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Voices — James F. Verrees, M.D., FACOG

A number of years ago, I remember delivering a baby boy, and the first thing the father asked me was, “When can he be circumcised”? The father seemed panicked. I’d never seen anything like it before. He truly seemed in an uproar that something was terribly wrong with his baby.

I told him that he would need to talk with the pediatrician.

In retrospect, I think I might have been more effective as a physician if I had replied, “You have a beautiful baby who only wants to love you and his mom. He is perfect.”

January 15, 2020 was a defining moment for me. I started a new Locums tenens (temporary) obstetrics job that day. While seated at the nurses’ station on Labor and Delivery, my body jarred at the sound of a most horrible screaming – a screech followed by the coughing sound of spittle and saliva choking a baby followed by more screaming. It was deafening. I looked at the nurse seated across from me and asked her, “What are they doing in there?” A “treatment” room was right around the corner.

The nurse replied, “They are circumcising him”.

I looked down at the ground and said, “This is just horrible. It is so unnecessary.”

More screaming and choking followed by crescendos of screeching and coughing came from around the corner. I felt sick.

The Nurse replied, “You are right”.

Shortly after that day, I began to hear a baby scream uncontrollably at night in my dreams. A horrible screaming and howling. Sometimes I hear myself say “No.” and at that point my legs jerk together and my arms also move and I wake up. Sometimes I wonder if the screaming that I hear is from the baby who was assaulted on January 15, or … is that me who I hear crying? Sometimes I have the sensation that I see bright lights, and my arms and legs suddenly cannot move. There is muffled talk, I am screaming and I have this sensation of terrific pain and more crying, but I can’t get away.

When I left this last assignment in Nevada, I remember visiting a new couple during postpartum rounds. They had their first baby the day prior. It was a truly enjoyable time as I didn’t have a clinic and could just sit and visit with the parents. They had a beautiful baby girl. I remember the father holding his daughter and seeing her move her hand up towards his face. The baby girl was making happy “cooing” sounds. The mother was looking from her bed at her daughter. Everything seemed right and beautiful. It really is an incredible sight to see, and on days like this I feel very lucky to be an obstetrician. At the same time, I thought to myself, “Why do people focus so much on circumcision when all their baby boys or girls want is to love their parents?” Their baby’s hands just want to touch their mother or father and give the parents love and be loved.

It all makes me very sad.

James F. Verrees, M.D., FACOG
Las Vegas, Nevada

Interested in lending your voice? Send us an email, giving us a brief summary of what you would like to write about, and we will get back to you.



  • Robert

    June 16, 2020 3:12 pm

    Hi, Georganne! Several years ago a young, very pregnant Hispanic woman and her monolingual Hispanic husband moved into temporary housing in our neighbor’s basement in Virginia. I noticed her leaning against a pickup truck across the street, holding her bulging abdomen and was moved to go ask her if she was having a boy or girl. She looked at me sadly and said, “A BOY!” I said “Wonderful! Are you going to have him in a hospital?” She looked at me desperately. “Yes, but I worry!” “Why are you worried?” I asked. “Because they want him circumcised. My mother say no! I don’t wanbt it. My husband he no want it too. But hospital keep asking, asking, asking, saying he is in America now!” “You are right to say no,” I said. “It isn’t necessary to circumcise him. The hospital is wrong.” “I would have him by my mother but he so big I worry if there is problem with birth!” “I see. Well, they have to get your informed consent to circumcise, but I think I can get you information to show them that you have a right not to agree to circumcision and they have to accept your decision.” “How can I make them understand?” she said. I asked her to wait a minute and ran into my house. I turned on my computer and looked up Intact America and found a statement in both English and Spanish explaining that circumcision is unnecessary and harmful to a baby and must not be performed without the parents’ consent.” I printed the bilingual statement, rushed outside, and gave it to the woman who read the Spanish statement eagerly and said, “Thank you! I will show my mother and take this to hospital. Thank you, thank you, gracias!” She gIadly took the paper and drove off in her truck. For several days I didn’t see either the woman or her husband. Then one morning the truck appeared across the street and the woman and her mother got out. The mother was carrying a baby boy. All three came across the street as I walked toward them. The grandmother said, “Gracias, senor!Gracias senior. El nino est magnifica! Gracias! Gracias!” “The mother said, “Thank you, sir! At the hospital they asked before he was born ‘Are you suuuuure you don’t want him circumcised? Not once. Not twice. They ask me NINE TIMES are you suuuure you don’t want him circumcised?” I told them NINE TIMES “Yes, I am sure and I showed them the paper you gave us. They finally agree to not circumcise him. Thank you ever so much!
    I am so grateful to Intact America for helping this happen! As mother, grandmother, and baby boy went back to the truck, I noticed the father had been driving. He leaned toward me, smiled, and gave me a thumbs-up sign. Feeling that my day had been made.

  • Howard Smith

    June 16, 2020 7:57 pm

    You are clearly an obstetrician with a strong sense of justice and ethics. Both of which are violated every time a baby boy is circumcised. I applaud your stance on this topic, and your obvious sense of empathy for the baby.

    Being subjected to MGM (circumcision) has been a huge issue for me for all of my life. I wish the doctor had simply told my mother “You know, this is not necessary”. I wish all doctors could bring themselves to say that.

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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.