CIN (Circumcision Information Network) 1:3

Journal  Circumcision Information Network, Volume 1, Issue 3. Wednesday, 22 June 1994.

Richard Angell

This weekly bulletin is a project of CIN, the Circumcision Information Network (formerly CIN CompuBulletin). The purpose of this weekly bulletin is to educate the public about and to protect children and other non-consenting persons from genital mutilation. Readers are encouraged to copy and redistribute it, and to contribute written material.
--Rich Angell, Editor.

As reported last week by our Canadian friend John Outspeake*,
yet another hapless boy has lost his penis due to a botched
circumcision, this one in Israel.  Complications such as
mutilation (beyond that which was intended) and even death
are not unusual, despite what you may have heard to the contrary.
According to Dr. Paul Fleiss, complications are grossly
underreported.  Following is an English translation
(original en francais) of the report from the 10 June
Translation by John Outspeake and Rich Angell:
"TEL AVIV (AFP) - The parents of a two-year-old child who
lost his penis due to an error during circumcision, have
turned to the district court of Tel-Aviv, demanding  US $800,000
in damages.
"According to the parents, the mohel--the one who performs
circumcision--cut too deeply, causing a hemorrhage, then
applied a bandage too tightly, which resulted in gangrene
of the baby's penis.
"The parents state that the baby will have to undergo
complicated surgical procedures, and will never have a
normal sex life.
"Circumcision of male children is prescribed by Genesis,
the first book of the Bible.  Seen as a symbolic act of
allegiance of the Jewish people to God, it is considered
one of the principal Commandments of the Jewish religion."
Notice that the article doesn't even mention the alleged
medical benefits of circumcision like the U.S. press does.
Most of the world outside the U.S. sees circumcision only
as a religious rite and are baffled by America's high
non-religious circumcision rate.
In the spring of 1991, I attended an annual health conference
sponsored by the medical students at Stanford University.
The topic that year was prenatal care.  I protested against
circumcision.  One woman scoffed at my suggestion that American
doctors continue to perform circumcision mainly for money.
Later, during the breakout sessions, a visiting doctor
from Quebec was presenting a breakdown of pre- and perinatal
medical expenses in his homeland.  When he showed that the
circumcision rate in the 1960s was up around 80% of all baby
boys but now next to nothing, somebody asked why the difference.
Quebec stopped paying for it.
"In other words," I spoke up, "What's really involved is money!"
No one argued with my observation.
Following are three letters which appeared on P16 of the
June 1994 American Journal of Nursing.
We also struggled with the ethical dilemma of botched
circumcisions and unconcerned physicians (Ethical Dilemmas,
March) at our own hospital.  The more we educated ourselves
about the issues, the more we came to the conclusion that
every circumcision is a botch job since it is an assault
on a childUs sexuality and a violation of his right to an
intact body.  Finally after years of strapping the babies
down for this brutal procedure and listening to their screams,
we couldnUt take it any longer.  In October 1992, 24 nurses
at our hospital became conscientious objectors to infant
Betty Katz Sperlich, RN
Mary Conant, RN
Santa Fe, NM
Here is a true professional ethical question:  How can doctors,
nurses, or parents be allowed to remove a normal, functional
body part for no known medical reason?
Daniel Skomp, RN
Keaau, HI
Circumcision is too complex an issue for tired postpartum
parents to grasp by listening to a health care provider
with a surgical permit in hand verbalize a list of pros
and cons of this surgery.  A few examples from my own
interaction with postpartum parents point to the need
for prenatal education on this matter:
%Mothers who believe there is some law or requirement
that boys must be circumcised;
%Mothers who can't explain what the word circumcision
%Mothers whose mates are circumcised, and the mates
themselves, who have no concept of the unique characteristics
related to sexual intimacy of the uncircumcised penis,
yet will make a final decision for their baby;
%Parents who are unaware of circumcision rates in other
countries, which have never approached those of the U.S.
The educated expectant parents and those who educate
them on the topic of circumcision become the best
deterrent to "botched" or unnecessary circumcisions.
Nancy R. Cooksey, BSN, ICCE, IBCLC
St. Louis, MO
%On Sunday, 10 July at 14:00, there will be a seminar on
routine infant circumcision and its options at East Stroudsburg
University Lower Dansbury Lounge.  The guest speaker will be
Dr. Thomas J. Ritter, noted surgeon and author of "Say No to
Circumcision!"  Expectant parents, grandparents, physicians,
child birth educators and the merely curious are invited.
The cost is $5 per person and limited advanced registration
is required.  Call (717) 223-1337.  The southeastern
Pennsylvania/greater Philadelphia area NOHARMM,
National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine
Mutilation of Males, has reserved a block of tickets.
For those interested contact Jim at (610) 357-2792, or
Al at (610) 489-6505. Arrangements are also being made
for those interested in car pooling.

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