America’s mission is in conflict with the researchers’ goals. The children’s rights organization points out that the foreskin is natural, normal tissue; an integral part of the male anatomy, it protects the rest of the penis and plays an important role in sexual pleasure. The organization takes issue with the study’s methodology, which measures, respectively for the two clamps:

  • how much pain the babies feel (as measured by vital signs and facial expression),
  • the amount of bleeding (as measured by “weight of blood soaked gauzes”),
  • the time required for the procedure,
  • parental satisfaction (but not the boy’s satisfaction), and
  • whether any unexpected complications ensue, including infection.

“The removal of healthy, normal genital tissue from an individual who cannot consent is a straightforward human rights abuse,” said Georganne Chapin, executive director of Intact America. “Informed consent is impossible for babies and young children. When today’s babies become men, they can make their own informed decision about whether they want to remove a part of their own penises.”

For any surgical procedure, including surgery to modify the genitals, medical ethics requires both necessity and informed consent. The most recent circumcision policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stated that the “health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision.” The report repeatedly ceded that the risks of circumcision have not been systematically assessed, but went on to say that that there are benefits to the procedure sufficient to warrant insurance reimbursement. Even this weak assertion was disputed by a follow-up article authored by 37 European and Canadian doctors. This article described the AAP report as rife with “cultural bias.”

Lawyer and activist Christopher Maurer said that practice patterns in the United States are unusual compared to other developed nations. “This feeling that genital cutting is somehow routine or normal is partly generational. But it’s out of step with how we are coming to view the rights of the child.”

The male circumcision rate in the United States is around 50 percent today, having dropped steadily from around 80 percent 30 years ago. In Europe, circumcision rates in most countries are well under 10 percent, and European physician groups and even courts are now calling for doctors to stop performing all child circumcisions that are not medically indicated.

According to the TriHealth website, Good Samaritan is “the oldest and largest private teaching and specialty health care facility in Greater Cincinnati.” A member of Catholic Health Initiatives, the hospital was opened by the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati more than 150 years ago.

Intact America (www.intactamerica.org) is the nation’s leading voice against routine neonatal male circumcision. Intact America works to protect babies and children from circumcision and all other forms of medically unnecessary genital alteration. Intact America is based in Tarrytown, N.Y. Visit Intact America at www.intactamerica.org, on Facebook, and on Twitter.