JULY 2013: It’s rare that a physician will speak out publicly against circumcision; so many are still afraid of repercussions within the medical establishment. Christopher Guest, MD, however, has taken a courageous route for nearly 20 years.
A vascular and interventional radiologist in Ontario, Canada, Dr. Guest is the founder of the Children’s Health and Human Rights Partnership. He’s been opposed to circumcision since 1994, when he refused to participate in forced infant circumcision during medical school, and has produced several powerful videos aimed at educating the public about the practice,
Dr. Guest’s most recent video, “Circumcision: The Whole Story,” co-produced by the Barrie (Ontario) Midwives, addresses the culture of circumcision. The video (also embedded at the bottom of this page) explores the historical origins of circumcision, explains the physiological functions of the foreskin, and discusses commonly believed myths and scientific truths. Its focus on sexuality and evolution is particularly straightforward and helpful. “Our genitals have an evolutionary track record of efficiency and success,” he explains. “And it’s not just our species—all mammals have a foreskin.”
The video is a fantastic introduction to anyone who’s new to the issue, from newly pregnant parents-to-be, to friends and family who’d never thought about circumcision until you brought it up. Says intactivist videographer James Loewen, “Anyone who would insist upon cutting a male child after seeing this video needs to admit that they are causing serious physical damage to a child based upon misinformation, superstition and/or prejudice.”
Last year, Dr. Guest spoke at the Central Ontario Humanist Association, discussing circumcision history, ethics, and human rights. You can watch his speech on YouTube (Part 1, Part 2).
In a recent interview with Intact America, Dr. Guest told us, “As a radiologist, the continual scientific advancements in medicine never cease to amaze me: CT scanners that image pulsating coronary arteries, fMRI machines that actually watch your brain think, tiny catheters that drill through blockages in arteries. In this age of modern medicine, with all of our technology and knowledge and progress, how is it possible for physicians to promote such a primitive and cruel practice as circumcision? It is difficult to imagine anything more disturbing than the ritualistic mutilation of infant genitalia. The medicalization of this ritual is simply a disgrace to our profession. Forced infant circumcision is medically unethical, it is irrational, it is unscientific and it constitutes a gross violation of human rights. On behalf of many Canadian physicians who oppose circumcision, I commend Intact America for educating health care providers about the sexual and mechanical function of the foreskin, as well as for protecting the human rights of children in the U.S. and throughout the world.”
“Dr. Christopher Guest,” says Georganne Chapin, Intact America’s executive director, “blends a scientist’s observations with a humanitarian’s sensibilities—and the moral courage to speak out against an atrocity so blithely ignored by much of the medical profession in the United States and Canada. Would that more physicians followed his example! Intact America is pleased to welcome Dr. Guest to our Board of Health Professionals, and to share his wonderful new video, which sets the record straight about the normal male body and the harms of surgically altering it.”
You can watch “Circumcision: The Whole Story” here: