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IOTM – Lauren Jenks

DECEMBER 2011: Lauren Jenks, proud mother, intactivist and founder of The WHOLE Network, didn’t become aware of the issues surrounding circumcision until she became pregnant with her first child, a boy. “I didn’t think about it much until about 2 months before his due date,” she says. “By that time, my love for him had grown immensely, and the thought of any painful procedure made my head spin.”

And so began her quest for information–which started with a graphic video of a circumcision procedure. In a wonderful and personal essay called “The Circumcision Decision”, which she wrote for the birthwithoutfear blog, she says “My jaw dropped to the floor when I saw the video. I couldn’t stop crying.” More research led to networking and the realization that thousands of parents out there shared her abhorrence of circumcision.

Lauren was so moved by the plethora of information she discovered–from reasons why circumcision does not prevent the spread of HIV to detailed information about the purpose of the foreskin–that she founded The Whole Network, a grassroots non-profit organization that has a strong Facebook presence as well as individual locations around the country. “I wanted to be able to reach other parents who were in the same shoes as I, and make sure they had a place for accurate information and support.”

Lauren’s dedication to intactivism has become a family passion, as well. Her husband Shawn was featured as Intact America’s Intactivist of the Month in May 2011, in honor of Father’s Day. “As a circumcised man, I wish that I had been given the choice to remain as nature had intended,” says Shawn. “I hope through my dialogues with expecting parents that more baby boys can leave the hospital/birthing center the way they entered it—perfect.”

“The intactivist community consists of a variety of organizations,” Lauren says, “each with their own approach, yet always working together for a common goal. Intact America holds an invaluable place in the movement, and I’m so thankful for what they do. Whether it’s standing up to the CDC or AAP, placing powerful ads in large newspapers, or providing accurate information to medical professionals at conferences, you can bet that Intact America is making great strides for human rights.”

“Lauren Jenks, through The Whole Network, has expanded the reach of intactivism to a larger and larger community of young parents who are learning the truth about circumcision and deciding NOT to cut their baby boys,” says Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America. “She epitomizes a spirit of collaboration among organizations united around a common cause, and proves the principle that ‘a rising tide floats all boats.’ By all of us working together, we will are making ‘intact’ and ‘whole’ the new norm for American males.”

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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.