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Our Story

Our History

For decades, human rights activists have cried out against circumcision because the patient (the baby) cannot give consent to a medically unnecessary procedure that will permanently alter his genitals and future sexual pleasure.

In 1985, Marilyn F. Milos, RN launched the National Organization of Circumcision Resource Centers (NOCIRC, later renamed Genital Autonomy-America) to challenge misinformation about the natural, intact penis. Over the years, Marilyn has influenced tens of thousands of people who now know that circumcision is unnecessary, harms baby boys and the men they will become and leads to lifelong negative consequences. To strengthen the movement, she organized biannual international symposia to create a body of research for intactivists to use. (For Marilyn’s full and fascinating story, read her new memoir, Please Don’t Cut the Baby.) Along with Marilyn, other intactivists and grassroots organizations emerged to fight circumcision. But they faced stiff challenges. Circumcision is embedded in American culture, heavily promoted by hospitals, doctors, and medical equipment makers—the multi-billion-dollar American Circumcision Machine. Intactivism needed to move beyond grassroots efforts to effectively challenge the circumcision status quo.

Enter Dean Pisani, a Dallas businessman and frequent funder of Marilyn’s work. He offered to back a more strategic, professional approach to fight the circumcision machine. Marilyn assembled a council of individuals and intactivist organizations—NOCIRC, Doctors Opposing Circumcision, Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, and the International Coalition for Genital Integrity (ICGI)—and the group formed a new organization in 2008: Intact America. Georganne Chapin, an attorney, health care executive, and bioethics authority, was tapped as founding executive director. Marilyn became Intact America’s clinical consultant. Dan Bollinger of ICGI conducted Intact America’s extensive research and survey work. Intact America became the largest, professional anti-circumcision advocacy organization in the United States. Thanks to extensive media coverage and published opinion pieces, Georganne was recognized as a leading intactivist authority. (Read Georganne’s new memoir, This Penis Business, to find out how her life experiences molded her intactivism.)

In July 2021, Genital Autonomy-America was merged into Intact America. In 2022, Intact America expanded its scope to carry on Marilyn’s work and organized Intact 2022, a hugely successful international symposium. In 2023, Intact America launched its Skin In The Game initiative to show stunning images and amplify the voices of Americans who have been negatively affected by circumcision and its negation of the rights of the child. In 2024, Intact America is rolling out DoNoHarm.report, a physician accountability tool that parents, guardians, and men can use to report circumcision complications, forcible foreskin retractions, and aggressive circumcision solicitation. These reports will be sent to state medical boards and to the offending hospitals and medical professionals.

Our Mission

Intact America fulfills its mission by challenging social and sexual norms and by advocating for the health and wellbeing of all children and the adults they will become. We do this through creative messaging, advocacy, education, public policy reform, and the empowerment of our supporters, partners, and volunteers.

Our Vision

Intact America envisions a world where children are free from medically unnecessary surgeries carried out on them without their consent in the name of culture, religion, profit, or parental preference.

Our Strategy

Since its founding in 2008, Intact America’s strategic initiatives, surveys, research, and educational campaigns have had two goals in mind: (1) to change the way Americans think about circumcision; and (2) to promote the value of the foreskin.

According to Intact America’s national surveys, American opinion is changing. In 2010, only 10 percent of respondents thought that baby boys should be kept intact. Subsequent surveys have shown steady increases in that belief, and today, nearly one in four Americans think baby boys should be kept intact.

Intact America’s short-term goal is to increase the percentage of intact-friendly Americans to over 30 percent, which is considered a tipping point for social activism, when a critical mass of Americans can influence enough people to uproot conventional thinking. (Learn more about Intact America’s tipping point strategy here).

Intact America promotes the value of the foreskin in many different ways. It recently established Foreskin Day, a festival celebrated each April 4 with merchandise and a program streamed on YouTube and other social media channels. Foreskin Day is an opportunity for intactivists to show their support for the prepuce, an exquisite 12-15 square inches of double-layered, highly innervated erogenous tissue that makes sex more pleasurable for men and their partners. Intact America also provides information on its website and social media channels on how the foreskin functions and how to care for intact boys

Our Principles

We Are Passionate

We Are Principled

We Are Strategic

We Are Honest

We Are Uncompromising

We Are Professional

Our Positions

Men are entitled to their penis … all of it. The following principles express the values and positions of Intact America on various issues related to the right of all persons to be free from medically unnecessary bodily interventions to which they cannot and do not consent.

End Physician Solicitation Of Circumcision

Intact America agrees with the American Medical Association’s position, which states: “Physicians should not provide, prescribe, or seek compensation for medical services that they know are unnecessary.” Child genital cutting conducted in the absence of pathology is a medically unnecessary surgical procedure whose sole purpose is to permanently remove healthy issue. Therefore, it is a violation of the AMA’s Code of Medical Ethics for physicians to solicit, provide or seek compensation for such surgery.

End Medicaid And Private Insurance Payment For All Medically Unnecessary Child Genital Cutting

Intact America opposes the use of public and private health insurance funds for medically unnecessary surgery on children’s natural genitals.

 

Health care resources are finite. Whether funded by government-collected tax revenue (as for Medicaid and Medicare services) or by privately insurance premiums, health insurance funds are pooled to spread risk and maximize equitable distribution of benefit. Federal rules prohibit the expenditure of government funds for medically unnecessary services, but even for private insurance, it is generally accepted that only medically necessary services shall be paid for by pooled funds; medically unnecessary procedures such as aesthetic enhancements (cosmetic surgery) performed in the absence of pathology or medical indication shall be the financial responsibility of the person requesting the service. (Bioethical rules of informed consent also apply, of course, whatever the payment source; thus, discretionary procedures may only be performed upon individuals who have the legal capacity to consent to them, and who have given such consent.)

 

Because there is no medical indication for removing a child’s natural, healthy foreskin, and because a child does not have the legal capacity to consent to this intervention, neither public nor private insurance funds should be used to pay for this procedure, or for the cosmetic alteration of any child’s genitals.

Circumcising Minors Violates Bioethical Principles

Intact America opposes infant and childhood genital cutting based on basic bioethical principles, including autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, and justice. Each principle is described below.

 

Individual Autonomy, Parental Rights, and Informed Consent

In health care decisions, respect for the autonomy of the patient implies that the patient has the capacity to act and decide intentionally, with understanding, and without coercion or influences that would mitigate against a free and voluntary act. This principle underlies the concept of informed consent in the physician/patient transaction. In the case of medical procedures offered to infants or children, because the child has no understanding or capacity to freely and voluntarily consent, the right to decide is given to the child’s parent or guardian in a form of consent known as proxy consent. However, the scope of proxy consent is, by necessity, limited to medical interventions undertaken on behalf of a minor child in their custody if and only if that intervention is necessary to save the life or the health of the child. Because the foreskin is a normal, healthy anatomical structure, and because “routine” circumcision does not save the child’s life or health, the parent or guardian has no right to solicit or consent to circumcision on behalf of the child. Therefore, childhood circumcision, except in extremely rare cases where a pathological condition is present, violates the principles of autonomy and informed consent, exceeds the limits of proxy consent, and cannot ethically be performed by medical practitioners or in medical settings.

 

Nonmaleficence

The principle of nonmaleficence requires that medical practitioners not intentionally create or cause to occur a needless harm or injury to the patient, through acts of either commission or omission. Childhood genital cutting (CGC) involves the permanent surgical removal of healthy, protective, erogenous tissue. The harms of CGC are compounded by the fact that, often, no anesthetic or inadequate anesthetic is used for what is a prolonged and painful operation. Regardless of whether pain control is administered during the surgery, however, because it is not medically necessary, CGC circumcision violates the principle of nonmaleficience.

 

Beneficence

The principle of beneficence says that health care professionals have a duty to not only provide a benefit to a patient, but also to take positive steps to prevent harm to the patient. It does not include the felt needs, concerns or cultural beliefs of anyone other than the patient. Because “routine” CGC does not seek to remedy an ill and, indeed, exposes babies and children to unnecessary risk, trauma and pain, it violates the bioethical principle of beneficence and should not be a part of medical practice.

 

Justice

The principle of justice in health care implies fairness, equal treatment and – by extension – equal protection. In the United States, girls of all ages are protected by federal and state laws from unconsented-to genital surgery practiced in medical or non-medical settings because of the health beliefs or religious or cultural preferences of their parents. A consensus is also growing that children who are born intersex (i.e., those whose genitalia have both male and female characteristics) should not be “treated” with genital surgery until they are old enough to express their sexual identity. Boys are accorded no such protection. There is no acceptable rationale prohibiting genital cutting on some children, while tolerating (and even promoting) it for others. Male CGC violates the bioethical principle of justice.

Protect Intersex Children

All persons—male, female, and intersex—should be protected from coerced genital surgery. In cases of children born with anomalous genitalia, Intact America opposes gender assignment surgery on those too young to express their gender preference or to understand the risks, harms, and irreversibility of such surgery.

Adults Must Be Fully Informed Before Consenting To Circumcision.

Intact America acknowledges an adult’s right to choose to be circumcised or to undergo any other genital modification surgery or surgery on that adult’s reproductive organ. However, adults must be fully informed of the risks, harms and permanent nature of such procedures. In the case of a medically indicated circumcision, informed consent includes information as to all possible alternative treatments, including the option of non-intervention. If full, informed patient consent is not possible due to incompetence, proxy decision-makers must be provided with full information on all potential risks, harms, and options, including the option of non-intervention.

No Adult Should Be Coerced Into Surgery On Their Genitalia Or Reproductive Organs.

These surgeries include abortion, cesarean section, tubal ligation, hysterectomy, vasectomy, castration, or any other such interventions forced on persons of any age or gender.

Circumcision Disrupts Breastfeeding.

Intact America supports breastfeeding as a beneficial practice for both mothers and infants. Many women have reported that following their baby’s circumcision, they were unable to latch on or nurse for many hours. To optimize the benefits offered by breastfeeding, it is prudent to avoid this medically unnecessary and traumatic procedure.

Protect Children From Forced Tattooing, Piercing, And Scarification.

Intact America opposes any forced cosmetic modification of the human body and holds that any medically unnecessary body modification that entails permanent disfigurement or decoration must never take place without the fully informed consent of the individual whose body will be permanently modified.

Protect All Children—Male, Female, And Intersex—From Genital Cutting.

Intact America stands for equal dignity and rights for all, and is committed to advancing human rights for all people. Intact America holds that every child—male, female, and intersex—must be protected from bodily harm. Intact America thus endorses the principle of equal protection regarding forced genital surgery.

 

In the United States, federal and state laws prohibit any form of genital cutting upon girls by health care professionals or laypersons, while the genital cutting of boys and some intersex children is not only tolerated, but actually promoted, in medical settings. Infant male genital cutting also is currently accepted as an expression of certain religious beliefs.

 

Proponents of female child genital cutting (CGC) use many of the same rationales put forth by cultures that practice male CGC. They say that genital cutting is traditional, culturally mandated, healthier, and cleaner; they say that the child will be more accepted by his or her peers and, as an adult, will be more marriageable (or attractive to the opposite sex).

 

Those who vociferously oppose female CGC often resist any comparison to male CGC on the basis that the former is more damaging and invasive than the latter. They contend that female CGC deprives girls of their sexual pleasure and puts girls at risk of death, while male CGC still allows men to achieve orgasm and is “less risky.” This reasoning is flawed because it implies that if female CGC could be modified—for example to leave the clitoris in place—or could be made safer through the use of sterile instruments, it would be acceptable.

 

However, female, male and intersex CGC all involve the forced removal of healthy genital tissue from unconsenting children who are powerless to defend themselves and who will live permanently with the consequences. Therefore, any attempt to rationalize the practice for some children while condemning it for others reflects prejudice, ignorance, and cultural bias, and flies in the face of the universal truth that every child has the right to be respected, protected, and loved.

Circumcision Must Not Be Promoted As Protection Against Sexually Transmitted Diseases And HIV.

It is socially irresponsible and dangerous to disseminate a message that the removal of normal genital tissue offers protection from sexually transmitted infections. Individuals can both contract and transmit such infections regardless of whether their genitals are intact or surgically altered. The only way to prevent such infections is through abstinence or “safe sex” practices.

Religion Must Not Be Used To Justify Circumcision.

Intact America recognizes the right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their own values and beliefs. However, this right is not limitless. A child’s right to bodily integrity outweighs parental preference, cultural norms, and religious mandates. Therefore, parents must not (directly, or through the agency of a medical or religious practitioner) harm a child physically and irreversibly in the name of religion or culture.

Bigotry And Hate Speech Must Not Be Tolerated.

Intact America rejects all forms of ethnic, racial, and religious stereotypes and bigotry. We condemn any form of hate speech based on ethnicity, race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or irreligion.

 

The incorporation of antisemitic or anti-Muslim expressions into criticism of male or female genital cutting only serves to undermine our movement and potentially derail our work to protect all children.

Children Have The Right To Express Their Gender Identity But Their Bodies Must Be Protected Until The Age Of Consent.

All children—male, female, intersex, and transgender—have an inalienable right to intact genitals. We support the right of people to express their gender identity, and we oppose surgical and chemical interventions of minors before the age of consent.

Marilyn

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

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.