Last week, Intact America launched a petition to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The petition demands that the AAP follow the recommendations from its own research about infant pain, and tell its doctors to END THE PAIN and stop circumcising baby boys. Our goal is 29,000 signatures by February 29. We need your help! Please sign this petition, and share it with your friends. Ask them to sign and share it, too!
Intact America insists that the American Academy of Pediatrics issue a new circumcision policy—one that honors and protects baby boys from harm.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently said that babies shouldn’t be subjected to unnecessary pain. But the AAP continues to promote “routine” infant circumcision, a painful, medically unnecessary surgery that removes a normal part of a baby’s penis.
Last month, the AAP published research showing that common medical procedures carried out on newborn babies are very painful, and that the effects of the pain can last many years. The procedures mentioned included heel sticks, insertion of IV needles, and circumcision. The AAP report also found that commonly used pain relievers are neither effective nor safe.
Infant circumcision differs from the other procedures discussed in the report in that it is an invasive surgery that neither tests for nor treats any illness, and permanently removes a natural and valuable part of a boy’s sexual anatomy – the foreskin. The pain from circumcision is intense and continues for days or weeks after the surgery.
Circumcision, originally promoted in the 19th century as a way to prevent masturbation, has become part of American medical culture. Every year, a million baby boys in the United States are subjected to this surgery, although no medical association in the world recommends it.
Some of the falsehoods currently used to support circumcision include hygiene, disease prevention, and aesthetics.
The truth is:
- The intact penis is easily cleaned throughout a boy’s and man’s lifetime.
- Circumcision does NOT prevent sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. European countries where fewer than ten percent of all men are circumcised have about the same STD rates as the United States, where circumcision is common.
- Any preference expressed by men or women for the circumcised penis is a result of cultural conditioning. Besides, as the U.S. circumcision rate declines, and the number of intact boys and men grow, the intact penis will no longer seem strange or unattractive.
Many Americans also believe that circumcision is “just a snip” – a minor, brief, and painless procedure that babies will not remember. This is FALSE, and the new AAP article on pain proves it.
Because circumcision is NOT medically necessary, and because the pain it causes is unmanageable and harmful over the long term, Intact America demands that the American Academy of Pediatrics tell its doctors to end the pain and stop circumcising baby boys.
Help us reach 29,000 signatures by February 29, 2016.
Please sign our petition TODAY.
Donald G. McNeil, Jr.’s recent New York Times article, AIDS Prevention Inspires Ways to Make Circumcisions Easier, applauded medical equipment manufacturers for producing single-use circumcision instruments efficient and “safe” enough to circumcise 20 million men in sub-Saharan Africa. The article accepted at face value claims that mass circumcision will reduce the spread of HIV, and ignored the ethical problems of a U.S.-funded sexual surgery campaign carried out upon the bodies of black African men.
On February 7, the New York Times printed two responses, one of them mine. Under the heading, Business of Circumcision, my letter reads:
To the Editor:
Re “AIDS Prevention Inspires Ways to Make Circumcisions Easier” (Jan. 31): With 20 million men targeted to undergo “assembly-line” circumcisions, it’s no surprise that medical equipment manufacturers are rushing to cash in. It appears, though, there’s no money to be made from informed consent; that issue didn’t figure anywhere in this enthusiastic report on the plans of researchers and organizations dominated by white, circumcised Westerners to surgically reduce the penises of poor, non-English-speaking Africans.
The male foreskin comprises 15 square inches of erogenous tissue. Its removal results in an open wound and permanent reduction of sexual sensation.
The second letter extols the virtues of the Shang ring, one of the two circumcision devices mentioned. The authors of this letter are physicians affiliated with the questionable research and HIV “prevention” agenda for Africa.
The plan to circumcise 20 million African men is a sinister combination of cultural/medical imperialism and the big business of international health. The researchers who have made their careers by promoting mass (and even universal) circumcision are almost all Americans. Several were known for their pro-circumcision agenda before they ever became involved in the African “trials”—which were, from the onset, really circumcision campaigns. Participants were randomized into two groups, “circumcise now” and “circumcise later,” rather than “circumcised” and “not circumcised,” which would have been the proper way to study objectively whether circumcision status truly affects HIV transmission. (See, e.g., Gray RH, Kigozi G, Serwadda D, et al., Male circumcision for HIV prevention in men in Rakai, Uganda: a randomised trial, Lancet 2007; 369: 657–66.)
Promoters of circumcision as HIV prevention, and the press reporting on these efforts, both fail to acknowledge the methodological problems with the African studies. These same researchers’ own subsequent work has shown that male circumcision actually increases women’s risk of contracting HIV from their circumcised partners. The research subjects have become victims of the intentionally promoted fallacy that circumcision is a “vaccine” against HIV. A recent investigation in Zambia showed that many men circumcised as part of a mass circumcision effort there resumed unprotected sex before their incisions healed, jeopardizing their wives or girlfriends—women who will find it very difficult to negotiate “safe sex” with men who believe they’ve just received a surgical “vaccine.”
Inextricably intertwined with the bad science is the utter disregard for ethical and public health issues begging to be acknowledged in any report on the African circumcision campaign.
How do you ensure informed consent in a population of poor, non-English-speaking men, who are being lined up, hundreds in a day, to have part of their genitals removed?
How do you ensure partner education, when men who do not know or wish to know their HIV status are being circumcised anyway, without being tested—leading them to believe that they are now “safe” from AIDS?
How, despite the promotion of single-use surgical devices, do you ensure that there is no re-use of contaminated medical instruments—syringes, scalpels, scissors, etc.—and how do you ensure safe disposal of medical waste in countries with inadequate sanitation and an underdeveloped health care infrastructure?
How do you ensure that men who develop serious complications—not to mention circumcised men and their female partners who still contract HIV—are appropriately treated and even compensated for what they have lost, due to our peculiar fixation on altering the male anatomy?
Mostly, how do we get the mainstream American press to ask these obvious questions? Why is getting the truth out dependent on me managing to get a 100-word letter printed in the New York Times?