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IOTM – Dr. Paul Fleiss

AUGUST 2014: It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Dr. Paul Fleiss last month. An American pediatrician who broke with tradition early on to promote breastfeeding and encourage parents to keep their boys intact, Dr. Fleiss represented what we would love to see in all pediatricians – a willingness to look beyond tradition and stand up for what’s right for our children.

Based in Los Angeles, Dr. Fleiss was described by the Los Angeles Times as “everyone’s favorite baby doctor,” having been one of Southern California’s most sought after physicians for thirty years. He helped to deliver the children of celebrities such as Madonna – and yet he made house calls, too, taking on patients who were unable to pay him. To intactivists around the world, Dr. Fleiss is most famous for his public and powerful stance against infant circumcision.

fleiss bookIf you haven’t read What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision: Untold Facts on America’s Most Widely Performed – and Most Unnecessary – Surgery, which he published with Frederick Hodges in 2002, buy or download it now. It’s an indispensable guide for parents on the fence about circumcision, as well as for intactivists looking for more “ammunition” in the fight to educate the public.

“Packed with sensible information, practical solutions that work, and landmark information on male health and child care,” says radio host and pediatrician Dr. Dean Edell, “this is an indispensible guide for parents.” Dan Bollinger, Executive Director of the International Coalition for Genital Integrity, agrees: “This book presents the truth about non-therapeutic circumcision in a straight forward and easy to read fashion. Whether you are a parent questioning circumcision, a survivor wanting to know more about your body, or a human rights activist needing a solid background of information, I highly recommend this book.”

Well before the publication of his book, Dr. Fleiss was speaking out against circumcision. In 1997, Mothering Magazine published “The Case Against Circumcision,” in which Dr. Fleiss explained the function and importance of the foreskin, how to care for it, and the permanent damage caused by circumcision. “The natural penis requires no special care A child’s foreskin, like his eyelids, is self-cleansing. Forcibly retracting a baby’s foreskin can lead to irritation and infection. The best way to care for a child’s intact penis is to leave it alone.”

“Paul was a staunch supporter of children’s rights and was willing to stand up for infants and children in the face of tremendous opposition,” said Marilyn Milos, founder of National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers. “He never waivered, compromised his stance, or gave up. His gentle voice, his kindness, and his determination will ensure he is remembered as a protector of the rights of children.”

“By exposing the medical myths about circumcision, Dr. Paul Fleiss has given countless American parents the facts they need to refuse this harmful surgery for their sons,” said Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America. “He has passed on, but his words of wisdom will save boys for years to come.”



Marilyn Fayre Milos, multiple award winner for her humanitarian work to end routine infant circumcision in the United States and advocating for the rights of infants and children to genital autonomy, has written a warm and compelling memoir of her path to becoming “the founding mother of the intactivist movement.” Needing to support her family as a single mother in the early sixties, Milos taught banjo—having learned to play from Jerry Garcia (later of The Grateful Dead)—and worked as an assistant to comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce, typing out the content of his shows and transcribing court proceedings of his trials for obscenity. After Lenny’s death, she found her voice as an activist as part of the counterculture revolution, living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, and honed her organizational skills by creating an alternative education open classroom (still operating) in Marin County. 

After witnessing the pain and trauma of the circumcision of a newborn baby boy when she was a nursing student at Marin College, Milos learned everything she could about why infants were subjected to such brutal surgery. The more she read and discovered, the more convinced she became that circumcision had no medical benefits. As a nurse on the obstetrical unit at Marin General Hospital, she committed to making sure parents understood what circumcision entailed before signing a consent form. Considered an agitator and forced to resign in 1985, she co-founded NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers) and began organizing international symposia on circumcision, genital autonomy, and human rights. Milos edited and published the proceedings from the above-mentioned symposia and has written numerous articles in her quest to end circumcision and protect children’s bodily integrity. She currently serves on the board of directors of Intact America.


Georganne Chapin is a healthcare expert, attorney, social justice advocate, and founding executive director of Intact America, the nation’s most influential organization opposing the U.S. medical industry’s penchant for surgically altering the genitals of male children (“circumcision”). Under her leadership, Intact America has definitively documented tactics used by U.S. doctors and healthcare facilities to pathologize the male foreskin, pressure parents into circumcising their sons, and forcibly retract the foreskins of intact boys, creating potentially lifelong, iatrogenic harm. 

Chapin holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College, and a Master’s degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. For 25 years, she served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson Health Plan, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer in New York’s Hudson Valley. Mid-career, she enrolled in an evening law program, where she explored the legal and ethical issues underlying routine male circumcision, a subject that had interested her since witnessing the aftermath of the surgery conducted on her younger brother. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law in 2003, and was subsequently admitted to the New York Bar. As an adjunct professor, she taught Bioethics and Medicaid and Disability Law at Pace, and Bioethics in Dominican College’s doctoral program for advanced practice nurses.

In 2004, Chapin founded the nonprofit Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality, a company that designs software and provides consulting services designed to reduce administrative complexities, streamline and integrate data collection and reporting, and enhance access to care for those in need. In 2008, she co-founded Intact America.

Chapin has published many articles and op-ed essays, and has been interviewed on local, national and international television, radio and podcasts about ways the U.S. healthcare system prioritizes profits over people’s basic needs. She cites routine (nontherapeutic) infant circumcision as a prime example of a practice that wastes money and harms boys and the men they will become. This Penis Business: A Memoir is her first book.