10-year-old gets a tattoo, mother gets arrested

By Brian Earp

Follow Brian on Twitter by clicking here.

See Brian’s most recent prior post on this blog here.

See a list of all of Brian’s previous posts here.

 

Inking arms, piercing ears, and removing foreskins: The inconsistency of parental consent laws in the State of Georgia 

Gaquan Napier watched his older brother die in Acworth, Georgia after being hit by a speeding car. He was with him in those numbing final moments. And now Gaquan wants to keep his brother close to his own heart as he picks up the pieces and moves through life: in the form of a tattoo on his upper arm. Malik (that’s his brother’s name) plus the numbers from Malik’s old basketball jersey. Rest in peace. A memorial to his sibling and best friend, whose life was cut tragically short.

Gaquan is ten years old. So he asked his mother, Chuntera Napier, about the tattoo. She was moved by the request, by the sincerity and maturity of her son’s motivations. She assented. She took Gaquan to have the remembrance he wanted etched into his arm in ink.

Now stop the presses. Chuntera was arrested last week under child cruelty laws and for being party to a crime. Someone at Gaquan’s school had seen his tattoo and tattled to the authorities. But what was the offense?

A 2010 Georgia law states that it is categorically unlawful “for any person to tattoo the body of any person under the age of 18, except a physician or osteopath.” When it comes to tattoos, that is, parental consent is legally irrelevant in Georgia.

But why should that be so? Can someone make a moral argument for this? Is it because tattoos are irreversible, and some young kid might want a really silly tattoo that he’ll later regret? And some parents are so bad at being parents that they might allow their kid to get a really silly tattoo? And then the kid might be teased? And all of that would somehow amount to child abuse? Please fill me in.

The state, of course, does in some cases have the moral authority to override a parent in the upbringing of her child. My position is not that parents should always get the final say. Where clear-cut abuse is involved (hard as it sometimes is to pin down the clear-cut-ness of alleged abuse), then in the interests of the child, the parent should be trumped. But with respect to tattoos, why should the ban be absolute? Are tattoos so inherently harmful — so self-evidently abusive to a child who possesses one — that the pendulum of power should swing so dramatically stateside?

That’s not the worst of it. The truly troubling part involves a deep inconsistency in Georgia law regarding parental consent in general. This point can be made by offering a stark point of contrast. It is perfectly OK, under Georgia law, for a parent to consent to the surgical removal of her son’s foreskin, before he is able to form words or express an opinion, in a medically unnecessary, irreversible procedure which I have argued elsewhere is deeply problematic and certainly inconsistent with medical ethics. Tattoos? No way. Invasive, medically useless, nonconsensual genital surgery? Go right ahead.

So what is going on here? How can it be that neonatal circumcision is OK, and taking your baby daughter to have her ears pierced is fine – but allowing your 10-year old to memorialize his brother in the form of a tattoo lands you jail?

Parents exercise consent on behalf of their children, and rightly so. Children’s brains are not yet fully formed, and they are notoriously bad at making long-term decisions to their own benefit. But you can’t let your son or daughter do just anything, nor can you consent to just anything’s being done to your child’s body – and that’s appropriate too. You can’t consent to your 10-year old owning a shotgun; you can’t consent to cutting off your daughter’s ears or selling her liver – there are limits, and they have to do with harm and cruelty and risk to society. So far we’re safely in the territory of common sense.

But there are two big questions left over.

(1) Why should a parent be legally prohibited from consenting to her 10-year-old son’s getting a tattoo?

(2) Why should a parent not be legally prohibited from consenting to the circumcision of her speechless newborn?

I have answered (2) – at length – in an earlier post. The punchline is that — contrary to the law as it currently stands — parents should not be allowed to consent to medically irrelevant circumcision before the child himself is capable of stating his preferences about his own penis. Consent is the magic word, and the fulcrum of the whole debate. Read here for the full argument, relevant data, objections and replies.

The answer to (1) follows the same basic logic: people should be able to make decisions about what happens to their own bodies. Nobody else should be able to make decisions about a person’s body unless that person is incapable of giving consent and the intervention is medically necessary and the person making the decision is that person’s legal caretaker.

Tattoos are (mostly) irreversible. If your child didn’t ask for it, and certainly if the child is pre-verbal, you shouldn’t be allowed to shove a tattooing needle under his skin. That much is clear. But if the child does want a tattoo, then he should be able to say so and make that decision about his own body, so long as you, as the parent, taking everything into consideration, and exercising your own best judgment, assent.

Now, if your 10-year-old wants to get a tattoo of SpongeBob SquarePants on his forehead, you should probably say no. If your 10-year-old wants to memorialize his dead brother with some ink on his bicep, then you can still be a good parent and say yes. That’s true even if I, or some other parent, or the community at large, might want our own sons to wait a few years first. It’s a judgment call, and it’s not our concern.

Same goes for ear piercing. If a little girl wants to have her ears pierced, and her parents assent, there is nothing ethically problematic. But if the girl can’t yet sing her ABCs, then hold off on the hole-punch. If your little baby boy can’t yet pronounce sentences in his native tongue, then keep the scalpel out of his diaper. Let’s stop lacerating our children’s bodies for our own enjoyment. Let them speak their wants, when they’re able to speak their wants.

Like Gaquan. He expressed his desire. He wanted the tattoo. His mother thought it was a good idea. That the state should mark this out as illegal, and send in the authorities to arrest a citizen who’s done no harm is a gross injustice. If you don’t want a tattoo, don’t get one. If you don’t want your son to have some ink in his arm at his own request, then don’t take him to a tattoo parlor. Otherwise leave this grieving family alone and mind your own business.

Here is the upshot: if you can legally assent to your son’s foreskin being severed, when he is just-born and can’t yet speak — though you cannot morally consent to this, as I have argued — you should be able to assent to his getting a tattoo to memorialize his dead brother, when he specifically asks for it at the age of 10.

Follow Brian on Twitter by clicking here.

See Brian’s most recent prior post on this blog here.

See a list of all of Brian’s previous posts here.

 

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit

124 Responses to 10-year-old gets a tattoo, mother gets arrested

  • Hugh7 says:

    What a child of 10 wants on his body and what he wants 8 (or 60) years later may be very different – but he's stuck with the 10-year-old's idea of a suitable tattoo. Even if he still wants his brother's memorial, he may have second (and better) thoughts about the size and style and placement. So I would disagree with allowing the child to have the tattoo. But the one who should be prosecuted is the tattooist, who should know the law.

    And of course you are also right about parents cutting healthy parts off their children's genitals – already illegal, no matter how minor, sterile and anaesthetised, if the children are girls.

    • Brian Earp says:

      Hi Hugh — I agree with you that I would not allow my own child to have such a tattoo … the question is whether there is an argument that legally ANY parent should be able to consent to a child's getting a tattoo, and I think there is much more leeway to make a good argument for that.

    • Jamie Sharpe says:

      i dont think this woman should be in jail, the child said he wanted the tattoo and can you blame him his fucking brother died… if my sibiling died i would get a tattoo as well, ive been into pericings and tattoos since i was a kid, and guess what CONSIDERING my mother DID NOT AGREE TO IT, when i went to a friends house I PEIRCED myself, i could have hit anerve and fucked myself right up, so if she would have paid for it it could have been professionally.. and my tattoos i wasnt old enough to get them so you know what i did i went to a non professional and it looks like shit, so either way the kid would hve found a way to get this tattoo the mother was only being safe by making sure dirty needles we're not involved… so yeah what would you rather as a parent the kid doing it on their own and fucking something up or settign for a professional the make it look good, do you really think this kid is going to regret getting his brothers name in his arm, no the only thing he will regret is losing his mother in the short amount of time that he lost his brother thats real fucking great you heartless bastards…

      • Jamie Sharpe says:

        let alone with circumcisions all little boys want them especially when girls find them fuckign discusting and their piss gets stuck in the forskin there for as a parent you are keeping that area cleaner for the child and making it easier for them to clean besides u cant ban it anyways its a part of the jewish religion which also includes it as a right

        • The Wife says:

          @Jamie Sharpe, I'm not sure you've actually read the article — she did NOT get it done professionally, and it DOES look bad. They mention that. To be frank, you made some pretty poor choices. You put yourself at risk and marred your body with poorly executed tattoos, because you were unwilling to wait until you could do it legally and safely. You sound like you were a very troubled child. Furthermore, given that everyone who has commented seem to be in overall agreement that an arrest for this is unwarranted. In fact, saying that it's not even as horrible as circumcision, so how can they justify arresting her for it, while allowing parents to hack at their child's genitals? So… I'm not sure which person you consider to be a "heartless bastard(s)".

          As for your completely absurd statements regarding circumcision, as a woman (and a self-professed slut), I can assure you that women who are familiar with an intact penis do NOT find it "discusting" (or even disgusting). In fact, just so you know, it feels really good. Your statement that "piss" gets "stuck in the forskin" (or even foreskin) is nonsense, as men who actually know how to take care of themselves can both retract the foreskin to urinate — and men can actually, you know, CLEAN themselves. Just like women. I think my son is smart enough to clean himself, just as my daughter is. Additionally, being a religious practice does not preclude banning it. Female circumcision is done for ritual religious reasons, and the US has not only banned it, we've banned even the ceremonial letting of a single drop of blood from the genitals of baby girls. Boys are just as important as girls and should be equally protected. Hacking off a fully-functional piece of your baby's genitals (which, BTW, amounts to PENILE REDUCTION SURGERY) because you think your "god" told you to, or because you're too inept or lazy to clean them properly, is a reflection on the parents' own sexual pathology, not a desire to protect your child's well being. I am assuming, based on your mannerisms, that you're a boy, and that, if you are, you are circumcised. On behalf of all of us… I'm sorry. I'm sorry your parents had so little faith in your mental acuity that they butchered you rather than trust you to clean yourself. I'm sorry that you will never feel sex in the manner that it's supposed to be felt — as pleasurable as it can be for both partners. I'm sorry that you're such an angry person. Routine infant circumcision can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and anger and aggression is often a symptom.

          • Love Thy Neighbor says:

            @ The Wife- I've actually seen the tattoo in person and have to say it doesn't look bad at all. Of course that is just my personal opinion which we both know opinions are simply ones personal view, attitude, or appraisal towards something they feel strongly about. As Miss Chun said "He's my child, who am I to tell someone else what's best for their child"? I have a lot of respect for her as a mother. The media fails to mention that Gaquan has waited 2 years since the incident actually happened and has wanted this tattoo since it happened.

            Regardless if he is 10 yrs old or if he is 20 yrs old MANY people feel tattoos are sinful and disgusting. My brother wanted to disown me before our mother passed I started my memorial tattoo for her. She battled cancer for 7 long years and a month after she passed I had it finished. My mother saw it as a beautiful tribute to her even though she didn't see the completed artwork. My brother was still disgusted with me because his religious beliefs teach him that I am destroying my body that God gave me. It didn't matter that I was in my late 20's and had 7 yrs to figure out what I wanted to have done to HONOR my mothers memory. The flipside is that my mother was my son's best friend and it destroyed him more than anyone- (at age 3) he watched her suffer through chemo, radiation, her mastectomy as well as the several times we shaved her head between remission. He was 10 yrs old when she passed and even though he likes tattoos and wants to get one "someday" I would never have taken my child to get a tattoo regardless. He's almost 14 yrs now and still has NO tattoos I can't say that when he's older that I wouldn't consider it, but as of right now I don't feel it is appropriate for him. Of course that's how I feel about my child having them, but who am I to tell her what's best for her child?

          • The Wife says:

            LTN, I'm very sorry for your loss. I have three close relatives who have suffered through cancer — two survived, one didn't — and I know how difficult it is to see someone you love suffer through such a debilitating illness.

            I designed my first tattoo shortly after I turned 12. For six years, I still wanted it, and about a month after I turned 18, after searching out a parlor with an artist I liked, I had it done. I began designs on my second tattoo a couple of years before and got it when I was 19. I didn't get my next 2 until after my children were born, 10+ years later. I have designs for two more that I will, eventually, get. So you'll have to trust that I understand the desire, and how frustrating it can be to have to wait. But I did so because I wanted an ethical and professional artist, not just any ol' person willing to do it. Perhaps I was just particularly mature for my age, but the "benefits" of getting it done before I turned 18 (um… I wanted it?) didn't outweigh the risks (exposure to disease and poor execution). So… I waited. Because sometimes in life you shouldn't get what you want, when you want it, just because you want it. A good lesson for any child to learn. Besides, children who know for years and years what tattoo they want and where are in the vast minority. In fact, most people walk in on a whim and pick stupid flash. It's why sites like http://hanzismatter.blogspot.com and http://www.ugliesttattoos.failblog.org exist.

            As to the quality of the tattoo, let's assume that your opinion is sound and the tattoo is of adequate quality. It still doesn't change the fact that if someone is willing to violate the law in order to tattoo a minor, you cannot trust that they will be clean and safe (and trained). Which means that she put her son at risk for diseases that could eventually kill him. As any economist will tell you, the benefits/rewards of an action have to outweigh the risks/harm that the same action might cause. In this case, the only "detraction" would have been having to wait a while. By my calculations, that makes this decision a stupid one.

            You think parents should have complete autonomy over decisions that they can make over their children? If that is the case, then children are nothing more than chattel and child abuse of even the most egregious kind cannot be considered a crime. If they AREN'T chattel, and there are times when it is necessary for laws to have the final say, perhaps you think it should only apply if there is harm to the child? Well, then, if the child DID contract a disease, would you still maintain that it was his parent's right to put him at risk for harm? As a former social worker, I'm gonna have to say no to that one. Sometimes it'd necessary for *someone* to step in and say "no" — especially when it's clear that the parent isn't capable of doing it. That's not to say that arresting and/or jailing her is an applicable punishment for this mom. On the other hand, if her son had contracted hep-C from an unclean tattoo, I'd have to change my opinion. So in this, she is simply lucky.

        • Willow Blunt says:

          You would never say such things unless you are circumcised. No man with his entire penis in his hand would say something like that.
          As for religious rights, I'm sure many muslims would agree with you so they can get their daughters done.

        • Aubrie says:

          You should probably do some research before spouting off your ignorant opinions… just saying. It's clear to anyone educated on the matter that you are not. In fact, women find sex with intact men to be more enjoyable (thats a fact btw, look it up)… and I can personally attest to that. When you change form, you change function. The penis is meant to function with it's foreskin. Removing it removes the gliding mechanism (and several other important functions) that make sex more comfortable and pleasurable for both partners. So as a woman, I can say that, no, I do not find the foreskin disgusting.

          And NOT all boys want to be circumcised. Many men make an effort to RESTORE what is left of thier foreskins, after their parents wrongfully had them cut off. The foreskin protects the glans (head) from becoming caloused and losing sensitivity. Also, the foreskin itself contains 75% of the nerve endings in the penis (over 70,000!) and is the MOST pleasurable part of the penis. The foreskin is more pleasurable than the most pleasurable part of the glans. So, no, not all men want to be circumcised. Unfortunately restoration only stretches the skin back out over the glans, all those sensitive nerve endings are gone forever.

          And as for cleanliness, it's a myth that a circumcised penis is cleaner. In fact, it's easier to keep an intact baby's penis clean that a mutilated one. Fact. Look it up.

          As far as religion goes, that's complete crap. Religious freedom ends where another person's body begins. Children are people, not property. It's part of some people's religion to mutilate little girls genitals too, but that IS illegal. Our baby boys deserve equal rights to bodily integrity and autonomy.

          There. Now you're more educated on the subject than you ever have been, as everything I've said here is fact. Don't believe me? You don't have to. Look it up. That's right, be a big girl and do a little reading before you open your mouth or start pounding away on your keyboard…

    • AJ says:

      I just have one question about your response. You claim that a 10 year old cannot form a valid judgement of what he wants on his body because he may change his perception later down the road.

      "What a *person* of 10 wants on his body and what he wants 8 (or 60) years later may be very different – but he’s stuck with the 10-year-old’s idea of a suitable tattoo."

      HOW ABOUT "What a *person* of 18 wants on his body and what he wants 8 (or 60) years later may be very different – but he’s stuck with the *18*-year-old’s idea of a suitable tattoo."

      AND HOW ABOUT What a *person* of 35 wants on his body and what he wants 8 (or 60) years later may be very different – but he’s stuck with the *35*-year-old’s idea of a suitable tattoo.

      Where is the magical cut-off where we can see the end result of every future decision?

      By this logic are you saying that when someone reaches the magical age of 18 they now have to ability to see exactly how their perceptions will play out, as you say, 60 years from now. Also by this logic there are no 18 year old people that get a tattoo that they regret?

      Peoples perceptions constantly change and this why ANY tattoo at ANY age is serious decision. Is his brother not going to be dead in 8 years? Will he have a life altering epiphany in 8 years that lends the gift of future telling? We have to remember that the age of 18 is simply a number our society has agreed upon and in no way shape or form speaks to the capacity to form educated decisions. Simply put I was a great kid when I was 10. I was thoughtful, optimistic, caring. I volunteered all the time at probably 50+ events in my community, walked neighbors dogs, mowed/shoveled elderly neighbors lawns/driveways. By the time I was 18 I was a little punk-ass "stoner"/party animal/ technically a criminal who couldn't pick out respectable clothing let alone form a decision on a permanent tattoo. But given yours and others on this post way of thinking I was somehow magically more insightful simply because, and for no other reason, than that I have been living on this earth for a 18 years, NOTHING MORE. Not based on my merits or achievements, not based on a universal aptitude or critical thinking test but simply spending 6570 days on this Earth, all of which could technically be spent raping, pillaging plundering, killing babies, and worshiping Satan so long as I haven't been apprehended by a law enforcement agency of some kind. What I'm getting at is why should someone who is obviously able to make 'A' decision relative to his life not be allowed to and have to wait another, in this case 8 years, to make what would most likely be the same decision.

      Some might be thinking, "well its obvious, you are more educated and mature when you are 18 than when you are ten"…. Educated, possibly (though once again I could have failed every single class, test, and pretty much failed life and still be that magical 18 years old). But more mature, how can anyone possibly define that? And furthermore why is it 6570 days I have to spend before someone thinks I can make a decision. Why not just 6000 or 3500 days?

      <b> ANY <b> tattoo at <b> ANY <b> age at <b> ANY <b> time is permanent and important undertaking that should be carefully considered by both the person wanting the tattoo and the legal guardian making sure that the child uses good decision making.

      Allow me to argue against myself. "well what If the kid wanted to get a tattoo of, say Daffy Duck or Superman. Is that good parenting" Whether or not one agrees with the subject matter of the tattoo is irrelevant. The most important factor here is that the parent needs to explain, exemplify, or otherwise influence good decision making skills. Taking the time to explain the ins and outs of getting a tattoo. The long term repercussions of decisions in general. Explaining permanent decisions and how they affect your life later on. Actually teaching and engaging the child rather than simply prohibiting him from something. What does that teach the child? Simply not allowing someone something with a blanket ban teaches nothing and in no way fosters good intelligent decision making.

      Now this kid is 18. He's never had the opportunity to make an important decision because Georgia just simply says, "nope you can't do it, end of story, bye" He's never had to consider consequences of permanent decisions and ramifications of them. So he says, hey I've never had to intelligently decide anything for myself before so it can't be that hard, plus Georgia says that now I'm 18 I can't possibly make a bad decision *turns to a girl he met during a drunken party* "hey lets go have sex at which point he impregnates the other party involved or (insert stupid decision here)" and off they go. Now he has permanently affected someone else's life as well because he's never gotten to see long term consequences or had to make and educated important decision.

      All I'm saying is that instead of blanket banning <i> some things <i> why don't we take the time to instill and teach good educated decision making in children. If someone is never allowed to make a decision until they're 18 how in the hell is that person going to be able to all of the sudden be able to make good decisions when they are 18. And what worse is you now have access to commit far more stupid or detrimental decisions being that you are considered an "adult"

      It may sound like pushing tough love to far but lets say worst case scenario 10 years from now he says, "man maybe that wasn't the best choice, I don't hate it but it could have been done better" I can guaran-frickin-tee you that he will consider his next decisions and the consequence with much better reasoning and decision making skills than if he never regretted anything. Or we can just not allow someone to make any decisions, essentially make them for the person by blanket banning something, so when they turn 18 they've never had to experience consequence of a permanent decision (not the choice to stay up to late or not put your toys away, an actual impactful long-term decision), hop in there car drunk and (God forbid) hit a pedestrian. I will choose the former scenario every time.

      • The Wife says:

        @AJ, personally I think that cut off should be increased to 25. Studies have shown that the human brain is constantly growing and developing — and doesn't reach full maturity until approximately the age of 25. It makes no sense to me that we can ship someone out to die for their country at 18, but we can't let them have a beer before they do. If we're going to say they're not responsible enough to drink until they're 21, then we need to raise the age of adulthood to 21. If we're going to say that someone is an adult at 18, we need to give them full adult rights at 18. But if we're going to make judgments based on biology, 25 is the only age that isn't completely arbitrary.

      • The Wife says:

        @AJ, and totally out of curiosity, were you a bit more… "normal" at 25? Most kids are fairly even keeled until they hit puberty, then they basically go crazy. They tend to even out at about 25. It's a phenomenon I've witnessed over and over…

        • AJ says:

          I agree with almost everything you presented but when we place someone in the adult category needs to be a whole new thread/topic. I also concur fully with your point of joining the military v.s. the drinking age. Which is most likely why many countries having no drinking age and even more countries allow a drinking age of 18. These countries that allow the drinking age to be 18 total more than every country allowing drinking ages <i>other<i> than 18 combined. So once again we come back around to the, "when are you an adult" argument. Now your medical evidence is definitely valid but, like I said, this needs a whole additional thread to discuss. This was mostly focused on where the line of parental consent is placed and not necessarily when one becomes an adult. As I mentioned you points are completely valid and well founded and are both intertwined to some extent but are still different arguments from the original post pertaining to parental consent.

          In response to your second post. I will let you know when I get there :D . I'm currently 21 and within the last one and a half years completely "turned my life around" as some may put it. After seeing a couple friends murdered in cold blood while "working in the same field" as myself I knew I needed to get the hell out. I was incredibly fortunate to 'withdraw' from the 'business' and have a nearly spotless record which is incredibly rare among the people I associated with. I have recently become employed as an EMT and am currently taking a pre-med curriculum at a well renowned university. I can unequivocally guarantee that I now posses great decision making skills due to the regrets I've had in my past. It has essentially made me the forward thinking, realistic person I am today. Almost so much so that I don't FULLY regret my past. My stupid decisions play no part in this discussion regarding to parental consent but my point is simply that because I was able to learn from my (many) mistakes and I have become, hell I'll sound arrogant, a great person today and striving to improve everyday. Once again your point is completely valid as most of the stupid decisions I've seen made have been performed by my 16-22 year old acquaintances.

  • Bjorn Bengtsson says:

    I agree that the laws (circumcision and tattoos) are inconsistent. So far, so good.

    I may personally also lean against circumcision (of children), but I can see arguments for and against the practice, and it's not entirely clear to me that there is a waterproof case for it being necessarily wrong. Your text reads more lika a rethorical argument against something you personally dislike, rather than a dispassionate attempt to flesh out the logics of an ethical dilemma.

    The case for (or against) parental consent (to tattoos or to anything else) sems to boil down to a question of whether it can ever be right for a government to override the decisions of a parent (or a citizen) in matters only (?) affecting his or her children (or him- or her self).

    One answer is that it is never OK. Personal freedom takes precedence, always.

    Another line of reasoning is that the answer depends on the actions of the individual and their consequences. There is a lot too say about this, of course, but in the end, in some cases it may be OK for government to infringe on personal freedom.

    Also involved here is the question of how to define a responsible individual, capable of (and therefore allowed to) making decisions freely. Age is a rather crude measure: where do you draw the line between children and (legal) adults? 15? 18? 20? Are *all* adults responsible, in equal measure. There are several factors impinging upon the quality of decisions and the level of responsibility of individuals. Should they be ignored? When? Always?

    In the end, you seem to advance the personal opinion that individuals should be free to do as they please, to the greatest extent possible. I respect your opinion, even though I do not agree with it, personally.

    You are aware, of course, of the dilemma of liberalism: You cannot have total individual freedom without (possibly negative) consequences to others. People cannot coexist peacefully without some restriction to individual freedoms.

    It is not clear to me that it is *always* wrong for government to override a parents decision consering his or her child. Hugh7 points out one reason in the first comment above. The authority of social services are another example of where a community overrides individual freedom in the long-term interest of others.

    You need not agree with my opinion, of course, but you might agree that your post is more of a personal statement than a neutral delineation of the ethical problem.

    Regards,

    /Bjorn, Sweden

    • Brian Earp says:

      Hi Bjorn — I've updated a part of my post to address some of your concerns. But there's still probably some confusion …

      (1) Arguments for/against circumcision are presented more fully in the post to which I link in this one — I try to make a more "waterproof" case there, though not entirely dispassionately, and I link at the end of THAT post to a very well-written analytical philosophy piece on the same issue. I do have a bone to pick, and I've used this blogging platform (as opposed to an academic journal) as a venue to press an opinion, just as you say. I do hope to persuade some readers, and to do so partially on the basis of emotional appeal.

      (2) I do think the government is sometimes morally justified in overriding a parent in the upbringing of her child. I've added a paragraph to that effect, since it wasn't clear in the initial draft.

      (3) I certainly do NOT think that personal freedom ALWAYS takes precedence in the ethics of behavior, and I'm not sure that my post implies this. In fact, my point is very strongly that a person is NOT entitled to take actions which harm others without their consent. I do ascribe to a (roughly) libertarian philosophy, according to which people should be maximally free to take actions, SO LONG AS those actions do not harm others, or cause major detriment to the overall functioning of society. My post is consistent with that view, but not with the view (which you seem to peg me with) that people should be "as free as possible" … without the important caveat regarding harm.

      (4) I don't have to draw a line between children and legal adults to make my case. All I'm saying is that IF a parent can consent to radical aesthetic surgery for a nonverbal child, then for legal consistency, the parent should be able to consent to a tattoo if the child has specifically requested it. Parental consent on behalf of children works in this scenario no matter what arbitrary cut-off you use to define a child vs. adult.

      (5) To reiterate, I do NOT think that it is *always* wrong for the government to override a parent. But since that wasn't clear, as I say, I've edited my post in light of your feedback.

      Thank you very much for your thoughtful contribution,

      Brian

      • Bjorn Bengtsson says:

        Thanks for your kind response.

        Legal consistency is perhaps not always required or appropriate.

        • Bjorn Bengtsson says:

          Your position: "…people should be maximally free to take actions, SO LONG AS those actions do not harm others…" is a testament to the dilemma of libertarianism, since it inevitably leads to the nontrivial (and probably insoluble) questions of what *does* cause harm to who, when, etc., and — most importantly — who should be the arbiter of those questions.

          Your statement: "My post is consistent with that view…" is a point in case: You yourself obviously do not regard the tattoo in question as "harm", but others might well do so, even — as Hugh7 pointed out — the child himself at a later stage, or indeed a possibly remorseful parent. It isn't entirely impossible that the tattoo will cause some "detriment" to society, at least in the eyes of some. Since you personally seem to find either of these possibilities too remote to even mention, you are, in effect, appointing yourself arbiter in a case which (potentially) *does* concern others.

  • The Wife says:

    I'll tell you what my single biggest problem is with the tattoo (since I 100%, unequivocally, agree with you regarding the immorality of circumcision and that this is a fully adequate comparison): No ethical and safe tattooist would violate the law to tattoo a 10 year old. That means that the person who does/did tattoo a young minor is working outside the bounds of ethical and legal requirements. Which means that the boy was put at risk of disease, such as Hepatitis C, or even infection leading to death. Additionally, the QUALITY of the tattoo would be highly suspect. So despite the boy's perhaps reasonable desire, I would have made him wait — solely for his safety, and to ensure the quality of what is permanently etched on his body. Sort of why you shouldn't have a person without medical training circumcise a baby on a kitchen table. Oh, wait, that's actually happened…

    • Jamie Sharpe says:

      actually as long as u have your gaurdian with you it doesnt matter u fuckin moron… the kids brother died.. a tattoo is no big deal atleast he got it professionally instead of some kid using a needle on him that was used on 20 other people with or without the mothers concent he would have dont it any ways so clearly u are not a mother or not a good one because when they get older u will never know hwat they actually do

      *props for the girl that made sure it was atleast a clean needle*

      • The Wife says:

        @Jamie Sharpe, Unfortunately, the mother was unable to find a reputable tattooist to ink her son, and she had it done unprofessionally and in a poorly executed manner — as, it appears, your own were. I am a mother of 2 children, I have tattoos, I believe children CAN make sound judgments, but that (as you illustrate) few do. And I believe that the risks the mother took in having her son inked by a non-professional illustrate incredibly poor judgment on her part. If she could not find a safe, ethical shop to tattoo her son, she should have waited. As for it being acceptable as long as you have your guardian with you, that's clearly not the case here. In many locales you can have a tattoo or non-ear-piercing done with a parent/guardian present, but only if you are over the age of 16, and that prior to that you cannot have it done at all. That law is in place to safeguard children who are not getting tattoos by their own choice, but whose parents are making the choice for them. It's not too late to educate yourself — on just about every topic. You clearly need to, as your posts exhibit a lack of understanding, a low level of intelligence, and a mind unable to grasp the finer points of logic.

  • Mary Lanser says:

    Very good article. I agree with the one poster who said "personal freedom takes precedence always"….. and infants have rights to, especially to body integrity. This so often gets overlooked by well meaning parents, religions, and even by government. I personally think the mother who took the child for a tattoo should not have been arrested, however her judgement in doing so has to be questioned. Perhaps rather than an arrest, some counseling and education on the matter would have been more appropriate. But the problem is with the double standard, of tattooing children = arrest; but cutting the healthy genitals of a perfectly normal infant = legal and profitable. This is what is wrong with the picture and a infant male is cut legally in the U.S. every 26 minutes. This has to change.

    • Bjorn Bengtsson says:

      I certainly did *not "say" that personal freedom always takes precedence. If anything, I argued against that position. Furthermore, I was talking about the *parent's* freedom, rather than the child's.

  • Hugh7 says:

    "…a infant male is cut legally in the U.S. every 26 minutes."
    If only! It's every 26 SECONDS. (I've worked it out twice, years apart, and the figure hasn't changed because the birth rate has risen as the circumcision rate fell.)

  • Frank says:

    Brian,

    Thanks for the excellent article. However, I suspect a major backlash from the pro-circ crowd. Which is fine…..they are entitled to their opinion, however misguided I believe they may be.

    As someone who finds the procedure messed up, the only thing I find worse than the actual procedure is the cultural attitudes surrounding the practice. Subconsciously we know there is something inherently wrong with slicing skin off of an unconsenting infant. Hence, we SEARCH (not find) for all these medical "benefits." A cure in search of a disease if you will.

    If the practice is truly innocent, we wouldn't have this bizarre obsession to justify it. Masturbation came first, then paralysis, gout and another 100 ailments came after, then came hygiene, cancer, etc. etc. etc, UTIs, and HIV now.

    The health benefits can all be proven to be excuses as female infants and adults suffer from all conditions supposedly prevented by circumcision at even higher instances in most situations. Female infants suffer UTIs at nearly 10x that of the uncircumcised male counterpart. Smegma and hygiene are another double standard. For anyone who has confusion as to what I'm referring to, take a look at your local grocery store and phone book. There are many more gynecologists than urologists and there's a whole aisle in the grocery store dedicated to feminine hygiene. When I hear a mother circumcise her son for "hygiene" it's the pot calling the kettle black.

  • Fred Rhodes says:

    In general, a tattoo indicates that the person was most likely in prison for murder. A parent without a clear head may not think about this, besides the epidurmis organ is not fully mature and the image engraved will distort with maturity. Wait until finish growing.

    In general, an infant or childhood circumcision is only necessary when an adult,ie, doctor, nurse, parent or older sibling, is uneducated on the physiological functions, proper care and use of their patients prepuce organ and causes severe scarring and/or infections. Using circumcision as a preventative for ignorance before the child has matured through puberty may cause psychological and physical dammage to the adult he will become. Wait until he actually needs one or for him to decide if he wants one.

    A healthy epidurmis is sexually desireable and mutilating children's will deffinately affect their choices later in life.

    The munchausen affect applies to men and women who were physically and verbally traumatised as infants and children by their caretakers. This may have a negative effect on the society these children grow up in and should be discourages/prevented.
    http : / / w w w. medicinenet . com / munchausen _ syndrome / page 2 . h t m

  • The Wife says:

    @Fred Rhodes, While I agree with your thoughts on circumcision, I very strongly disagree with your interpretation of the presence of tattoos. 100 years or so ago, tattoos were prevalent only among men in the military and those in the criminal life. But over time tattooing has become not just common, but socially acceptable. Only specific TYPES of tattoos have been linked to or associated with prison, and only a few are considered to have links to murder (http://www.tattoosymbol.com/just-for-site/spider-web.html). Tattoos as a whole do NOT "indicate(s) that the person was most likely in prison for murder" and it doesn't take any type of thought, clear or not, to recognize that. I've never been in prison, for murder or anything else, and my "Thing 1" and "Thing 2" tattoos in honor of my children would not imply that to ANYONE. While I do not agree with tattooing minors (for the reasons I've previously mentioned as well as because they are not mature enough to make such a lasting decision), nothing about this boy's tattoo in honor of his brother would lead ANYONE to think he was a prisoner or a murderer.

  • Anne says:

    "professional" + "tatoo artist" = oxymoron

    • Anne says:

      sorry for the misspelling, intended to type "tattoo"

    • The Wife says:

      A sadly ignorant comment. Whether you like them or not, to imply that every person who uses tattoo as a medium is going to be either unethical or untrained belies a level of disdain not reflected in truth. I have seen horrible tattoos, yes. And I've seen unprofessional inkers. But I have also seen beautiful tattoos, wonderfully executed, by true artists who use ink as their medium. You don't have to like them, but you don't have to try to insult everyone who does.

  • Suzy says:

    I think parents should be free to decide that circumcision is appropriate for their sons for medical reasons. You don't have to agree with it personally in order to agree that it ought to be a legal option; otherwise, we need to be second-guessing a lot of other medical choices that parents are allowed to make for their children. I'm not prepared to grant that kind of authority to the state. For all the people in this thread who think it's absolutely crystal clear that circumcision has no medical benefit, there are others who reach the opposite conclusion, not because of some kind of religious or cultural bias, but because they actually thought it over and weighed the medical evidence.

    Given that a tattoo is not usually done for medical reasons, I don't think there's any inconsistency in prohibiting tattoos for children while allowing circumcision. However, I'd be inclined to allow parents to decide about tattoos in most cases as well. In this case you could even argue there was a "psychological health" justification for allowing the child to get the tattoo, and again, is the state the right entity to decide whether that reason was sufficient? I'd rather trust parents to make some bad calls, than hand over yet another such liberty to the state.

    • The Wife says:

      There are — <I>extremely</I> rarely — sometimes medical reasons for circumcision. However, what we are talking about is *routine* infant circumcision (RIC). And in that regard, no official medical organization *in the world* recommends it. There have been *zero* documented medical benefits to it. And it causes *irreparable* harm to EVERY boy. And yes, even in those extremely rare cases where it is medically necessary; it's just that then, supposedly, the benefits outweigh the damages and risks. Of course, in truth, even most cases of supposed medical "necessity" there are often *numerous* options that are less drastic than forced penile reduction surgery.

      As to your belief that there are parents who genuinely research the topic and reach the conclusion that RIC *is* necessary, well… I have never met that person. Every single pro-circumcision person I have EVER interacted with has either not done any research at all (and admits to that) or is so woefully ignorant on the topic that it's obvious that they've done no research on the topic whatsoever. Or, if they did any at all, they specifically sought out any justification for it that they could, because they've usually got at least a passing understanding of the alleged benefits (though they can't provide any source for it that hasn't been thoroughly debunked). But no understanding at all of the myriad reasons NOT to mutilate their child. The vast majority have never seen one performed and have no idea what is done to their child. If they ARE "in the room" they never actually watch it. They don't watch their days old baby's body as he is *given an erection* before his foreskin is forcibly *ripped* away from the gland (head), from which it is adhered, like your fingernail is to your finger. They don't watch their son's penis as it is *crushed* in a clamp and the doctor who has sworn to do no harm cuts away at it *without adequate pain relief.*. There are only a handful of people that I have ever encountered who have watched a video of a "normal" circumcision and not come away horribly disgusted by it. And five minutes (or less) of talking to them shows them to either be *completely* in denial… Or a (sexual) sadist, who sees the infliction of *horrendous, unimaginable pain* being inflicted on the helpless baby that they are supposed to love as "not a big deal." I haven't met a single pro-circer who still feels that way after learning the truth — without them being some of the most disgusting people I have ever met. Those who actually educate themselves feel tremendous guilt over what they've done to their sons. The men who actually learn what's been done to them (outside of some vague notion that it makes them cleaner and the mistaken idea that most women prefer it, a la Jamie up there) come to resent the unapologetic parent.

      If you have already had your child cut, I suggest you start practicing how you're going to explain away what you paid someone to do to him, and then beg his forgiveness. Because as he gets older, with so many of his friends being left intact, he's going to figure it out — and he's going to wonder how you can *possibly* justify what was done to him. Teaching people the harms of circumcision now will save them — and their sons — regret and remorse later on.

      • Suzy says:

        Here's the thing: some people don't agree with you that there are no medical benefits. Some don't even agree with you that the procedure is a big enough deal to be worried about in the same way that we would, say, carefully consider other kinds of surgical intervention. Now, I personally agree that, other things being equal, we should never circumcise. It's not a trivial decision. However, I disagree with you about potential benefits. The question now is, why should you, or the state as a whole, be able to decide that matter for me? Sometimes we might want the state to intervene, when consequences are life-or-death. Maybe a parent refuses to allow a child to have a lifesaving appendectomy, so a judge orders that it can be done without their consent. However, I don't believe either this case or the tattoo case rise to that level, where the state needs to intervene.

        You may still think the procedure is immoral, and so you may wish to lobby against it. However, I might gently suggest that you're going about it the wrong way, when you suggest that people who circumcise are either idiots, sadists, or both. The picture you paint of circumcision and its psychological and moral aftermath is not quite accurate. The exaggerations might lead a reasonable person to suppose that your claims about the matter can't generally be trusted.

        • Mary Lanser says:

          There are some people who don't agree with anything…..oh well. The problem with people who don't believe in facts, is they are in denial and choose to be ignorant. There are no medical benefits to infant circumcision. Even if you choose to believe in the ridiculous claims that it protects against HIV and STD's….an infant is not "at risk" of any of those things! A parent should not be consenting to cutting off a legitimate, normal body part of their baby's anatomy based on a claim that wouldn't even affect that child for years and years. That is absurd! A parent should only be allowed to make surgical decisions on a minor in a case where there is an immediate medical need. Infant circumcision is NOT an immediate medical need! It is absolutely unethical for anyone to be cutting off a part of another individual's body, without their own consent. An infant can't consent, therefore circumcision should be banned. Right now it's legal, but that doesn't mean it's ethical in any way, shape or form. That's the difference.

          • Suzy says:

            If I could cut off my kid's earlobe today to prevent her from ever having an appendectomy twenty years from now, I would do it in a flash. Maybe not everyone would, but I think it would be a clear-cut case (ha) where parents should be allowed to decide the matter. So, I don't buy the arguments about normal body parts or immediate medical need. I do things to my children all the time to which they haven't consented… eyedrops for pinkeye spring straight to mind! So the issue of consent is not relevant as long as the justification is sufficient. Granted, you think the justification is insufficient in this case, and that anyone who differs with you is simply in denial and chooses to be ignorant. However, a lot of doctors differ with you here. I have trouble just dismissing that with a handwave, and saying that people should not be allowed to listen to what their doctors say because the medical community has not reached total consensus on this issue.

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, Again your analogies are flawed and completely uncomparable: pink eye drops to treat an infection vs. wholesale removal of a functional body part because there *might* be a problem. Rather than comparing it to using eye drops, you should rather be comparing it to removing your child's eye because they MIGHT get pink eye at some point in their lives. Even if that were true (well, it is — they don't get pink eye without the mucous membranes), the benefits are greatly outweighed by the risks and the detrimental effects that the child would suffer. Is a child being at risk of DEATH worth preventing a *potential* UTI? How about a child being at risk of having his *entire penis destroyed*? Is that worth the possible prevention of a potential UTI? Well, okay, I suppose if his penis is DESTROYED then he's unlikely to contract an STD. Oh, there you go! Just remove it all together!

            "I have trouble just dismissing that with a handwave, and saying that people should not be allowed to listen to what their doctors say because the medical community has not reached total consensus on this issue."

            Except that the medical community HAS reached total consensus. EVERY ONE. The US "policy" (as stated by the AAP) is:

            "Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. In circumstances in which there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child's current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child. To make an informed choice, parents of all male infants should be given accurate and unbiased information and be provided the opportunity to discuss this decision. If a decision for circumcision is made, procedural analgesia should be provided."

            The consensus is that there MIGHT be benefits, however they are not sufficient to recommend RIC. And that the *best interest of the child* should be the deciding factor. The arbitrary removal of a significant portion of the sexual organs of a newborn is NOT in their best interest. I cannot fathom how anyone can consider it to be reasonable. It is completely beyond me.

            Not to mention that OTHER countries are even more clear in their opposition to circumcision:

            "2010 ROYAL AUSTRALASIAN COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS
            "Ethical and human rights concerns have been raised regarding elective infant male circumcision because it is recognized that the foreskin has a functional role, the operation is non-therapeutic and the infant is unable to consent. After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand."
            "The foreskin has two main functions. Firstly it exists to protect the glans penis. Secondly the foreskin is a primary sensory part of the penis, containing some of the most sensitive areas of the penis."
            "The potential harms include contravention of individual rights, loss of choice, loss of function, procedural and psychological complications. . . . A boy circumcised as an infant may deeply resent this when he grows older; he may want what he cannot have – not to have been circumcised. . . . The option of leaving circumcision until later, when the boy is old enough to make a decision for himself does need to be raised with parents and considered. . . . The ethical merit of this option is that it seeks to respect the child’s physical integrity, and capacity for autonomy by leaving the options open for him to make his own autonomous choice in the future." "

            "2006 BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
            “The BMA does not believe that parental preference alone constitutes sufficient grounds for performing a surgical procedure on a child unable to express his own view. Parental preference must be weighed in terms of the child's interests. . . . The BMA considers that the evidence concerning health benefit from non-therapeutic circumcision is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for doing it. . . . Some doctors may wish to not perform circumcisions for reasons of conscience. Doctors are under no obligation to comply with a request to circumcise a child.” "

            "2002 CANADIAN PAEDIATRIC SOCIETY (REAFFIRMED 1996 POSITION)
            “Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.” "

            Want more? If you want medical consensus, how much consensus is ENOUGH?

          • Suzy says:

            Obviously, I did not say that circumcision is literally like pinkeye; rather, that is but one small example of the many times when I force my children to endure medical treatments to which they do not consent. I'm sure you would do the same. So the question here is, when does the justification for a medical intervention become weak enough that parents should no longer have the freedom to choose it for their child? The tattoo case is, of course, different because the child wanted the tattoo and the parent was agreeing, rather than forcing it on an unwilling child. I think you may be getting so caught up in the need to argue against circumcision as immoral in every possible circumstance that you are losing sight of this underlying question. Other examples might be much more helpful. What if appendectomies, for example, had precisely the same risks and procedural difficulties as male infant circumcisions? Would we allow parents to choose a procedure like this, despite all of the drawbacks you've described? If so, then at what point do we decide that it's no longer possible to allow such liberty?

            The AAP does not recommend RIC, but it also doesn't recommend against it. So it's not that they don't think there's enough evidence to support parents who choose to do it; rather, they don't think there's enough evidence to recommend that it be done as a general rule. That's different. Maybe they will change this position, and maybe they should come out more strongly against it, I don't know. However, my point is simply that parents could reasonably examine this evidence, with all due concern for the well-being of their children, and decide either one way or the other without being sadists, ignorant, or any of the other ad homimen things you want to mention. Since that is so, I'd like to keep them free to exercise the decision-making in this matter, rather than having the state restrict their actions, because I generally think we should err on the side of liberty in such things.

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, You asked for medical consensus. I gave you medical consensus. No official medical organization in the entire world recommends RIC. Unfortunately, despite the US government making FGM, you're right, they do NOT recommend it, but they haven't yet said that they recommend *against it* — though other medical organizations throughout the world DO. So… AAP: Not for it. Other medical groups: vehemently against it. Somehow that's not enough consensus. Not to mention that, if you read the AAP opinion on FEMALE circumcision, their reasoning for not supporting it is because 1) it's illegal, and 2) it's not performed frequently in this country. So why haven't they come out more strongly against it? Because if they do (without legal backing) they're accused of being anti-semitic (I suppose I must be anti-semitic if I am opposed to animal sacrifice, too, since the Torah requires it), and without the LEGAL backing, they can still make money off of it. Always follow the money. That "useless flap of skin" is worth a lot of money to a lot of doctors and hospitals. They're not gonna stop their money train until they're forced to. That would be stupid.

            What inference can possibly be made, other than that a person who chooses to disregard these official positions and warnings is doing so not out of some genuine (albeit misguided) belief that it has a genuine medical benefit… but either out of sheer denial, complete ignorance, or sadistic intent? I have given those three options, because under the circumstances, there's no other inference for me to make. If someone refuses to do any research whatsoever, then they are acting out of denial (they don't WANT to learn that it's bad, they want to blindly believe it's good). Which leads to the second reason, ignorance. If someone refuses to do any research, they have chosen to remain ignorant. Let's assume, however, that because (in the US, though nowhere else in the secular world) it's so common, they just assume it should be done. That's still ignorance. It's just not willful ignorance. If, however, a person actually DOES research the topic (and I mean genuinely researches it, not just says "my doctor said I should" or specifically only looks for pro-circumcision to support the decision they WANT to make), and despite the knowledge that RIC serves no medical or therapeutic purpose and is not recommended by any official health organization in the world, and after actually watching what will be done to their child (the pain, the disfigurement, and the many fairly common to incredibly severe complications, including, but not limited to, death), still decides that aesthetics or their sexual preferences are more important that both their child's well being, then I can only assume that they WANT to inflict pain on their son. How else can they justify it?

            You continue to use completely absurd comparisons to bolster your opinion. Appendectomies? A person will DIE if their appendix ruptures. Eg: Medical necessity. A person MIGHT die if their appendix ruptures. Yet we don't remove a healthy appendix from anyone (child or adult) on a whim. There ARE significant health RISKS to an appendectomy. Complications such as infection and death. I know this, you see, because my husband had one, and I had to act as his medical proxy. See, the risks of him dying WITHOUT the surgery were greater than the risks of him dying FROM the surgery. If his appendix ruptured, he would most likely die. If he had the surgery, he most likely wouldn't.

            A person will not DIE from the presence of a foreskin. Even the "medical problems" claimed to be associated with a foreskin, such as phimosis and UTIs, are curable by much less invasive means. Your comparison is flawed on many levels, but not the least of which is, if your appendix is about to rupture, rubbing creams on it or taking an antibiotic won't help. Yet for all those "problems" that foreskins "cause" (that are magically not common in any other country in the world, despite the vast majority of men in the world owning intact penises), most CAN be solved by rubbing creams on it or taking an antibiotic. When a baby girl gets a UTI (up to 10x more common in girls than intact boys), we don't hack up her genitalia. Why is THAT the answer for a minor infection in a boy? And yes, it IS a minor infection. A simple UTI, even in a child, is not considered important enough for an emergency room visit. Not urgent, not emergent, why would surgery be the primary answer? If an appendectomy served no medical purpose, and was done solely for the belief that it was more attractive, cleaner, or because someone wanted to prevent the possibility of a problem in the future, yet still carried the same RISKS that it does? I would not have allowed my husband to have an appendectomy. In that case the imminent risks (death) outweighed the theoretical risks (death). In the case of RIC, the imminent risks (none) far outweigh the theoretical risks (death) and the verified risks (scarring, loss of sensation, etc, that effect EVERY circumcised penis). In the very (very) rare instance that there is genuine medical need, the imminent risks (usually an inability to urinate, which can cause significant health problems, specifically to the bladder, and can lead to death) typically outweigh the theoretical risks (death). Unfortunately, most people don't think that way. It's about logic, and the reasons given for RIC are not, as I have demonstrated, logical.

            "I’d like to keep them free to exercise the decision-making in this matter, rather than having the state restrict their actions, because I generally think we should err on the side of liberty in such things."

            *I* would like to see these future MEN "free to exercise the decision-making in this matter" — as it is THEIR bodies, THEY will have to live with them, and THEY should be entitled to be free from the infliction of pain and disfigurement caused by the preferences (whether those be spiritual or sexual) of their parents. Apparently, at least so far as I can tell, to you children (at least boys) are not entitled to any liberties regarding their own bodies. I suppose any type of abuse inflicted, so long as the parents claim that their *intentions* were good, should be allowed? Because RIC serves just as much purpose as any other form of physical and sexual abuse (by definition, which I have already provided). Which is, none.

        • The Wife says:

          @Suzy, Let's assume, by some miracle, you are correct, and a person has *actually* done SOME amount of research (but we know that those in favor of RIC haven't — their comments are too ignorant and too irrational), and SOMEHOW comes to the conclusion (or is brainwashed into believing) that there IS a relevant medical reason to routinely circumcise infants… Forget immorality, forget even ethics… how about simple equal rights? Why is it okay to protect a little girl from having HER prepuce cut off, but not protect a boy from having HIS prepuce cut off? If we have deemed female circumcision (even a ceremonial prick letting a *single drop of blood* let alone wholesale butchery as is done to males in the US) to be illegal, and we have, then how can we POSSIBLY justify the *exact same thing* on a boy??? Because it's "tradition"? Well, for some, removing the prepuce of a female is considered tradition. Because of the so-called "health benefits"? You'd probably be surprised to learn that those exact same "health benefits" have been claimed for girls as well! Everything from "it's cleaner" to "it will stop STDs"! It wasn't correct then and it isn't correct now. And it's not magically somehow true for boys, either. Anyone who dares claim to be in favor of equal rights, but still believes that parents have the right to mutilate their sons is a hypocrite.

          Furthermore, as I mentioned, I have YET to come across someone in favor of RIC who is actually informed on the topic. Not just as a matter of of "opinion" about the damage done, but simply regarding the functions of the foreskin! If they don't even understand how a foreskin functions, or what it is for, how can they POSSIBLY make informed consent to have it removed??? They can't. The ONLY people I have ever come in contact with who have watched a circumcision (and I mean actually watched the child having his stomach pumped, being given an erection, having the skin ripped and cut, having the sensitive and delicate tissue CRUSHED, then having it surgically excised, all without anesthesia, not just being "in the room"), and still support it, are (as I said) sexual sadists. Don't believe that they exist? There are sites dedicated to sexual arousal from circumcision. This was posted at one:

          "We are strongly interested in male AND female circumcision, especially female because male circumcision is not a problem for us. My husband has been circumcised (well circumcised) for 3 years. Marc (my husband) has a very tight circumcision with the frenulum completely removed. It was done 3 years ago, voluntarily, and without any medical reason, only to be very clean and erotic (I write my opinion!) Marc is very happy. Mathieu (my son) also has a very tight circumcision, frenulum completely removed. We had him circumcised completely at birth. He is now 3 years old and his circumcision looks very good. Unhappily I am not not yet circumcised, but I WANT it. We are searching information, testimonies, addresses for my female circumcision. I think that female circumcision is analogous to male circumcision and is also necessary to the couple’s sex live. I think it should be better to allow female circumcision . I am now speaking about cutting the hood and the labia minora. I am also searching for information about the complete cutting of the clitoris."

          These people not only had their son circumcised, they dictated how much skin ("tight" = A LOT) should be removed, and made sure the frenulum (the male "clitoris") was removed! Why? Because it's "erotic". They think, at 3, that his penis "looks good." Disgusting, no? And there's a whole website of them! There is "erotic" fiction about amateur circumcisions. This is not as rare as you probably think.

          Recently someone made a blog post about how to cloth diaper with a circumcised child, since using vaseline can damage the diapers. These are people who spent HOURS on the internet researching DIAPERS, yet know *nothing* about the function of the foreskin. Because researching it didn't even *occur* to them. How do I know that? Because even the person who wrote the blog is NOW opposed to circumcision, and she admitted that, though she researched cloth diapers for HOURS, she never even considered researching circumcision. And many commenters said the same thing. So… diapers… something they wear for a couple of years, something to which there are other alternatives (disposable), something to which the decision to do so or not do so has very little impact on anyone, even the environment… THAT they research. Something that involves painful and (as admitted to by thousands of doctors) not-medically necessary surgery on their child — without anesthesia — that will *effect them forever*? Eh, whatever.

          *Every time* I speak with someone who is in favor of RIC, I ask for the "facts" they used to back up their claims. EVERY TIME. Only twice has anyone ever responded to that request. One woman (so PROUD of circumcising her sons) posted a link that questioned whether the risks were AS HIGH as some places report (though they didn't deny the # of deaths or the fact that there ARE risks, and it did NOT address the validity of circumcision in the first place). One woman posted an *opinion piece* by some random doctor on the internet, which was filled with *completely outdated information* (including that babies "don't feel pain"). So you tell me, if they've "researched" it, if they're actually *knowledgeable* on the topic, WHY, when visiting sites *devoted to ending the practice* are they unable to provide ANY facts in support of their claims??? I'll tell you why — because *there aren't any.*

          And lastly, I'll just mention my single biggest pet peeve. We KNOW that circumcision hurts. There is *absolutely NO doubt about that.* Even pro-circumcision sites will tell you it's painful. They simply justify it by saying that the child "won't remember" it (though there is documentation showing that RIC permanently alters a boy's brain, so he at least physically "remembers" it). When my daughter had to have her arm set when she broke it, it HURT — and though I knew it needed to be done, I CRIED because my child was in pain. I CRIED because I HAD TO do something that caused my child PAIN. I would NEVER *brag* about doing something that caused my child pain. I would never call myself a "proud pro-(insert injury to my child here)* person. Because it causes ME pain to have to cause my child pain. So I ask you, how can a person who is PROUD of *causing their child pain* NOT be a sadist??

          • Suzy says:

            If evidence indicated that the same sorts of benefits followed female circumcision as are attributed to male circumcision, then I would think there was nothing wrong with letting parents make that call for girls as well. The principle is the same in both cases.
            Again, I think it's a mistake to base your argument on the presumed ignorance or immorality of other people. You've set up a neat dilemma wherein the person who believes herself to be doing diligent research and trying to make the right decision on this matter ends up, should she choose wrongly in your eyes, being either a sexual sadist or a total ignoramus. I simply don't think that's true of many parents who make this choice, and if your ultimate goal is to persuade people who genuinely struggle to weigh the evidence on this issue, it's not a good strategy.
            That is particularly true of the argument that some people choose circumcision for weird sexual reasons. You are surely aware that some people fight against circumcision for weird sexual reasons too, right? There's a lot of that sort of weirdness to go around in this world, unfortunately. We don't have to try to tar our opponents on an issue by linking them unfairly to that position.
            Finally, not all medical authorities would agree with you about the painfulness of circumcision. Some doctors say the topical pain medicine is sufficient to eliminate pain. They may be wrong about this, for all I know, but it's a bit of a stretch to assume that parents who listen to this are therefore sadists. It is very odd that you accuse parents who circumcise of taking pride in causing their child pain. I doubt very much that they do, as a rule. I have known many, many such parents, and they seem nothing like that. This is where the zeal to rail against something just ends up turning off potential converts. They think of all the people they've known who did this, and they can't recognize them in this picture of abusive sadists that you paint, and so they figure you are the one painting the wrong picture. It just doesn't help the cause.

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, Ah, but all the claimed medical "benefits" of FGM were false, just as all of the claimed medical "benefits" of RIC are false. EVERY ONE has been debunked, not just by some "extremists" but by other medical organizations throughout the world. The great "AIDS cure" that it's being heralded as is something that other medical organizations do NOT support (and, to date, the AAP does not support, either). Not one of the hundreds of "reasons" for RIC given since it's secular inception in the 1800s have ever withstood scrutiny. Not the prevention of masturbation, not curing insanity, not curing cancer, not preventing cancer, not the prevention of UTIs, and not a reduction in STDs. If ANY of those were verified reasons, SOME legitimate medical organization in the WORLD would support it. Yet… they don't. Huh. Funny that.

            You think my assumption that the "pro-circ" crowd is ignorant is presumptuous? Let me supply you with some recent comments that "proud pro-circers" (as THEY call THEMSELVES) have made — on a site specifically dedicated to the genital integrity of boys.

            "Perhaps if you females had a foreskin over your clitoris then i wonder if your views would change" — This woman knows nothing about her own body, yet I'm supposed to trust that she understands the potential and real problems caused by circumcision? (P.S. She also said her son "needed" it because his foreskin was "fused" to his penis as a baby. Without knowing, of course, that the foreskin is SUPPOSED to be fused to the glans, one of the many reasons that circumcision is so painful.)

            "Men & Female foreskins are entirely built differently therefore not in the same concept upon which my views are made from having sons with fused foreskins" — Again, completely ignorant of the fact that both foreskins have the same function (protection of the glans), and that they are homologous.

            "Them things are hideous enough as is then you want to make your kid have genetalia that resembles an aardvark!" — Of course! Why WOULDN'T we have cosmetic (medically unnecessary) surgery on our child's genitalia simply because we don't find it sexually appealing?!? (*cough* sick *cough*)

            "Well I was in the room when my son was circumcised and either it don't hurt the baby or my boy is a champ! Either way he's still perfect!!!!" — Right, neurogenic shock is PROOF of your son's manliness! And scarred and calloused penises are all the rage in Paris. (not)

            "Nope bc I don't care! And my son in shock really?? Lol I was there not u he got circumcised then ate explain that dr???" — the "I don't care" was in response to the explanation of neurogenic shock. It was explained that the baby ate because it was both in need of comfort and hungry (he can't eat for quite a while before hand — especially when you realize how frequently newborns eat — and on top of that, they pump his stomach, plus he NEEDS the glucose after shock). That is how she's sure he was okay — a starving baby ate.

            "It wasn't surgery ur dumb!!" — Even pro-circumcision sites call it surgery! "Circumcision: Surgery that removes the foreskin (the loose tissue) covering the glans of the penis." Of course, they also refer to skin that is FUSED TO THE GLANS OF THE PENIS as "loose tissue" but that's not my point here.

            I really can go on and on. These are solely comments left on Intactivist sites, by people who CLAIM to have researched and educated themselves on circumcision. And THESE are the people who should be allowed to make that decision? So far we're supposed to leave it up to completely ignorant people or the doctors who make money off of it. How, exactly, is that logical?

            Actually, even staunchly pro-circumcisionist doctors believe that circumcision is painful. That's why, when a child is past the immediate neo-natal period they are placed under general anesthesia to be circumcised. It is not safe to put a newborn under general anesthesia, so some doctors use a numbing shot. Do you really believe an INJECTION IN THE BASE OF THE PENIS on a newborn baby who has spent the last months protected in its mother's womb, is NOT painful? Even then, though, only approximately 40% of newborn circumcisions involve ANY pain relief at all (because even those injections are contraindicated in newborns!). That means that, even if we assume that the injections (or in other cases a cream, which is usually prescribed to reduce the pain from injections) are adequate at blocking the pain, which it's usually noted that it *minimizes* pain, not eliminates it, approximately SIXTY PERCENT of ALL circumcised boys are NOT given any pain relief at all! We KNOW that babies feel pain. It's been well documented. So it's not like we still believe that they're incapable of it (unless you're Amish and your knowledge of medicine ended in the 1800s). Doctors just find it inconvenient to "waste" the time on properly anesthetizing a boy for circumcision. It takes about 10 minutes for a circumcision without anesthesia. It takes about 30 minutes for one WITH anesthesia. Time is money. They bring the babies in, one after the other after the other (or go from room to room to room), and getting them done quickly means someone makes more money per hour than they otherwise would. ALWAYS follow the $.

            Perhaps I could be nicer. Maybe. I don't know. When dealing with people who are so flippant over the topic, I find myself unwilling to sugar coat it. But I'm not rude. I'm not cursing at you or accusing you of the same things I've expressed my opinions on with others (denial, ignorance, or sadism). Heck, I don't know if you have a child or are solely speaking in the hypothetical. But even if you're speaking hypothetically you should know the facts. I'm stating facts and providing examples to support my position. Why don't you try doing that? Rather than just… what? Going with your "gut"? Does your instinct tell you that you should cause your child pain? Does your instinct tell you that something no official medical organization in the WORLD recommends is a good idea? Do you REALLY trust your doctor THAT much, when s/he is making money off of the procedure? Mostly, though, knowing all of this, if *your* child DIED from being circumcised, would you still think it is a parent's RIGHT? Approximately 120 baby boys die per year directly from circumcisions, with thousands of others dying from complications of it — such as heart failure or exsanguination, though those are not required to be attributed to circumcision directly. More boys die, per year, from circumcision than any other cause in the same time period. Meaning, if you read about a baby dying of SIDS in its first 2 months of life? More have died from circumcision. If you read about a child under 2 months dying in a car accident? More have died from circumcision. Accidents happen. SIDS isn't explained. Short of never leaving your house, you can't prevent most risks easily. Circumcision? A risk that doesn't NEED to be taken.

            Should I be sorry that these FACTS sound inflammatory? They are what they are. I so often hear it said that when someone asks for the "pros and cons" of RIC, all they are given is the cons. That's because there ARE no "pros" to RIC. NONE. And every single official medical organization in the WORLD believes that. But you think your doctor from BFE USA knows best?

    • Bjorn Bengtsson says:

      But what if there *is* no justification, in your eyes? What if the motives are purely "religious" or "aesthetic"? Or whatever else you yourself do not consider valid reasons. Either you hold that any consenting parent and child should be able to do *anything* at all that tickles their fancy (as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else…), or you take it upon yourself to decide which are valid reasons and which are not. In the latter case, you are in effect granting that "the state" or "the community" or some body external to the individuals involved should have a say in their life. Your concluding remark seems to indicate that you'd rather not have external forces acting upon individual decisions. If so, your opinions on what counts as a valid reason for making decisions are irrelevant.

      • Suzy says:

        Sure, I don't mean to suggest that the state should never intervene in choices parents make about their children. However, I think we trust parents to make decisions about other medical matters that seem roughly similar to circumcision in terms of stakes and uncertainty of evidence, and I'd rather endure some people making poor choices in this area (according to my standards) than prevent them from making the choice at all. When the stakes get higher or lower and the evidence gets more or less certain or objective, this judgment may change. So, if someone says she wants to let her son get a tattoo for mental health reasons, I'm inclined to let her make that choice. If the child didn't want the tattoo, or it was all over his body and thus harder to reverse someday and likely to have deeper effects on his future, I might well feel differently about whether the state could or should intervene.

        I don't think religious or aesthetic motives are invalid; I don't think they should be the main justification for a medical procedure, though. Circumcision is a strange case because some people do choose it for those reasons, and they think it's justified because the procedure itself doesn't even rise to the level of a medical event. I don't agree with that, but I do at least respect and take seriously the merits of that point of view. If people wanted to make long-lasting or even permanent holes in their child's earlobes for aesthetic or religious reasons, it would bother me, but I doubt I'd insist that the state use its power to make that illegal. So I'm not entirely convinced that circumcision would be wrong even if there were no medical justification. If the medical justification was stronger–say circumcision magically reduced one's risk of appendicitis, for example–then even critics of the procedure might not look askance at those who choose it. The problem here is that the medical justification doesn't seem quite a strong, but to me, it's strong enough that we need to grant people that freedom of choice.

        • The Wife says:

          Ah, the old "ear piercing" vs. circumcision claim. Let's see… a painful surgery that forever mutilates (by its very definition — look the word up) the sexual organ of a child, that is performed on a non-consenting individual, without anesthesia, for no medical reason (one that needs trained medical staff on hand because one of the "complications" is DEATH)… or a semi-permanent hole in the lobe of a child's ear, that does not *alter the function of that body part*. Right.

          THIS is why strong language is necessary. You have no real opinion on the matter because, quite frankly, you're ignorant on the matter. If you were educated on it, you would never make such an absurd comparison. But, perhaps, if you're peeved off enough about my choice of language, you'll bother to research the topic before you try to claim your opinion has validity.

          I suggest you start here: http://youtu.be/ujVvfOicRp4
          (a computer animation illustrating the function of the foreskin)

          And here: http://wreckingboy.livejournal.com/318545.html
          (a very well researched post by a circumcised man, who circumcised his sons, who has since researched the topic and become a strong opponent. This is not just an "opinion" piece — it is a holding place for FACTS, complete with citations and links. Try watching the video.)

          • Suzy says:

            Okay, I suppose I am ignorant. However, I make no claim whatsoever that circumcision is like ear piercing. Rather, as was quite obvious already, I'm curious about why I would accept purely religious or aesthetic grounds as sufficient to allow parents to piece a child's ears, but when it comes to other procedures I want other kinds of justification. Forget about circumcision if it sets you off so much. What if a parent wanted to tattoo the child for religious or aesthetic reasons? Is that okay as long as the child is okay with it, but not okay if the child objects? I'm trying to figure out where we draw lines here. I get that your line doesn't include circumcision, so it seems pretty unproductive to continue with that example.

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, For some reason my response to this post did not come through. In response to your questions, I can't answer why you form your opinions on ear piercing and tattooing. I can say, however, that the decisions have already been made WRT those. In the case of ear piercing, since it does not remove the function of the body part in question (the ear), and is easy to "reverse" (with only a small internal lump as reminder), it is considered innocuous enough to be allowed. Other types of piercings (considered "body modifications) are not allowed on minors, usually up until 16 when the child is considered old enough to make that decision for themselves. Tattoos are illegal on minors, because they are permanent (even removal leaves scarring and is incredibly painful), so the government has deemed tattooing a minor to be a punishable offense. As the author (and many of us) have pointed out, circumcision is the ONLY body modification allowed on children (but only boys!) that is permanent, disfiguring, changes the very nature of the body part's function, and is completely unnecessary but is still legal in the US. Whatever your opinions on other forms of body modification on children, the government has already elected to take that decision out of your hands. And it's that very hypocrisy that disgusts those of us who recognize the barbarity of RIC.

    • Frank says:

      While I respect your thoughts, I would like to clarify something. Circumcision as a prophylactic measure was created to curb masturbation. As one excuse was unfounded another came in place. The arguments for circumcision on a health basis is quackery more or less. For example, shaving our children's heads would effective stop the spreading of lice and may be argued as being more "hygienic." Keep in mind, Suzy, women have far more problems with their private region than men do. You can justify just about anything if you put your mind to it.

      • Suzy says:

        Well, you say it's quackery, but I disagree with you, because medical experts have told me that it's not quackery. I grant that medical experts themselves disagree about this. Under those circumstances, though, why insist that people must follow one or the other camp's conclusions? Maybe circumcision will go the way of bloodletting and someday it will be really obvious that there is no purpose for it, but I don't think we're even close to that point yet.

        I don't care what the history of the practice is. If someone said that occasional bloodletting would reduce risks of infections, STD transmission, and other such things, maybe we'd try it again, the grim past notwithstanding. Similarly, if we had no other treatments for lice and couldn't get rid of them, well, wouldn't we indeed shave the poor kids' heads? The comparison with women does not trouble me either. If medical research suggested that clipping part of the labia, for instance, would produce various health benefits, why wouldn't I allow people to make that choice for their kids? Yes, some people may have come up with ad hoc justifications for circumcision, but we can reject those without deciding that the entire subject is tainted by association.

        • eshu21 says:

          What sort of person ethically can compare shaving hair (which grows back, and has no sensitivity to pain or pleasure) with mutilating a child's genitalia? Such comparisons make it clear your stance is either deeply unexamined, unethical or a knee-jerk facetiously defensive remark.

          There are plenty of medical studies showing no valid basis for circumcision as a health preventative (try reading this analysis of the African RCTs as a start: http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/full/10.2217/17469600.2.3.193 ). The only person who has a right to judge whether the removal of perfectly healthy genital tissue is proper is the person who's body it is attached to – otherwise, let's all let parents get their kids racist facial gang tattoos – parents' decision, right?

          By the way, Rachel Stalling's study of Tanzanian women (http://womanuncensored.blogspot.com/2010/06/gender-bias-and-circumcision.html) who had been genitally mutilated showed that they did indeed have lower rates of AIDS – care to schedule a date for you and your daughters to get "clipped", as you put it?

          • Suzy says:

            I don't know, ask Frank what kind of person makes that comparison, because I was responding specifically to his statement. What makes you think I have daughters? I'm really at a loss as to why my attempt to reason about the principles behind this case have inspired such an odd reaction. Again, I am not recommending that anyone go out and circumcise their babies. Rather, I was reading the original article about the tattoo case (which is what brought me here) and the comparison to circumcision, and wondering what ethical reasons might make people accept one but not the other, or reject both, accept both, etc. Obviously several of the factors involved here work on a continuum between poles that most people would immediately recognize as ethically acceptable or unacceptable. So the lice comparison, for example–I think it's pretty obvious most people would not arrest a parent for shaving a child's head if that was the only way to treat the lice. However, we do have a case here where a woman is arrested for letting her son get a tattoo. So I'm interested in how the factors of the child's consent, the harm the parent is trying to protect from, and the harm that might be caused to the child, are all weighed in our decision about whether the parents should have control of such matters. Circumcision is just one of the cases at issue; there is no need to make it the locus of discussion if people have such an extreme reaction to dispassionate comments about it. It's somewhat reminiscent of people who can't even talk about abortion without bringing genocide into it. Yes, yes, we know you oppose it. Now, can we think about the principles behind that or not?

        • The Wife says:

          @Suzy, Common sense (or at least basic intelligence) will tell us that the claims of reductions in AIDS and other STDs is false. Otherwise the US, with it's incredibly high circumcision rates throughout the last 30 years, wouldn't have… what, THE highest AIDS rates of any industrial nation? Additionally, this isn't just "some doctors" thinking that circumcision is not medically necessary. This is *every other official medical group in the ENTIRE WORLD — including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Cancer Society.* So, please tell me, why would you choose to believe *some* doctors in the US, as opposed to *every official medical organization in the WORLD*?

          As for your statement that FGM wouldn't bother you, either, if you were told that it held some medical benefits… well, people HAVE claimed that. And yet it's still illegal in every industrialized nation in the world, INCLUDING the US. Why do you think that is? Oh, right… because the supposed "benefits" are not real, and because the risks outweigh any potential gain, and because GIRLS have a right to genital integrity.

          Boys, apparently, aren't important.

          I wonder how many women, upon learning of the loss of sexual function and pleasure that men experience when subject to RIC, actually circumcise their sons solely for that reason… After all, we're a male-bashing nation on a whole, as if we're trying to get back at men for the inequalities women have suffered. Maybe I'm wrong on that… but I certainly can't figure out any other reason why it's considered imperative to protect girls, and a "choice" to protect boys.

          • Suzy says:

            Maybe you are not understanding my point. I'm not trying to argue that circumcision is a great idea. My point is that parents should have the freedom to decide it. So the standard of judgment here is not whether it's "medically necessary"–if it were, then everyone should be compelled to do it! Again, if the same procedure could be done on girls with the same potential benefits, I would say parents could choose that as well.
            I realize that circumcision was, in the distant past, considered beneficial because of some dampening effect on sexuality and masturbation. However, I find it extremely unlikely that this is an important motivation among parents who choose it today. If this was actually the reason, obviously I would oppose it in all cases. I don't know what nation you're in, but I live in the U.S. and haven't noticed that we are a male-bashing nation as a whole. Rather, I would say that my culture celebrates men, elevates them as heroes, prefers them as leaders, and so forth.

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, I live in the good ol' US of A, where we protect our girls and mutilate our boys. We're the only industrialized nation in the WORLD that continues to allow RIC. Even Canada and Australia, hold outs for a while as well, have been actively preventing it (and I posted the Australian views, which are VERY anti-circumcision, earlier). I'm sadly very familiar with why this practice continues. Money and complacency. We see a penis with a scar and think that's normal. Soooo many women (and if you ever talk with any "converts" to the intactivist cause, you'll hear this over and over and over again) just allow it because they "assume" that there MUST be SOME reason why it's still done. After all, their (insert friends and/or relatives here) were circumcised. They thought everyone was! In fact, despite the (thankfully) falling rates of circumcisions in the US, people still use the "I don't want my son to be teased in the locker room" excuse for it.

            Even if you say you would not support RIC/FGM *if* (whatever your reason here), since there has been and continues to be no LEGITIMATE reason TO perform RIC, shouldn't your inclination be to NOT support it until it's proven NECESSARY, since all indicators are that it causes harm 100% of the time (loss of sensation, keratinization, scarring)? If something is GUARANTEED to cause harm, shouldn't there be a *pressing* reason to allow it? *Especially* since, on top of everything else (the pain, the disfigurement, the risks) it is a violation of the person's right to bodily autonomy? Our children are not our chattel. If they are autonomous beings who have a right to be protected from harm, then this is one of those protections they SHOULD have. Just because they don't have it YET doesn't mean they don't deserve it. Our job as a parent is not to bend our child to our whims or force them to conform to our sexualized ideal ("I think an uncircumcised penis is ugly"). Our job is to raise them to be fully formed, fully functioning adults, capable of making their own decisions. This is one of those decisions that we should allow them to make for themselves, since it is THEIR body and THEY are the ones who have to live with the alterations, not us. It's why we wouldn't cut out their appendix as an infant because they MIGHT get appendicitis as an adult. Without pressing medical need, we DON'T have domain over their bodies, they do. Except, at least right this moment, in regards to their penis.

            Do you really think we, as a society, revere men? Have you watched any sitcom lately? Men are portrayed as bumbling idiots. Men are portrayed as clueless fathers. When we see a man taking care of his own kids, we think it's "nice" that he "watches" them. And, a la Mr. Mom, we expect them to fail. Men are the butts of jokes, because they are the only people it's still PC to make fun of. Heck, up until, what, THIS month?, men weren't even LEGALLY protected from RAPE! We've swung the pendulum so far in the opposite direction of automatic misogyny, that we apparently now consider men to be less than human. Well, okay, that's an exaggeration. We just consider them to be less than females — otherwise we would protect them, the same way we protect girls.

  • The Wife says:

    *glans — darn autocorrect makes using the browser on the phone somewhat difficult. Not gonna worry about the couple of other typos, but I couldn't let it look like I, The Penis Lady, don't know the proper terminology for the anatomy of the penis.

  • Karl Hegbloom says:

    “Circumcision” is a deprecated euphemism for the atrocity that is more accurately referred to as “Male Genital Mutilation.” It is the wanton amputation of a normal, healthy, functioning body part, which is certainly a second degree felony under Utah Statute 76-5-105, “Mayhem.” Infant Genital Mutilation also certainly falls under 76-5-109, “Child Abuse”. In particular, the following definitions given under 76-5-109(1) can be easily shown to be applicable:

    76-5-109(1)(f)(i)(B), “involves physical torture”;
    76-5-109(1)(f)(i)(G), “any conduct toward a child that results in severe emotional harm, [...] or severe impairment of the child's ability to function”; and
    76-5-109(1)(f)(i)(H), “any injury that creates a permanent disfigurement or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, limb, or organ”;

    Given the true and factual information about the anatomy and physiological function of the male prepuce explained by the D.O.C. Policy Statement, along with the above definitions from the Utah Statutes, Child Abuse 76-5-109(2)(a) makes Infant Male Genital Mutilation a second degree felony. Other Utah laws that may apply include 76-5-107, “Threat of Violence,” 76-5-103, “Aggravated assault,” 76-5-106, “Harassment,”, Solicitation for Conspiracy to commit, Fraud by Deception, and Omission or failure to act. Genital Mutilation is not a “rite.” It is a crime.

    Further, because this brutally harmful atrocity has seen such widespread and systematic practice in the United States of America, it truly fits the definition of a “Crime Against Humanity” as defined by the Rome Statute, which establishes the International Criminal Court.

    Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, “are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. Murder; extermination; torture; rape; political, racial, or religious persecution and other inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice. Isolated inhumane acts of this nature may constitute grave infringements of human rights, or depending on the circumstances, war crimes, but may fall short of falling into the category of crimes under discussion.”

    The United States of America justified the invasion of Iraq, in part, by citing the crimes committed by Saddam Hussein's regime—e.g. the use of poison gas against the Kurdish people. If that war was justifiable, then perhaps it is reasonable to consider Male Genital Mutilation to be a threat to U.S. National Security. It does not require very many steps of reasoning to cross the border between U.S. actions in Iraq and forseeing a large posse entering within this country to do battle against these domestic violations of human rights. Fortunately, this is not a battle likely to be won with the use of destructive weaponry. Violence is the problem, not the solution.

    Furthermore, if our own citizens, law enforcement, and courts will not acknowledge Genital Mutilation as an atrocious crime, then certainly our “government”, guilty of selective enforcement of it's own laws, faces a very serious legitimation crisis. We can no longer live in denial of this obvious threat to our health and welfare. We need to look the serpent in the eye, see it for what it is, and help it to become entire and whole again. We must end the cycle of violence by refusing to continue to inflict pain and deprivation upon each new generation, and by protecting infants from those who would continue this atrocity.

    • Karl Hegbloom says:

      The D.O.C. Policy Statement that I refer to here is the Doctors Opposing Circumcision Genital Integrity Policy Statement. It's easy to find; just put on your Googles and look for it.

    • Suzy says:

      If you honestly think that circumcision is a crime on a par with widespread and systematic murder, torture, rape, and so on, there's not much point discussing further. However, you should know that this kind of wild hyperbole tends to have the opposite effect that you might intent. Instead of giving serious thought to whether circumcision is really necessary or important, and perhaps realizing that it's falling out of fashion and shouldn't simply be done on a whim, it is more likely that people will roll their eyes and wonder what motivates this extremist stance on the issue. Let's see: on the one hand, people accusing me of potential child abuse, or even worse, crimes against humanity that would justify actual warfare… on the other hand, my doctor telling me that I have a choice either way, and calmly explaining the state of the current medical evidence pro and con… which do you think is going to be more persuasive?

      • The Wife says:

        Hm… Who has more to gain? A person fighting for the rights of children, with NO benefit to themselves… or a doctor who gets PAID to perform an unnecessary surgery? Maybe the hospital who gets part of that fee, too? Or the surgical staff who get a cut? Or how about the people who then SELL the foreskin? You don't think your doctor *might* have at least SOME reason to convince you that something s/he gets PAID to do might have benefit?

        Don't like the words?

        mu·ti·late (mytl-t)
        tr.v. mu·ti·lat·ed, mu·ti·lat·ing, mu·ti·lates
        1. To deprive of a limb or an essential part; cripple.
        2. To disfigure by damaging irreparably: mutilate a statue. See Synonyms at batter1.
        3. To make imperfect by excising or altering parts.

        Hm… That seems to fit! It deprives the penis of an essential part. It disfigures it (EVERY circumcised penis has a scar). It's made imperfect by the excising and altering of parts (for example by the keratinization of the glans). So… it fits the VERY DEFINITION of the word.

        sexual abuse
        n.
        1. The forcing of unwanted sexual activity by one person on another, as by the use of threats or coercion.
        2. Sexual activity that is deemed improper or harmful, as between an adult and a minor or with a person of diminished mental capacity

        a·buse (-byz)
        tr.v. a·bused, a·bus·ing, a·bus·es
        1. To use wrongly or improperly; misuse: abuse alcohol; abuse a privilege.
        2. To hurt or injure by maltreatment; ill-use.
        3. To force sexual activity on; rape or molest.

        Hm… Those seems to fit, too! The boy is *strapped to a table* (forced). He is *given an erection* (oh, right, I'm sure an erection serves no sexual function). It HARMS him (causes pain AND removes part of his body). It is performed, on a child, by an adult. And the child CANNOT SAY NO (by definition diminished mental capacity, which is why "statuatory rape" is a crime, because a CHILD cannot consent). So… Yeah. Fits THOSE definitions, too.

        All of those "hyperbolic" words are, by their very definitions, applicable to circumcision. Still think we're just "extremists"? Or do you think maybe, just maybe, we're passionate about it because we *cannot stand* the idea of baby boys being made to suffer in this manner? I was a social worker. I spent my professional career trying to prevent children from coming to harm. This is merely an extension of that. Just as I fought for the rights of children to be free from abuse then, I shall continue to do so now.

        • Suzy says:

          Honestly, look at what you wrote above, all spelled out with separate syllables as if presented to an audience of drooling idiots. Is this supposed to persuade someone who is on the fence about whether circumcision is a good idea? What it's going to do is very simple: it's going to make it seem as if the people opposed to circumcision are unhinged all out of proportion to the seriousness of the issue. Comparing circumcision to genocide? To intentional sexual abuse? Imagine that you are one of these supposedly ignorant types who are giving serious thought to whether to circumcise. You can imagine yourself doing this, on medical advice that it might be of some benefit and that the pain can be easily managed. Maybe the medical advice is wrong, I don't know. But is the parent who considers this literally like the parent who intentionally rapes a child? If you actually would agree with this, you end up losing all credibility with an audience who might be persuaded against circumcision. I'm not arguing for your side, but even I think that does your position a disservice. If you're against circumcision, oppose it because there really is no sufficient benefit that would justify the harm and risk involved, not because you've decided that anyone who does it is some kind of monster. Meanwhile, where I live, the whole procedure costs $100-200, a very tiny fraction of what you pay for birth and associated expenses. Somehow I'm not seeing the dollar signs lighting up the eyes of the physicians, and they manage to communicate both pros and cons of the procedure in an impartial fashion, not trying to persuade anyone of anything, without demonizing those who don't approve of the procedure. Why wouldn't I trust them, over someone who thinks I'm a sadistic idiot for even considering it?

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, You're not seeing the big picture and you're NOT following the money. Most circumcisions cost $300 out of pocket, but let's assume it costs $100 (I suspect you're confusing that with the CO-PAYMENT applied by insurance companies when they cover the rest, but we'll assume not). What do you think is done with the foreskin once it is amputated? Think it goes in an incinerator? Think again. Most recently this article came to light: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/german-scientists-growing-skin-baby-foreskins-202956126.html Showing ONE firm that uses foreskins for skin grafts. But foreskins are also sold to other (US) firms for skin grafting, sold to cosmetic companies for use in their products, and sold for testing. So, you pay your doctor $100 to cut off part of your child's penis. That doctor turns around and sells the foreskin for at LEAST a 100% profit (most foreskins sell for in the thousands, but let's just REALLY underestimate it all). That single foreskin can be used to make 100s of products (yards of skin grafts, entire runs of make up). The manufactured item is then sold. In the case of cosmetics, it is a renewable product (you will, theoretically, continue to use your cosmetic), and in the case of skin grafts, they not only sell the graft, but the money then gets funneled back to the hospitals and doctors through the skin grafting procedure. all of this when there are much better (and more ethical) methods of helping burn victims (I won't even go into any theoretical "necessity" of foreskin make-up *snort*). But even if there WEREN'T a better way than skin grafts for helping burn victims, the grafts can still be made without foreskin! To surgically remove a healthy, functional, VITAL part of a man's genitalia, even to help burn victims, is unfathomable to me. Other types of skin (cadaver tissue) can be used to make skin grafts, but because of the *specific nature* of the foreskin (mainly because of its YOUTH — which is why RIC is the best source) makes it EASIER. Not the only way. Just EASIER.

            If my prior post made you think I was treating you like a "drooling idiot" that is your problem, not mine. I have clearly, and concisely, laid out the reasons why RIC is a barbaric practice. Everything from the physical to the ethical and moral reasons to oppose it. I have given you the benefit of the doubt in every instance, despite the fact that your posts have been filled with misinformation, highly uneducated opinions, and a lackadaisical attitude toward practices that even the staunchest pro-circumcisionists consider barbaric. I have given you 3 reasons why I believe people ignore the facts of circumcision. 1) Denial. Unless you are a mother who (my guess would be by deciding to "trust" your doctor) has circumcised your child, then I can't speak to that. 2) Ignorance. You have expressed several ignorant views and in your case I am inclined to believe it is simply a lack of knowledge and education driving you. Willful ignorance falls into this category. 3) Sadism. As I have shown, there ARE people who find circumcision to be EROTIC, both in the infliction of pain and in the "look" of the scarred, calloused penis. If you're not one of those people, why assume that I am referring to YOU? I have more than adequately illustrated the type of person that I consider to be a sadist with regards to their opinions on circumcision. And unless you consider yourself one of those people, then don't worry — I wasn't talking about you. If you DO? Well…

            As to whether I consider circumcision as bad as "raping" a child (and by that, should I assume you mean a little girl?), let me remind you of something: I was a social worker. I have seen *HORRIFIC* abuse of all kinds up close and personal. I have seen things that no person should ever have to see, let alone no child have to endure. And I, based on all of the knowledge and education that I have, consider RIC to be abusive (I didn't mention genocide — at least a circumcision victim is theoretically still alive). I am unwilling to RANK the nature of abuse, because all forms turn my stomach, but note that the LAW does rank abuse. Forcible rape is considered more heinous than statuatory rape. Rape of a child under 12 is considered more heinous than rape of a child over 12. Rape of a child is considered more heinous than non-penatrative molestation. Rape of a child is considered more heinous than rape of an adult. Molestation of a child is considered more heinous than rape of an adult. Sexual abuse is often considered more heinous than physical abuse. Physical abuse of a child is considered more heinous than physical abuse of a spouse. Physical or sexual abuse of a senior is considered more heinous than physical or sexual abuse of a younger adult, but not AS heinous as physical or sexual abuse of a minor. Physical abuse is ranked in many different ways, such as those types that cause permanent physical harm (a handicap such as blindness or the loss of a limb), by whether it scars, by the extent and by the duration. Circumcision is, by definition abusive. It qualifies as sexual abuse because of the nature of the procedure. It doesn't matter where it RANKS on the scale of physical or sexual abuse. For me, it's enough that it ranks at all.

            Could those comments make someone feel bad? Yes. Should I spend time wording everything just so on the chance that someone might feel bad because of them. Uh… no. If you choose to be willfully ignorant, then you deserve to have someone blatantly present the facts. If you consider yourself PROUD of your actions, then you SHOULD be upset. Because even if you think it WAS the best choice to make, PRIDE in it is misplaced, and quite frankly disgusting. But note that: the tone of my post was in direct response to your ignorant comments. If it appeared as if I considered the reader to be a "drooling idiot"… well, then perhaps I was letting my opinions seep through. Your continued defense of the practice of RIC, and your glaringly ignorant comments and comparisons in support thereof (pink eye, appendicitis, ear piercing), lead me to believe that you are not just ignorant, but at LEAST bordering on willfully ignorant. And when someone is willfully ignorant, I just don't feel as if I have to worry all that much about their feelings. If someone makes a CHOICE to be ignorant, they're worse than stupid — at least stupid people can't help it.

          • Suzy says:

            I know that you think I am ignorant and so there is no hope of convincing you of this, but I offer this information to any reader who comes across this discussion and doesn't know. Just look into the issue further, if you're curious–ask a doctor or a hospital, etc. and get your own information. Where I live, doctors absolutely do not sell the foreskins, do not give painkiller shots in the base of the child's penis, and do not pump the child's stomach first! Egad. Probably those things have happened somewhere, sometime, but they are not universal norms for how circumcisions are done. That is all. No endorsement of circumcision implied here.

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, to be frank, I just don't believe you. Tell me the name of a hospital near you and I will find out the TRUTH of what is done. You say they don't pump the stomachs, yet that is *standard procedure.* Many parents are unaware that it is happening because it doesn't look like what they expect it to look like. They slip a small tube in and suck it up. Since babies are fed only liquids (breast milk or formula) it takes seconds. However, it is still dreadfully uncomfortable, if not painful. They do this because most boys cry SO HARD that they will vomit, and that puts them at risk of aspirating the vomit — which can kill them. They dont give shots? How do you think they anesthetize the boy? It's called a "dorsal nerve block.". The dorsal nerve is the primary nerve running through the shaft of the penis. Just like a "spinal block" is a shot to the base of the spine to numb the nerve(s). Despite being called a block, it does not provide complete pain relief and the injection itself is *incredibly* painful. If they do NOT use a dorsal nerve block but they do "numb" the boy, that means they use a cream. Which is topical and provides almost no pain relief whatsoever. It's similar to using "Neosporin + Pain" and is not really any more effective than using NOTHING. It's so pointless that most doctors/hospitals don't even bother. So… If your hospital(s) claim they don't use dorsal nerve blocks, then one way or another (creams or nothing) the boys there are NOT getting adequate pain relief. Which one is "better"? Nothing or a painful shot into the penis (which still doesn't numb the penis entirely)? Personally, I find either idea repugnant.

            I suggest, before you try to provide so-called information to someone reading this discussion that you at least TRY to educate yourself. If you had bothered to read ANY of the information provided, you would have SOME clue about what actually happens. Just because you WANT to believe that the boys don't suffer, or "your" hospital doesn't sell foreskins (I stress again that I don't believe that at all), or that it's not completely unnecessar, doesn't make any of that true. To quote my late father, "spit in one hand, want in the other and see which one fills up faster."

          • Suzy says:

            Truthfully? You're kind of scaring me, so obviously I have no intention of telling you where I live or work!

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, I didn't realize there was only one "Suzy" in your entire state, and thus any connection to a state (or even a city!) would point me specifically in your direction. And naturally I'd leave my husband and my kids and spend hundreds of dollars to fly, or hours of my time, to you and… um… do… uh… something… What? Yell on your doorstep? Yeah, that. Because my posts, which have been polite (though snarky), thorough, and even (*gasp*) helpful, have been so very, VERY threatening. Yeah, that makes sense. As opposed to the fact that you don't want to provide any "proof" of your claims, since you know that even the briefest amount of checking could (and would) prove your "opinion" to be based on nothing but wishful thinking (or spit, depending on which hand you used).

          • The Wife says:

            *hours of my time to drive

          • Suzy says:

            The reason you scare me is that you are far too deeply invested in attributing some opinion(s) to me that I don't even have. I couldn't even speculate about why that is, but yes, for you this is all about being snarky and not about honest communication.

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, If my attributions of opinions are misplaced, feel free to correct me. I have asked very specific questions — and you have not answered any of them. You've made statements based on "feelings" not on opinion, and you have been unable to provide any facts to support what claims you have clearly made (no inference necessary). You say that circumcision is easier for an infant. I explained why it wasn't. Why don't YOU try explaining how it is? Something other than your doctor saying it, since his opinion is so diametrically opposed to that of every official medical organization IN THE WORLD.

            If someone providing facts "scares" you, then… well… I'm not sure what to say. I suppose your well found in your environment, as denial and ignorance seems to be the norm with a large portion of the population — it certainly explains why RIC would continue…

          • Suzy says:

            "You say that circumcision is easier for an infant. I explained why it wasn’t." I don't think you're right about that, because as the person gets older he will either have to undergo the procedure with the added risks of general anaesthesia, or he will go through the same experience the infant does but with even less effective (or more painful) aid from other forms of anaesthetic; and in any event he will have a longer recovery with more risk of complications. Some of your other points, such as that the baby's scar would be sitting in a feces-filled diaper, do not seem accurate to me, especially for a newborn in its first few weeks of life. Maybe for an older infant, sure.
            Why do you keep assuming my doctor is male?
            Facts don't scare me. The reason I say you scare me is that you write long screeds that aren't pertinent to the points I'm making, and then accuse me of things like being stupid and unwilling to read anything, etc. What makes you think I've read none of the information you cite? Just the fact that it didn't make me change my mind? I mean, seriously, your reaction to someone who takes a different point of view is really aggressive and veers quickly into the ad hominem. That is, how can I say, not cool?

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, I am using "he" to refer to your doctor because it's more convenient than using "s/he" or "him/her" and because the doctors who attempt to minimize the risks and claim benefits to circumcision are usually men. I believe that it's part of the cycle of violence and abuse, but that would be a guess based on my psychology background and not on empirical evidence. I can refer to your doctor as "she" if you'd prefer. That certainly makes no difference to me.

            I am certain you haven't read the links I've provided because at least one of them specifically addresses several of the hypotheticals you've posed, and answers them with logic and facts. If you had read/watched the information provided, you wouldn't continue to make such absurd analogies, such as pink eye, ear piercing, and appendectomies. If, by some stretch of the imagination, you HAD bothered to examine the information that I, along with the author and other commenters have provided, you wouldn't continue to make such erroneous and uneducated statements. I would hope. But I have become rather cynical when dealing with proponents of genital mutilation, and (though I shouldn't be) I am still often amazed at their self-protective denial.

            Additionally, whether you "think" that circumcision is easier on an infant as opposed to an adult, there are ZERO facts to back that up. The ONLY thing that's "easier" is that it's easier to FORCE it on them. Again, had you bothered to perform even a cursory amount of research, you would know that myth is based on further superstitions such as "babies don't feel pain" — and recognize that anyone who uses that argument is woefully uneducated. As to you "thinking" that babies with open circumcision wounds don't sit in diapers of their own urine and feces… what in the name of The Flying Spaghetti Monster are you basing that on?!?!? Do you think that babies magically become toilet trained upon circumcision, too? How do you suppose that works?? They have a wounded penis and they defecate and urinate in their diapers. Anyone who has ever (ever) changed a diaper knows that both urine and feces spreads throughout the diaper (they are on a liquid diet!) and will be present on their genitalia. Hence logic would lead you to understand that NOT sitting in one's urine and feces with an open wound is *probably* better than doing so. It doesn't SEEM like such a leap of logic, but perhaps I'm overestimating your ability to reach logical conclusions?

            My "reaction" to you has only been a continued dialogue. Maybe some form of logical inferences will rub off on you. In the meantime, ruminate on this: "Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." NEVER blindly assume that someone you are PAYING has your (or your child's or your partner's) best interests at heart. They don't. Ever.

          • Suzy says:

            Of course I think babies feel pain! However, they recover from a circumcision surgery more quickly than an older patient does, and there are fewer complications. In addition, general anaesthesia is not normally used on them as it is later. I realize this is also a negative where pain relief is concerned, but as a risk factor the general anaesthesia is worse. I'm not saying any of this should make a person choose circumcision, I'm only pointing out that I can see why people might argue that if you're going to do it, do it right away for these reasons. As far as poop goes, maybe my kids are just strange, but they did not poop in those quantities as newborns (maybe due to breastfeeding?), and since it was obvious when they were pooping, I never let them sit around in a poopy diaper. The point is, I don't think it would be much of a challenge to keep that area clean after the circumcision; if it's harder on babies, I wouldn't say that's the reason why. Anyway, at this point I don't have anything else new to add to the conversation, and the relative contents of baby diapers seem pretty tangential. You keep attributing things to me that are not my view at all, and now you're back to saying I use faulty analogies, which kind of demonstrates that we are just talking past each other. If you still don't get that I'm not describing circumcision as comparable to the treatment of pinkeye, it's pretty hopeless to continue.

  • Patrick says:

    I'm guessing the law against tattooing anyone under 18 may be aimed at gang activity, because of the common practice of gangs tattooing their new recruits. A few years back, there was a case in Fresno, CA in which a 7 year old boy was given a gang tattoo; if I recall correctly, his father and the tattooist were subsequently arrested and convicted. During the trial, the defense lawyer actually questioned why this should be a crime if something more damaging like circumcision were legal. But in that one, there was also the issue of the child being tattooed against his wishes.

  • Mary Lanser says:

    Circumcision cannot be compared to ear piercing. I think it is wrong to do either to your child, but here is the difference, circumcision is cutting off a functional part of a baby's genitals. Ear piercing, doesn't affect a part of a persons body and can grow in. Circumcision is a permanent "alteration" of a normal part of a baby's body that cannot be reversed ever. Some men can "restore" and get better function of their penis back, but they cannot EVER get their original foreskin back. This is a part of a normal male's sexual anatomy gone forever! How can you compare this to anything else? It's ridiculous. Because of societal conditioning, and a babies inability to weigh in on the consent to alter his body, circumcision (male genital cutting) is minimized by adults. It's a crime against a baby. If, at a later date, the grown man decides there are health benefits to cutting his genitals, more power to him! This is the point, it is NOT a parents place or right (ethically) to choose to do this to his body. Female genital cutting is already forbidden by law in the U.S., yet boys do not enjoy such protection through the law. This is a serious double standard and unconstitutional, not to mention completely unethical and wrong.

    • Suzy says:

      I'm comparing it to something else largely because the original article above actually introduced circumcision as a case being compared to something else: tattooing a child. It's kind of strange that people cannot discuss this issue objectively, consider the ethical principles that influence our decisions about it, without kind of going over the cliff. Just take ANY case of doing a medical procedure on a child, then.

      • The Wife says:

        @Suzy, you canNOT compare an optional tattoo to anything but an OPTIONAL procedure. Since RICs are the *only* medically unnecessary surgeries performed on children on a regular basis, it is the ONLY procedure we can compare it to. Additionally, it is the author of the article that chose to make the comparison, so if you wish to discuss a different topic (for instance, whether children should EVER be allowed to get tattoos before they turn 18) you should probably have that discussion someplace where THAT is the topic. Makes sense, no?

        As for your just plain stupid comment that the topic of circumcision can't be discussed "objectively" without people "going over a cliff," maybe you should consider what topic IS being discussed. The topic isn't whether tattooing a child is ethical or whether it should be illegal. The topic is specifically whether it is reasonable for tattooing a child to be illegal while circumcision is not. You came here to give your opinion, which you've done, but you have NOT argued the topic at hand. Not to mention that your opinion has been formed based solely on misinformation, a lack of information, and in some cases outright lies. If you disagree with any of the information provided (though you'd kind of actually have to READ what's been posted to do that), then why don't you provide ANY information to the contrary? Because so far, aside from unverified claims, you've given no facts whatsoever. If you believe you have ANY information, other than just your own (quite honestly, uninformed) opinion, I'd be more than happy to read it.

        You initially claimed that those of us comparing the legality of tattooing a child, with that of RIC circumcision, were doing so based solely on our ethical opinions, or our moral opinions, while ignoring the medical justification. After the author, myself, and many others, provided facts to prove that RIC is NOT medically necessary, you're trying to bring it back around to ethics! Well, ETHICALLY, if we don't allow parents to tattoo their children, if they can't give their kids alcohol, if they aren't allowed to give them Botox injections (all of which cause less IMMEDIATE and verified long term damage than circumcision) then ETHICALLY, parents should NOT be allowed to have non-medically necessary cosmetic surgery performed on their sons. Because the body belongs to the boy, and that BOY should decide what's done to it.

        What point are you going to try to argue now?

        • Suzy says:

          Well, I know this may be surprising, given all the cap-locks and ad hominem being directed my way, but I'm not arguing in favor of circumcision. Rather, the original article was making the point that if circumcision is okay under the law, then it seems inconsistent to prosecute this woman for tattooing her child, and indeed, it should be that the tattooing is permitted and the circumcision is not. So, in response, I am merely pointing out that I would like to see parental liberty preserved in both cases, and furthermore, I'm curious about where ethical lines might be drawn around such cases. I can imagine situations where, for instance, I would no longer be comfortable with the parent allowing the tattoo. Am I willing to tolerate that for the larger commitment to keeping the state out of such matters as much as possible? I don't know. I certainly do think it's ethical for parents to give children alcohol in some contexts (e.g. a small glass of wine at a meal), but again, I can think of many real situations where I'm quite glad that it remains illegal (e.g. parents who allow their children to binge drink).

          What strikes me in all of these cases is that I'm trying to weigh medical consequences or medical justifications (and I wonder if that is indeed the right standard of judgment). Because some people–rightly or wrongly, and God knows by now you think it's wrongly–believe that there are good medical reasons to support their decision to circumcise, I would be uncomfortable letting the state tell them that they are no longer allowed to make that choice. If the medical evidence is really as overwhelming as you say, then sure, there would no longer be a justification. I am not, shall we say, overwhelmed by your reliability and veracity at the moment.

          • eshu21 says:

            Why should "parental liberty" be preserved in either case? Should parents have the "right" (as Christian Scientists) to deny their children life-saving medical care? Do Mormons have the "right" to force underage girls into polygamous marriages? Does a snake-handler have the "right" to throw a python or rattler into a baby's crib, because if the child is righteous G-d will protect it? Where in this society does the concept of "right" allow the permanent inking of another person's face without their consent (or the removal of perfectly healthy functional genital tissue, certainly with no exigent need, or consent of the person whose body it is) get to be considered a "right"?

            And if these are rights you would preserve, where do you stop? Can immigrants from the Middle East mutilate their girls' genitalia? Rachel Stalling's research demonstrates that Tanzanian women who had undergone FGM have lower rates of AIDS – is that not enough of a medical justification to permit parents their "rights"? Evangelicals believe in a Bible that commands death for disobedient children, and the murder of witches; does that mean they cannot be put on trial for exercising their "rights"?

            The removal of a perfectly healthy foreskin (or other healthy body parts) without the consent of the person involved is an unethical act; note that doctors no longer automatically remove tonsils, the appendix or the uterus (as they did through the 80's) unless there is a direct indication that this person, here and now, is having a serious medical problem that cannot be solved by other means. The foreskin is the last part of the body to treated so cavalierly; what doctor, requested by parents in whose family there is a history of breast cancer, would remove an infant girl's breast tissue to prevent an illness that does not and may never exist? Why is it that the mutilation of sexual body parts is magically a parental "right", reserved exclusively for boys?

          • Suzy says:

            –Why should parental liberty be preserved? –Because, in many cases I think the parents' specific knowledge, values, and relationship to their own children is more important than the impersonal, sometimes arbitrary, and potentially punitive interventions of the state. That's not to say parents can do whatever they want to their kids. However, it means I want to approach such questions with the presumption that liberty is better until we can clearly demonstrate the need for restriction. I'm interested in where we draw the line, which is why I was interested in the article above, since it's an exercise in reasoning about that. Some of the things you seem to have chosen, rhetorically, as obvious cases do not seem so obvious to me. For example, if I could have had my childrens' appendixes pre-emptively removed through a procedure that carried, say, the same risk as a circumcision, I definitely would have done it and would have wanted it to be a legally permitted choice. Appendicitis runs in my family and it's terribly dangerous, so I'd gladly make the trade off of one risk for the other in that case. Obviously circumcision doesn't provide such strong benefits, even according to its supporters, but are the benefits sufficient to support the choice for someone who concludes they are legit?

            The breast cancer case is more difficult, I think, and more like the circumcision case because there's a strong tendency to want the individual person to make the choice him or herself. I imagine one reason we don't do this to children who carry that deadly breast cancer gene right now is simply that the operation is best done on adults anyway. But let's imagine it's far easier to do on children or even infants, with far less risk and a much better recovery. Would we allow parents to do it? Or more to the point, would we allow some parents to choose it even if we personally thought it was the wrong choice, for our own children? Perhaps if such cancers rarely show up until adulthood, when someone can decide for herself, then we feel less pressure to decide for a child. But if the problems might begin at a young age, and if the procedure were much easier for children than for adults, the scales might start tipping the other direction again. Would we allow the parents that kind of freedom? This also reminds me of the case where the parents removed the uterus and breasts of their daughter before she grew into adulthood, since she was severely disabled with a rare illness (the "Ashley treatment").

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, Had you bothered to read ANY of the information provided to you (by myself and others), perhaps you would have even the most cursory understanding of the topic, and would stop, to put it bluntly, talking out of your ass. You've made so many ignorant, unsubstantiated comments, to which well-thought out and certainly thorough responses have been made. Rather than bother using any LOGIC to back up your opinions, you've now reduced yourself to commenting negatively on my method of emphasis? lol I'm sure that's a valid argument… somewhere. What's that saying again? "If you can't beat them with logic, baffle them with bullshit"? Shame for me that I didn't remember an even more appropriate saying: "You can't beat stupidity with logic."

            If you had any idea what people are capable of, what horrors they perpetrate against each other (especially those weaker and at their mercy), then maybe you'd understand why the average person cannot be trusted to know when enough is "too much" — it's how some people don't realize that they're beating their children too hard, or too many times. You think a glass of wine is acceptable for a child. At what age? What is "too young"? How do you know what your child's metabolism is like? How do you know how much alcohol isn't too much? The truth is, you don't and you can't. And to give a child alcohol is not only dangerous, it could be deadly. With a young child, especially, allergic reactions can be severe and deadly. You don't know if your child has an alcohol allergy until it's way too late. A body isn't suddenly able to tolerate alcohol at 21, but there has to be SOME point at which we deem someone competent to make their own decisions. If we were basing it solely on biology, we would be better off choosing 25 as the defining point, as that is the age that most brains are finally fully developed. However, at 21, or even 18, a body is able to withstand "toxins" and respond to an allergic reaction with a stronger and more fully developed immune and immuno-response system.

            Most laws are not arbitrary. Most laws are enacted because enough "well meaning" people (many of them parents) have shown that they are unable to determine when enough is enough and when something is a bad idea. Everything from drunk driving to jay walking. And when a parent is the one making the poor decisions, the children are the ones who suffer. We have a lot of freedoms, and we've had many taken away from us, but the one thing that adults and young girls have is the right to bodily integrity and the freedom to decide what happens to their own bodies (with the result of any violations of those rights being punishable by law). Right now, little boys don't have those same protections. They don't because many people, just like you, REFUSE to learn the truth about what they allow (nay DEMAND, nay PAY SOMEONE TO MAKE) happen. Willful ignorance, lack of empathy, sadistic intent, or just plain sexual perversion (again to put it bluntly). A parent should never have the right to decide that their child should be deprived of a full and functioning body, and all attending sexual pleasure, simply because they think their child's genitals are ugly. THAT is sick. A parent should not gleefully and proudly discuss mutilating their child's genitals. Until such time as MGM is made illegal (and it WILL eventually be outlawed), parents should be made fully aware of how a circumcision is performed (including things such as stomach pumping and dorsal nerve blocks) as well as ALL of the risks — and the fact that there is NO verified and confirmed medical benefit whatsoever (as every official medical organization in THE WORLD recognizes). There should be absolute transparency in the sale of any foreskins, so that parents are aware that the hospital and doctor will profit additionally from the surgery (so that the bias of the doctor is obvious). How could ANY of those things be considered a bad thing?

            And though it will be outlawed eventually, the fact that ~120 children will die each year that we wait, and countless others will be horribly injured, while the rest are subject to pain and permanent disfigurement, makes me sick. Literally nauseates me. So I will continue to counter unfounded opinions with facts. Whether you think that I do it well enough really doesn't matter to me. If you were one of the people who were willing to recognize when they might be wrong, you would have read the information that has been provided for you. The fact that you haven't simply confirms that there is a pressing need for MGM to be made outlawed — so that people who choose to be willfully ignorant cannot make decisions that they have no right to be making in the first place.

          • The Wife says:

            "But let’s imagine it’s far easier to do on children or even infants, with far less risk and a much better recovery…"
            "But if the problems might begin at a young age, and if the procedure were much easier for children than for adults, the scales might start tipping the other direction again."

            @Suzy, THIS is why education is so vital. Circumcision is NOT "easier" on an infant than it is on an adult — in ANY way! In fact, it's much easier on an adult for several reasons. First, the foreskin is no longer adhered to the glans, so it is not painful to retract. Second, the penis is at it's full/adult size, so the doctor (and patient!) are aware of exactly how much skin can safely be removed without risking painful erections. Third, the patient can choose to have the less-sensitive shaft skin cut away, leaving the more-sensitive underside of the foreskin to take its place (making the scar much farther down the shaft). Fourth, the penis is not sitting in feces and urine while confined in a diaper during healing. Fifth, a man can communicate that he is in pain. He is placed under general anesthesia, so he doesn't feel pain during the surgery — and after the surgery he can be given adequate pain relief. As opposed to an infant, who cannot be given most pain relievers (specifically contraindicated in newborns), who suffer terribly DURING the surgery since ~60% of them aren't given even the woefully inadequate pain "relief" available, and who cannot communicate to the doctor that the pain medication provided is not providing adequate relief. Sixth (and most importantly), as the OWNER of the penis, the man can CHOOSE whether to have his penis modified. He can weigh the risks and benefits. He can choose to believe his doctor wholly, or research for himself what happens. He can choose to educate himself as little or as much as he wants. He is NO LONGER DEPENDENT on the whims, or lack of education, or out-dated "information" of his parent or doctor.

            The problems with this are simply that, given time to experience their foreskin, the vast majority of men would NEVER choose to have it removed. Then the doctors wouldn't make $ off the surgery, the hospitals wouldn't make $ off the surgery and selling the foreskins, the cosmetic company/skin graft company/etc. wouldn't make $ off of selling the public products made from those foreskins. I really would like for you to give me SOME explanation as to why other countries, such as Asia, Europe, and many South American countries (and now Canada and Australia as well), who have MUCH lower circumcision rates, do NOT experience the "complications" related to having an intact penis? Doesn't logic tell you that if it were truly as necessary as your doctor claims, that other countries would have the same need of it?

            Again, if you'd simply done the basic amount of research, visited even a single link that's been provided for you, you would have known that infant circumcision is NOT easier than adult circumcision, so your entire argument with regards to breast-bud removal is invalid.

          • eshu21 says:

            I'm sorry Suzy but your either-or position continually leaves out the chief participant when it comes to circumcision – the person being circumcised. Parental liberty is not the only liberty involved, there is the freedom that the man this child will become also has a right to exercise. Simply pretending there are two actors (caring educated parents vs. impersonal state) will not do. Since it is his body, I believe that his liberty overrides the other actors. By circumcising an infant, that liberty is removed. Most doctors will admit that circumcision removes (the vast majority of the time) perfectly healthy tissue, on the assumption that there may be some benefit as an adult. Despite the scientific dubiousness of that position (note the significantly lower rates of all STDs in non-circumcising Western Europe vs. baby-cutting America), it should strike anyone looking at such claims that these supposed benefits are to occur when the child becomes an adult; and since these (I believe illusory) benefits will be the same at any age circumcision is performed, therefore cutting the foreskin off a baby has the effect of limiting liberty – this very person's liberty – rather than expanding it for anyone.

            You say you would choose appendectomies on healthy babies; does that mean that you feel you have the right to inflict a 20% greater chance of Crohn"s Disease (an effect attributed to appendectomies) on the perfectly healthy body of another human being, based purely on your own fears? There is no "liberty" in that.

            You also said "The breast cancer case is more difficult, I think, and more like the circumcision case because there’s a strong tendency to want the individual person to make the choice him or herself." – don't you see that the phrase "there’s a strong tendency to want the individual person to make the choice him or herself" is the exact locus of the liberty you want to preserve? And your very arguments in favor of infant circumcision are in fact a denial of that liberty? And to further state "I imagine one reason we don’t do this to children who carry that deadly breast cancer gene right now is simply that the operation is best done on adults anyway" is pure supposition, an emotional preference – revealing that the choices made to cut healthy body parts off unconsenting babies are in fact based not on a (misattributed) concept of liberty, but rather an emotional cultural reaction in which true liberty for the person most concerned is in fact denied?

          • Suzy says:

            eshu, I agree with you that "parental liberty is not the only liberty involved," and that the liberty of the child to someday decide about his own body for himself is important. If it were true that there is no medical benefit involved at all, then for me this would be a non-issue for precisely that reason. I'm not sure how I feel about other kinds of cases where children's wishes are violated (or ignored) for the sake of aesthetic or religious reasons, but I think we need a medical reason to justify a medical, physical procedure like circumcision. So, in the absence of one, for me it wouldn't be justified.

            The fact that the benefit is deferred until the child is older doesn't concern me; there is no ethical problem with subjecting a child to surgery now in anticipation of deferred benefits later. I've done that before, as a parent, and surely would again. The only question at that point is whether the benefit is sufficient and real to justify the medical intervention, and whether the procedure is better to undergo as an infant or at an older age. I don't think there's much question that it's better to undergo circumcision as an infant, if it has to be done at all. So, that leaves the issue of medical benefit. I think people here have really mistaken my position on this. I'm not arguing in favor of circumcision and I'm not even trying to convince anyone that there is a medical benefit. I'm just saying that since reasonable people and reasonable medical experts seem to disagree on this one, it's not a good idea to restrict the choices of parents with respect to their own children.

            Since you have offered some specific arguments about the lack of medical benefit, though, I don't think you can judge anything by the lower rates of STD's in Europe vs. America, since obviously these rates as a whole have complex causes. Further, you are wrong to suggest there is "a 20% greater chance of Crohn"s Disease" after an appendectomy, implying that the appendectomy plays some causal role in any increased risk. Even if you were correct, the reason for doing one would not be "based purely on … fears" but would depend on the likelihood of developing appendicitis combined with the severity of the risk involved. (I won't go into all the details here, but there are problems with this data because only some studies show the elevated risk, the Crohn's symptoms overlap with the appendicitis symptoms, and so on. In short, it's a bad causal argument and there's insufficient evidence even for a better causal argument here.)

          • eshu21 says:

            Suzy, you said "The fact that the benefit is deferred until the child is older doesn’t concern me; there is no ethical problem with subjecting a child to surgery now in anticipation of deferred benefits later", but again I have to point out that there is not a single situation other than male circumcision in which perfectly healthy functional tissue is removed as a matter of course. I realize that there may have been extremely rare instances involving families with extreme heritable genetic flaws, but that simply isn't applicable when discussing (in the case of circumcision) sexually transmitted diseases which are easily avoided without surgery. If you can find a comparison, please post about it.

            You also said "I don’t think there’s much question that it’s better to undergo circumcision as an infant, if it has to be done at all." Based on what criteria? That statement might be true if you are talking about the physical ease of forcing the surgery on someone who has not consented to it but is incapable of fighting back, but considering that there are plenty of men who resent having been circumcised (and considering that anyone left intact still has the ability to choose surgery for himself), in what way is it "better? Certainly not as regards "the liberty of the child to someday decide about his own body for himself"

            I do recognize by the way that you are not positioning yourself as a circumcision supporter, I simplybelieve that the liberty you support cannot be equally distributed among all the actors (doctor, parents, child/man) in the event of circumcision and in this case it seems very clear that the person who really deserves the most liberty in this is the person whose body will be most affected. Clearly there are circumstances in which that would be different; one person I know was born with a misplaced urethral opening (hypospadias) and, with the medical knowledge available forty years ago, there really was no choice but to circumcise him, so that the misplaced opening (which was blocked by the foreskin so he could not urinate) could be treated. That is why I make a distinction between an actual medical condition that has to be dealt with at the time, and a theoretical future situation that may never occur, and for which there are other less extreme choices that can be made by the man himself.

            I am glad to hear you say "I don’t think you can judge anything by the lower rates of STD’s in Europe vs. America, since obviously these rates as a whole have complex causes", because that is exactly one of the arguments made by those of us opposed to circumcision in relation to the African AIDS studies. For example, some African tribal groups have very relaxed attitudes towards prostitution, others do not. Some groups prefer to practice "dry sex" (with greater injury to genital skin) and others do not. It is exactly these cultural differences that may account for the fact that many African nations (Cameroon, Guinea, Lesotho, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, see http://www.measuredhs.com/pubs/pdf/CR22/CR22.pdf) have higher rates of AIDS among circumcised men. That is exactly why the African studies, riddled with problems as they were (only the circumcised men were paid for their participation, and given lengthy additional free medical care and safe sex instruction among other flaws: http://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/full/10.2217/17469600.2.3.193). I for one would argue that America's social and sexual culture, while not identical to Western Europe's, is certainly closer to that model than Africa's.

            Considering the number of studies from around the world that show no benefit to circumcision (here are just a few: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1753-6405.2011.00761.x/full , http://sti.bmj.com/content/79/6/499.full , http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18280846?dopt=Abstract ) I would say the evidence of benefit to circumcision re: STDs is in fact a very good parallel to that of appendectomies and Crohn's – your description, that some studies show a connection and some do not – is also exactly correct, when it comes to circumcision (talking about "insufficient evidence even for a better causal argument here", also supports the anti-circumcision position). There are certainly medical authorities who do accept a connection between appendectomies and Crohn's, and those who do not – which is why the surgery is only performed when it is really necessary, which is precisely my point. Again, liberty is best served when the individual most concerned makes the decision for themselves, as an adult.

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy & eshu21, To clarify something… Crohn's disease is NEVER "caused" by an appendectomy. Crohn's disease has long been accepted as an autoimmune disease. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autoimmune_disease ) with well known genetic causality. Recent studies indicate that it is caused by an immune-system deficiency, however while there is some doubt over the exact nature of the initial cause, it is not related in any way to the presence or removal of another organ. Environment and coinciding illnesses are a factor in the onset of symptoms. Any cause & effect relationship with appendicitis/appendectomy is related to the experience of SYMPTOMS, not the creation of the disease out of whole cloth in an otherwise healthy body. If a patient is asymptomatic but has appendicitis/appendectomy, then symptoms can become apparent. That does not mean that an appendix condition has CAUSED the disease. A person who is experiencing the first onset of acute symptoms MIGHT mistake them for appendicitis, however an oral medical history would indicate a long-term problem. Even if, for some reason, there was no prior medical history to indicate that the symptoms were gastrointestinal versus appendiceal, it would become evident at the time of appendiceal surgery. It is not uncommon for acute onset of gastrointestinal pain to be confused with appendicitis, however the physical examination of the appendix will rule it out. Of course, the appendix may already be removed by that point (many doctors, as is the case with circumcision, cut first and "ask questions" later), but its removal is not likely to be life-threatening, and the quick discovery of a severe gastrointestinal problem (such as Crohn's or something more emergent, like an intussusception) may be life preserving. I'm not sure how Crohn's disease managed to worm its way into this discussion, but it is not corollary in any way.

          • Suzy says:

            I'm not sure why the fact that the tissue itself is healthy is supposed to be an argument against the ethics of the surgery. If we knew that heart disease could be prevented by cutting off an earlobe, my earlobe would already be gone, right? Again, it seems to boil down to whether one has good enough reason to do the procedure, weighed against all the the loss, risks, or suffering involved. I don't doubt that for most people, it's easy to see those scales tipping towards never circumcising. My question is only what we do when parents make another choice, especially when they're not just choosing for cosmetic or personal reasons, but because doctors have suggested it could be a medically helpful preventative.

            "in this case it seems very clear that the person who really deserves the most liberty in this is the person whose body will be most affected"
            This to me is the strongest argument against doing it. People who choose it will argue that the choice is much more difficult once you're older, so they feel like they are offering some benefit they couldn't as easily offer to the child later, once he's old enough to make the free choice. However, it seems like even if the stakes are higher later, the person himself also has a greater stake in the outcome. The other issue here is that parents will argue that the procedure is not as big a deal as some might say, but I'm not persuaded by that point at all. At any rate, I don't think the evidence is on their side there.

            The fact that STD's have complex causes doesn't mean that we wouldn't want to eliminate any given one of the causes–or more to the point, eliminate one thing that reduces the rate of transmission. Whether circumcision does that or not, I don't know, but if it did that would still be meaningful. The comparison with Crohn's really doesn't work, because the idea there is that a medical procedure leads to higher rates of another medical problem, but the circumcision question is whether a medical procedure leads to lower rates of another medical problem. In addition, people would rarely turn down a life-saving appendectomy for fear of getting Crohn's! Anyway, there is no reason to suppose any causal connection at all, because the two conditions share symptoms and perhaps even common causes. Let's grant that there is precisely that higher risk of Crohn's, though: the point is that if an appendectomy required the same level of surgical intervention as a circumcision, parents should be able to choose a preventative one for their child with the guidance of a doctor. In other situations where a preventative procedure is chosen, despite some risks, we would let parents make the call for their kids. Why not in this one too?

          • eshu21 says:

            Suzy, you said:

            "I’m not sure why the fact that the tissue itself is healthy is supposed to be an argument against the ethics of the surgery. If we knew that heart disease could be prevented by cutting off an earlobe, my earlobe would already be gone, right".

            Firstly, you are positing a one-to-one correspondence between heart health and earlobe removal. A more accurate comparison would be (to use your analogy) "if less than one-onehundredth of a percent of heart disease could in some studies be potentially reduced by the loss of my earlobe…" It is because the correlations are so inexact and the potential benefits (if any) so slight when one looks at actual numbers and reads all the studies about STDs and circumcision worldwide, that the reason why removal of healthy tissue without the consent of the person involved is revealed as unethical. Any decisions about a very slim distant possible future benefit (and including the recognition of what will also be lost) is a right of the individual most concerned to decide, no one else.

            You also cloud the issue of when your "earlobe removal" takes place; I can have no objection to you choosing to have body parts removed as an adult – but the issue at the heart of the circumcision debate is always involving infant (or child) genital mutilation.

            Further, you ignore the potential harms to surgery on healthy tissue. Besides the possibilities of mutilation, deformity and death from circumcision ( http://circumstitions.com/Botched1.html , http://circumstitions.com/Restric/Botched4ga.html , http://www.cirp.org/library/death/ ), studies from Korea and Europe have shown higher rates of sexual dysfunction later in life due to the surgery ( http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=21672947 , http://www.circumcision.org/studies.htm , http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/06/13/ije.dyr104.abstract , http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/180947.html ).

            One study has demonstrated that boys who had been circumcised showed higher sensitivity to pain years after the surgery, other research has revealed other psychological issues ( http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/boyle6/ ). A recent study in Europe has shown a greater rate of alexithemia in circumcised men ( http://www.mensstudies.com/content/2772r13175400432/?p=a7068101fbdd48819f10dd04dc1e19fb&pi=4 ).

            To both Suzy and the Wife – I brought up the issue of Crohn's and its possible relationship to appendectomies very specifically because there is obvious evidence that we still have a great deal of misconceptions about which parts of the body are functional, and whether their removal may cause other problems later in life. Clearly, to me, the excision of perfectly healthy functional tissue without the consent of the person involved is deeply unethical; Suzy, since you disagree I was bringing up a similar though not identical situation. At no point did I say that anyone would "refuse a life-saving appendectomy" due to the possibility of Crohn's (and it is disingenuous of you to imply I did) – my argument is clearly that removal of a healthy appendix – or tonsils – or foreskin – in an infant/child in advance of any disease that is unlikely ever to occur is an act that, aside from its ethical issues, may also create physical problems later in life.

            To the Wife: clearly I agree with your anti-circumcision position, but I think your blanket statement "To clarify something… Crohn’s disease is NEVER "caused" by an appendectomy. Crohn’s disease has long been accepted as an autoimmune disease" is inaccurate. That is a current assumption among some researchers, never proved in research. One doctor, who does not believe in a possible connection, was moved to say "The persistent association between Crohn's disease and appendectomy beyond one year makes on think that perhaps the appendix plays more of a role in the regulation of the gut's immune system than we realize" (Dr. Edward Loftus, Mayo Clinic).

            The issue of Crohn's was brought up by me very specifically to illustrate that random body-part removal (absent a direct urgent medical need) can have unexpected negative physical consequences. This is why doctors no longer remove healthy appendixes, tonsils, or uteruses on the assumption of some potential future risk-free benefit. Only circumcision still retains that unenviable position, which indicates that male genital mutilation persists due to cultural and psychological reasons, more than medical need.

  • Mary Lanser says:

    And doctors, nurses and hospitals DO NOT give a full disclosure about circumcision, normal functions of the foreskin, nor do they specifically inform parents that the part of their child's body that they are consenting to be cut off, will be sold for big bucks to cosmetic and research companies. This is ALSO unethical. And please don't compare drops in eyes for pink eye….that is absurd!

  • Mary Lanser says:

    You would have to get proof that hospitals where you live don't sell baby boy foreskins, because I don't believe it. It is TOO profitable for a hospital to ignore. And it is also common for babies to get an injection in the base of the penis these days….though this wears off and the baby is still in pain. It is used as an excuse for saying well the baby didn't feel a thing…..SO WHAT, you still cut part of his sexual anatomy off whether you used "pain management" or not! In fact, hospitals encourage doctors to NOT use any anesthesia because the foreskin is not as valuable with pain medication in it. Do some research on this if you don't believe it, rather than just stating an opinion of belief.

    • Suzy says:

      You know, under different circumstances I might have been glad to actually tell you where I had my babies and then you could have checked the proof for yourself by phoning them up. However, at the moment I'm wondering if people would show up with pitchforks and burning stakes outside my door, so I'm a little reluctant to disclose any personal information here. You'll be glad to know that after I did all my initial research into this subject when I was first pregnant (I didn't know the sex of the baby), I ended up having a girl. Whew! However, I can assure you, unless I'm being lied to, that my doctor and hospital do not sell any foreskins, and do not inject painkiller into the penis (they use other pain relief methods, though). So, this is not my "opinion of belief", although it is surely anecdotal evidence.

      Maybe it would help to offer a different and surely even more serious analogy, since you don't seem to grasp that I'm not comparing the gravity of circumcision to the gravity of an eyedrop. Personally, I think abortion is generally unethical. However, I recognize exceptions to this general rule, and unfortunately they often fall into areas where the pro-life lobby has been most successful at restricting abortion or abortion access (for example, a late-term abortion following some terrible tragedy, like exencephaly, that happens in an otherwise much-wanted pregnancy). For this reason, as a political principle I would rather keep the state out of these matters as the decision maker. I know that if I take this position, there will be some legal cases of abortions that I might consider an unethical choice. On the other hand, it's more important to me that the doctor and patient be able to make this decision themselves, because the situations are so individual and specific, and it seems that a blanket rule from the state is going to do more harm than letting individuals have the freedom. Think of circumcision in this way, if you can for a moment suspend judgment on the question of medical necessity: some people think it's a good idea not because they are sadists or idiots, but because they believe the medical information they are given about potential benefits. Now, you may think all of this information is bogus, but the fact is that people are regularly told this by their doctors. I would rather not have the law intervene to say that these doctors are all wrong, and patients can no longer act on this advice. I get that some people here want to see that situation change, and that's fine, but that's not the ethical situation we have right now. Instead, you have people weighing medical information, coming to a different conclusion than you. In those cases, even if I think the people might be wrong, I like to see liberty preserved. It's a tough thing sometimes, but I like liberty.

      • eshu21 says:

        You keep talking about "liberty" being preserved, without ever defining your terms; don't baby boys have a right to intact bodies (outside of direct medical need)? Is that also not "liberty", to choose their looks for themselves as adults? Don't the rights of others end where my body begins?

        If a child had cancer of the bone in say a leg, no rational person would object to the bone's/limb's removal as a last resort. But when tissue is healthy, what about the rights and liberties of the man that baby will become? He always has the option to have his body modified as an adult; what irrational concept of "liberty" considers cosmetic body modification of an infant acceptable?

        In fact, far too many people in this country like to hysterically cry "liberty" as an excuse for ending the sort of government protections that would have prevented the economic mess we now find ourselves in. What this distorted idea of "liberty" actually leads to is anarchy; if forced facial tattooing and surgical genital modification of an infant's genitals are now "liberty" I am afraid that what people are really considering an ideal is a bunker mentality, in which rule goes to those with the most force to enact their wills upon others. The whole point of government laws to protect babies from circumcision, tattooing, etc. is to protect the helpless from a (sometimes irreversible) harm. In your world, if a caretaker feels that their aging parents would be best served by tying them up and feeding them dog food,what right does the government have to intervene in their "liberties"? Ah, the sweet freedom of total liberty!

      • The Wife says:

        One more comment on this line of posts: You say that people are weighing medical information, that you think they're getting information that just happens to be "different" somehow from what "we" are getting. Do you think that it's okay that they're being lied to? That they are NOT being given accurate and up-to-date information? That the risks are minimized and the benefits wholly exaggerated? That these "doctors" (in reality, considering the falling rates of circumcisions in the US and the more current data the new graduates are getting a small percentage) are holding on to antiquated notions that *no official medical organization in the WORLD supports*? Shouldn't parents be given FACTS, not simply told that it's "no big deal" or a "useless flap of skin" or that "it's healthier", without any supporting data? How ETHICAL can it possibly be for a doctor to deny a parent ALL of the necessary data before allowing them to remove a healthy, functional, important part of their child's SEX ORGANS on a whim??? There's a reason men can now sue the doctors who performed their circumcisions — and win. (And no, not for "damage" beyond what is expected — simply for violating their human rights.)

        • Suzy says:

          No doctor ever told me that it was any of the things you said, including "it's healthier". Rather, I was given specific information about the kinds of benefits that might be gained, I was told about the limitations of that information, and I was referred to supporting data.

          • The Wife says:

            @Suzy, then by all means, please tell me what your doctor said that could have been convincing enough to you to convince you that something that *no official medical organization in THE WORLD* supports could *possibly* be worthwhile. Please.

      • johann_galt says:

        S, you said you had a daughter. If you are so eager to push circumcision of male neonates, why didn't you at least have your daughter's clitoral hood incised and removed? If neonatal circumcision is such a wonderful thing, why not let females enjoy it as well?

        • Suzy says:

          If that procedure offered sufficient medical benefits for girls, then yes, I think parents should be allowed to choose it. I personally don't know of any such benefits to girls from that procedure, so obviously I didn't seek to have it done to my children.

    • The Wife says:

      @Suzy, Here's a news flash for you: Your doctor lied to you. If your doctor said that there is any pressing (or even verifiable) medical need for circumcision, he lied. If your doctor told you that there are "other" pain relieving methods used for circumcisions (other than the 3 I've mentioned: dorsal nerve block, topical "pain relief" cream, and general anesthesia), he's lying. If he told you that they don't sell the foreskin? I'm pretty confident in he's lying. I don't know how old your daughter is — perhaps several years ago the hospital DIDN'T sell them. I'd be willing to bet money that they sell them NOW. The market is too great.

      I realize that I seem like such a scary person — doing something SO awful as to *demand* that you actually inform yourself on a topic before stating an opinion. Asking you to do something so atrocious as to provide ANY official source of facts to support your claims. Replying to your erroneous statements with verifiable data… How scary that is! Given that I'm all but certain my children are older than yours, let me tell you — making decisions for them only gets harder. So if you're unwilling to educate yourself now, if you're actually willing to believe any random *garbage* that comes out of your doctor's mouth, simply because he has a piece of paper that says he's supposed to know what he's talking about… well, you're going to find that those decisions you make are most often wrong. It's unfortunate that the people that will suffer the most from it are those wholly dependent on you to *protect* them. From people who will butcher them for money. From people who will butcher them because of outdated and false data. Do yourself — and any potential son you have — a favor. Educate yourself. NEVER trust someone, be that a doctor or me, without checking out the facts for yourself. I cannot tell you how many times a "second opinion" (meaning an educated opinion that differs from an uneducated first source) has *literally* saved my life, and my husband's life. Do you know what they call someone who graduates last in their class from med school? Doctor. Never hand your child over to someone to be cut up (for any reason) without verifying that they actually know what they're talking about.

      And think about motives, just for a moment. Those of us, including the author, who are opposed to ROUTINE infant circumcision, what could our reasons possibly be? Do you doubt that we love our children? Do you doubt that we want what's best for them? I'm sure that many parents who have their sons circumcised MEAN well. But you know the saying about good intentions… We have NOTHING TO GAIN from spreading awareness, other than saving little boys from pain and suffering. Your doctor has EVERYTHING to gain from performing a surgery, for ANY reason. Whose motives are really in question here? I doubt your mind will change. After all, you're claiming FEAR of me, all because I have the AUDACITY to provide you with information that goes against what you apparently want to hear. You don't seem like a complete moron, but you seem unwilling or unable to look past what you've been told or what you're used to. You're not really the one I'm still responding for. I'm responding for the sake of anyone else who may read this, and maybe have the same questions you have, but who might be a bit more open-minded when it comes to the truth.

      Personally, I'm not afraid of you. My name is Jennifer Myrna. I live in Maryland. I run a blogging empire with my husband. We're actually pretty funny people. We have a lot of fans, we make people laugh. We poke fun at trashy romance novels at http://romance.unclewaltersrants.com and http://covers.unclewaltersrants.com Readers and authors alike enjoy our site. Our readers tend to be of above average intelligence and thoughtful. I just also happen to think that little boys, like my son, are important enough to have someone fight for them.

      • eshu21 says:

        Thank you for protecting your sons from this butchery – I wish all mothers were more like you! I do recommend you to:
        http://intactamerica.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/talking-points-for-intactivists-part-one/

      • Suzy says:

        My doctor did not lie to me about anything. The hospital where I have my babies does not sell foreskins (I actually checked to be sure!) and never has. I don't believe "any random garbage" my doctor says. My doctor isn't even the one in the practice who does circumcisions, because my doctor is too busy with other high risk pregnancy situations. I appreciate your concern for my dependents who will be butchered because of my failures to protect them. In your zeal to paint me as an idiot who is diametrically opposed to your moral position, you may be missing the fact that your approach is not persuasive. The problem might indeed be your audacity, but not the audacity to provide information, in particular.

        • The Wife says:

          @Suzy, As I said, I just don't believe you that the hospitals near you don't sell foreskins. Perhaps, assuming you actually DID ask (which is suspect as well), you spoke to some administrative staff who doesn't know what is done with them. Or perhaps they couch the sale of foreskin in some other terms, such as "donations" (to which they receive tax deductions, or they are given a reduced price in the purchase of the skin grafts made from the "donated" foreskin). Whatever the reason that you believe that they don't sell them, I'm not buying it. And until such time as you can provide me with a source to personally verify, I (and others, as they have mentioned) will not swallow it.

          If your doctor indicated to you that there is any accepted medical reason to perform RIC, then it's garbage. If you believe it, you've believed the random garbage your doctor has said. And whether your doctor directly performs them, as opposed to any other doctor in his practice, he still benefits from the procedure (money brought into the practice benefits everyone in the practice, especially if, as is usually the case, they are partners).

          I haven't painted you as anything — I have simply shown what your absurd justifications are: absurd. If that makes you feel like you're being painted as something other than what you believe yourself to be, then perhaps you should reexamine how you appear. Or what you *genuinely* believe, as opposed to what you THINK you believe.

          As for whether my "approach" (as opposed to it being the end result of a lengthy attempt to reason with you, where you've been completely unresponsive to logic) is effective… even though the *medical data* I have provided and referenced has nothing to do with my "moral position", no matter how much you want to try to twist it from ethics, to science, to ethics, to science, then back to ethics again… *shrug* You've made it obvious that you're unwilling to make even a cursory attempt to research the facts. So… you can remain happy in your ignorance, but someone else may be willing to expend the energy to try to learn… and they may be even MORE eager to do so because they're unwilling to associate themselves with your bizarre opinions.

          • Suzy says:

            Again, let's pretend that I am a pregnant woman trying to decide whether to do this to her son. I know and trust my doctor, and I have called up my hospital and been informed categorically that they do not sell foreskins. Then, you tell me that you "will not swallow" my story, that everything my doctor is telling me is "random garbage", that my argument–not for circumcision, but for parental choice–is based on "feelings" even though I have no feeling one way or the other about it, and that I'm "unresponsive to logic". Can you imagine why I would not find that a terribly persuasive response?

            If you're right that doctors pointing patience to evidence on both sides of this debate are liars, sadists, and profiteers, then great, we shouldn't be letting people decide. However, if I have every reason to believe that's false, then what? The government is supposed to enter the picture and tell me I can't listen to my doctor, or to my own conscience, when deciding about circumcision? Again, the AAP does not say that circumcision should not be done. Instead, it says that it should be left up to parental choice with medical guidance, which is precisely the wild "feeling" for which I am arguing at present. If you have a problem with this, my suggestion would be to try to persuade the AAP to change their position.

  • Suzy says:

    You're kind of begging the question, when you say that circumcision is a cosmetic body modification. I know you believe that it is, but what about people who don't believe that? I suppose we could dismiss all of their concerns, but then we'd be asking them to ignore what their doctors are saying, so I think that's too much to demand. I find it unlikely that doctors would advise cosmetic limb removal, so I'm not very concerned about that counterexample. I also find it unlikely that granting liberty in these tattoo or circumcision cases would mean that, for consistency's sake, we need to allow caretakers to bind their aging parents and feed them dog food. Maybe if you could explain why those cases actually operate on the same principle, that would help.

    • eshu21 says:

      Nope, no begging the question here. As I stated above, most doctors admit that circumcision is the removal of perfectly healthy tissue – and that the (supposed) benefits actually occur when the baby becomes an adult man. Since circumcision therefore could take place at a number of different ages, choosing to have it done when the person most involved is incapable of consent (or defending himself), it is clear that other factors than health have come into play.

      Since these "benefits" are for a later adult rather than a baby, the push to perform male genital mutilation on infants must have a powerful emotional component. Does the mother have an "ick" reaction looking at a natural penis? Does the father feel uncomfortable seeing his son have genital parts he does not possess and so insists the baby "must look like me"? Clearly then, however submerged, the insistence on mutilating a baby has a psychological and cosmetic component that far outweighs any real exigent health benefit to the baby, and fails to justify performing surgery on the unconsenting.

      If you believe in liberty as you repeatedly claim, then performing surgical genital modification without the consent of the person involved and at an age in which they do not have the freedom to choose for themselves, you have in fact restricted liberty, not expanded it and it is specious reasoning to claim otherwise. Also, you might want to reread my post – I made no mention of cosmetic limb removal ("He always has the option to have his body modified as an adult" refers to circumcision) but rather pointed out hat no one could rationally object to the removal of a cancerous limb of a child if a parent had to make that decision. Circumcision, the removal of healthy functioning tissue is a point where a line is crossed between the necessary caretaking of a parent and an unethical infringement on the liberty and bodily integrity of another human being.

      My argument, by the way, about caretakers for the elderly feeding them dog food is clearly a reductio ad absurdam meant to demonstrate that your stereotyping of government laws to protect the helpless as cold and impersonal vs. the "always-better" choices of parents is exactly that – a stereotype, and a poor one at that. Do you agree with Ron Paul that the government should never have passed the 1964 Civil Rights Act (because governmental actions are always bad) but rather depended on kindly Southern parents to raise their children to share lunch counters with racial minorities (because parental choices always lead to greater liberty)?

      • Suzy says:

        This is why it's question begging: your argument assumes that if a procedure is done for "cosmetic modification" of an infant's body, then it's unacceptable. However, the premise at issue is whether the procedure is cosmetic modification in the first place. I'm not talking about cases where people say "ick" or feel uncomfortable or want the baby's parts to all look a certain way. I don't think those case are acceptable either. I'm talking about the fact that some medical experts think there are potential medical benefits to this procedure, and it's not a settled question at least for some people, so why must we force them to adopt a certain position on that matter? Yes, I get that you disagree. Everyone has made that quite clear. But that is beside the point.

        The "reductio" argument only works if it makes the same kind of inferences as the original. Otherwise, it's just a wild exaggeration. I think it's quite possible to want to preserve freedom for parents to make medical decisions about their children, while still supporting the Civil Rights Act. I'm not arguing that government restrictions are always bad, or that individual choices are always better, and that's completely obvious.

        • eshu21 says:

          On the contrary, as I state above, "since circumcision therefore could take place at a number of different ages, choosing to have it done when the person most involved is incapable of consent (or defending himself), it is clear that other factors than health have come into play." Again, I have to bring up the unique nature of circumcision as a procedure – no matter how you may wish to have say preventive appendectomies, they are in fact not happening. Considering how immediately life-threatening at any age appendicitis may be, there have to be special reasons why circumcision survives and other automatic removal of healthy tissue does not.

          I repeat, since the supposed medical benefits are supposed to accrue later in life for the sexually mature male and are largely tangent upon his own behavior, there are clearly other reasons, however unexpressed, that continue to support the genital mutilation of male babies. These are highly unlikely to be purely medical, as the coldly scientific justifications for other (nonexistent) automatic surgeries removing healthy functional tissue can be so much greater. Appendicitis can happen to anyone at any time and be immediately life-threatening; breast cancer strikes one out of eight women in this country; where are their automatic infant surgeries?

          It is always a mistake to exempt the psychological when explaining this continued knee-jerk mass alteration of male babies' genitalia. Clearly you have not tried to discuss the issue with many parents as I have; it is easy to present a mountain of scientific evidence demonstrating no medical benefit to circumcision (and also studies showing actual harm), but in the end rationality itself cannot persuade – eventually, the arguments "I want him to look like me" and "I think it looks nicer" always, and I do mean always, come up. At root, medical rationalizations are frequently used as a cover and justification for a pre-existing preference based on cultural ideas of attractiveness, and a psychological need for the father to be the norm against which his sons are compared (see also http://circumstitions.com/meme.html ).

          You said "The "reductio" argument only works if it makes the same kind of inferences as the original", which is exactly what my comparison did. You are stating (however unconsciously) that the boundaries allowed a caretaker should be as wide as possible, even if it takes liberty away from the [future adult] person involved, and that these extremely wide boundaries are preferable to government intervention. How can you justify a so-called medical decision involving removal of perfectly healthy parts of the genitalia of children, with no urgent necessity, altering their bodies and functionality for life, and declare this outside the bounds of government despite it's utter unethical disregard of the rights of the adult this child will become, and yet feel you have the "right" to interfere in the caretaker relationship between a person and their elderly parents? Who are you to decide that their decisions are wrong just because you would decide differently? You have no ethical basis for opposing government intervention to stop unnecessary surgery on a child's genitals, while saying they do have such power when it comes to the relationship of a caretaker and an elderly parent. Further, I would state that if you believe the government cannot intervene in one of the most basic rights any human being can have – the right of self-determination about their own body – how can you possibly justify government intervention in social and economic situations as well? If there is a hierarchy of values to be protected here, I would say protection of the individual rates far higher than any crank belief (facial gang tattoos, female as well as male genital mutilation, denial of genuinely needed medical care, etc.) a person may hold, just because they are capable of reproducing.

          • Suzy says:

            I assume we don't have preventative appendectomies only because there are more serious risks involved in the procedure. The question is, if I could do something hypothetically equal to circumcising a boy, and thereby achieve the benefits of lifelong protection against appendicitis, should I be able to do it without legal interference? I think absolutely yes, parents should be able to make that call with the guidance of a doctor. So obviously, circumcision doesn't offer that level of benefit in my opinion. However, there is disagreement about what level of benefit it does offer, and I take it that disagreement is legitimate enough that state intervention is not warranted, and parents should be able to decide it with their doctors. If I thought doctors were all lying profiteers who were pushing circumcisions like snake oil, I might feel differently, but then, that's kind of the point. Under those circumstances, the hysterical response of some who oppose circumcision is truly not helpful. It discredits the position in a way that matters, especially when it can be hard to weigh the evidence as a non-expert.

            I have not at all argued that the behavior of caretakers should have as wide a boundary as possible. That's why your reduction is, again, simply exaggeration. For example, if there were no medical or otherwise beneficial reason at all to feed a person dog food or tie them up, obviously that would be ruled out from the get-go. So what is your point? If I want parents to be able to decide some cases, I have to be willing to let them decide in every possible crazy case? No, not really.

  • Petite Poulet says:

    It looks like Suzy became the lightning rod by taking the view of the common American mom. Why would the doctor suggest something if it is bad for my baby? There are several reasons. 1) he gets paid more if he circumcises his baby, 2) he knows less about circumcision than Suzy does, 3) the only thing he learned about the foreskin in medical school is how to cut it off, 4) if he doesn't do circumcisions he will be harassed by the nursing staff and administration of the hospital, 5) his is likely circumcised himself, but having had performed the procedure did not have it done on his sons, 6) he is afraid of upsetting parents.

    While agree that infant circumcision is child abuse, mutilation, and fits the statutory definition of child sexual abuse, Suzy is typical in being put off such descriptions. The same thing happened in Africa when outsiders referred to female circumcision as female genital mutilation. Using such language worked against their efforts.

    The question Suzy needs to ask and the circumcision promoters have been unable to answer is why circumcision can't wait until the child is old enough to make the decision for himself. If there is no reason it can't wait, then it can wait.

    As far as the ethical issues, it is rather straight-forward. It is internationally agreed that all humans have a right to bodily integrity: no one can cut off our body parts without our permission or a compelling reason. The medical reasons are not compelling enough to violate the infant's basic human right to bodily integrity.

    Parents have a responsibility to protect the basic human rights of their children, either from people outside the family or from themselves. Parents to do not have the right to violate the basic human rights of their own children.

    When given the responsibility of making the decision for someone else, the ethical approach is to do what they would likely choose for themselves. If there is no immediacy to make a decision, it should be delayed until they can make the decision for themselves. If I have pink eye, I would choose to use eye drops. Nearly everyone would. So, giving a child eye drops for pink eye is something they would choose for themselves if they were able to do so. As far as male circumcision goes, very few would choose to get circumcision, even in cultures where circumcision is ubiquitous. As far as deciding for others it pretty easy to see: treatment of illness, yes; cutting off healthy body parts for no clear reason, no.

    The other major ethical issue is using the baby as a means to end, rather than treating them as an end in themselves, usually referred to using someone instrumentally. Having a baby circumcised because the parents need to fulfill their religious obligation, because the parents like a certain cosmetic appearance, because the parents want the baby marked similar to the rest of their cultural group. or because the parents don't want the hassle of explaining to their friends and family why they didn't circumcise their son are all examples of treating the child instrumentally. When we treat the child as a pawn like this we are not treating him with the respect that is due to him as a human being. Nearly everyone considers this behavior unethical.

    So, Suzy, how does infant circumcision compare to tattoos? Circumcision violates the child's bodily integrity, treats the child instrumentally, marks his genitals against his will, and inflicts an injury on him that he would unlikely choose for himself.

    The tattoo case of the seven-year old in California violated his bodily integrity, treated him instrumentally, marked him against his will, and inflicted an injury that he may or may not have chosen for himself (a kid is more likely to choose to get tattooed than circumcised).

    The case of the ten-year-old in Georgia who wanted a tattoo, his bodily integrity was violated, he was not treated instrumentally by someone else, he was not marked against his will, and he was inflicted with an injury that he would have likely chosen for himself.

    So, Suzy, if you have a boy, leave his genitals alone, if he want to get circumcised when he is 16, we will pitch in to pay for it. I think our money is safe, if not it gets to earn interest for 16 years. You will also likely get him to admit, usually when they are in their 20s, that they are very thankful that you didn't have him circumcised.

  • Suzy says:

    Well, you've managed to attribute a lot of views to me that have no relationship whatsoever to what I am actually saying. You also attribute a lot of things to doctors that range from random speculation to just false. When I had a baby, it cost about $30,000. I trust that circumcision is not a big driver of profits for my OB/GYN, who hasn't the slightest concern whether parents decide to do it or not.

    Because you believe that there are no medical benefits to circumcision, and that there is no reason it can't wait until a child is older, you also conclude that it's a human rights violation, child abuse, and so on. Okay, maybe you're right. The point is, however, that when parents have different beliefs about the medical benefit, not because they're insane but because they're simply listening to what medical experts advise, they no longer fit into the category of treating the child instrumentally, inflicting injury that wouldn't be chosen, and so on. They may be ignorant, but that is a separate question. I realize nobody here can see that at the moment. However, the fact that people go straight to this presumptive, hostile mode of argument does not bode well for persuasive efforts. On the one side, you have people like your doctors, who are trying to provide the current state of the medical evidence without making any attempt to sway you towards pros or cons. On the other side, you have people saying that well-meaning parents who are trying to sort out confusing medical info on this subject are in fact international-level human rights violators and child abusers. Who do you think is more likely to believed by the expecting parents? It's kind of like the people who think abortion = murder = the Holocaust. Really? Then we need to have an armed intervention at every abortion clinic, immediately! Everyone involved needs to be imprisoned! Overstepping the bounds this way with your argument is not particularly helpful.

  • Fred Rhodes says:

    @Suzy circumcising your boy is the equivalent to excising your daughter's G spot nerves, clitoral hood and some of the labia, leaving only the clitoris for sexual stimulation. If your doctor explained it to you this way would you still allow it to be taken from your son?

    • Suzy says:

      First, it's not equivalent to that. What are the "g-spot nerves", for instance, and where are you finding those on the boy? But let's assume that I could achieve future medical benefits for my daughter by having part of her clitorial hood and labia removed in infancy. Well, if my doctor tells me that there are some such benefits, though there is disagreement about it, I suppose I'd have to look into it future and see whether it was worthwhile. If I did, perhaps I'd conclude it wasn't a good idea. On the other hand, if I concluded that the benefits were strong enough, maybe I'd agree to this procedure. So, a couple of points relevant here: 1) I'm not a sadist, monster, or ignoramus if I do that, and 2) the question is when we can decide that a parent is no longer able to make the choice at all. To get back to the point of the original article for a moment, let's compare that to a parent who tattoos her child. If she thinks it will be of psychological benefit to the child, should the law say no? I can see some cases where I'd agree, and others (like the specific one above) where I'd disagree.

      • The Wife says:

        @Suzy, those arguments were all made, at one point or another, to encourage circumcision of girls. And just as with RIC of males, those medical "benefits" have been debunked. However, the procedure wasn't entrenched in a religion popular enough to lobby for it. So female circumcision was outlawed.

        The "g-spot" on a woman is an internalized area of nerves extending from the clitoris. The clitoris is homologous with the glans penis, and the "clitoral hood" (female prepuce) is homologous with the male prepuce/foreskin. The frenulum, as part of the foreskin, is the "wrap around" portion of the female prepuce, which is analogous to the internalized structure of the clitoris and its attendant nerves, which is what makes up the female "g-spot". So… foreskin = male "g-spot".

        If anyone follows their doctors "advice" to remove an otherwise healthy, functional part of a person's body, without getting several other opinions and doing a VAST amount of research, they are being willfully ignorant. If they allow the surgery, then BRAG about the pain they've inflicted on their child, they're ignorant AND sadistic. Where would you fall in?

  • Theo says:

    I would like to contribute to this sub-topic with some clever remarks from a previous discussion on circumcision:

    Drinkwater: "I wish that there were a button that allowed me to withdraw a comment, as I have had a chance to rethink the issue and have become that rarest of birds : a (would-be) philosopher who changes his mind.
    In fact my sleepless night has resulted in the foundation of a new religion – soon to be trade-marked and blogged. One of the principle tenets of this religion is that the penis is the arm of the devil and should be removed at birth from all males. The consequences are clearly beneficial to the whole of humanity – mortality through AIDS will virtually disappear, rape will be known only through legends of past inhumanity, true sexual and gender equality will become so much more possible and angelic voices will fill the new churches of this new libertarian religion. There is clearly enough sperm in banks around the world to assure the perpetuity of the human race – if ever supplies run low, a certain select percentage of males could be granted a (temporary) stay of castration until supply once more equals demand.
    Clearly some so-called rights activists will rush into print to call for castration to remain illegal – but I think we should :
    1. stick to our evidence-based consequentialism,
    2. Show respect for the sublteties of religious beliefs,
    3. demand that the burden of proof in a liberal society should benefit the freedom of parents to castrate their child
    Any other position clearly has severe and negative externalities."

    McGuinness: "There is no reason for gender discrimination when considering child protection.

    Pushers of the cut contradict themselves saying "Circumcision is very important that you do it, but it’s too UNimportant to consider not doing. It’s an important decision for parents to make, but also "just a snip". It is "Get over it!" and being called "Anti-Semitic"." And talk about narcissism, tribal circumcision can’t see the child in it at all… all they see is genitals that the tribe owns. I understand this better from the books The Munchausen Complex by Dr. Richard Matteolti; Marked in Your Flesh by Dr. Leonard Glick; Frenular Delta by Ken McGrath; Fine Touch Pressure Thresholds in the Adult Penis by Sorrells et al.; Sex As Nature Intended by O’hara.

    The intact penis feels stereoscopic pleasure coming from two pleasure sources, the ridged band playing with the corona. This is all destroyed cutting off all the ridged band and part to all the frenulum. Removing as much skin as retained has the strong potential to move the scrotum close to the body thereby interfering with the heat regulation of sperm and bring it closer to the now changed warmer denuded penis."

    And concerning this: "The point is, however, that when parents have different beliefs about the medical benefit, not because they’re insane but because they’re simply listening to what medical experts advise, they no longer fit into the category of treating the child instrumentally".
    - Medical benefit is not a belief, it's an empirical fact. And even there were medical reasons for doing it, would it be enough, morally? Answer yes, and you will have to agree with Drinkwater's argument as well.

    • The Wife says:

      @Theo, you rock. ;)

      • Theo says:

        Thanks, but credits go to Drinkwater and McGuinness. There was a long discussion on this topic and I think that by the end all agreed that circumcision is wrong. If that debate can't convince someone, there is hardly something else that can

        • The Wife says:

          @Theo, you rock for providing the information clearly, concisely, and all in one place. :)

          It never ceases to amaze me how pro-cutters will invariably claim that we're "not going to convince anyone." The fact is, people are convinced all the time. They read posts and discussions like this and they change their minds. Any person who is willing to take even the most basic steps to educate themselves tend to be convinced pretty easily. It's only those who choose to be willfully ignorant who are unable to be "convinced." Though WHY someone would need to be convinced NOT to surgically alter their child without clear and pressing medical reason is something I can't seem to understand, either. *smh*

        • eshu21 says:

          Thanks for this! Do you have a link to the debate?

  • Petit Poulet says:

    Wow, Suzy, I agree with you and provided you the straight-forward ethical analysis you asked for and you are still hostile. I can understand that. You doctors, either through sloth, ignornance, or greed, did not provide you accurate information. I can see why you might be upset that boys are being harmed under false pretenses. I can see that having an unethical practice be nearly ubiquitous in the US as a difficult pill to swallow. Remember only 150 years ago slavery was still legal in parts of the United States. It was dressed up as being in the Bible, being needed for economic security, and that we were doing the slaves a favor. Slavery is now illegal, much in the same way that having a right to control someone elses life is unethical.

    My observations of how circumcision affects physicians are from being in the medical profession for nearly 30 years. I have seen that all of these things are commonplace. Of the cost of your delivery, the physician only gets a small percentage of that. A moderately busy OB/GYN over the course of a career with make an additional $300,000 to $700,000 from doing circumcisions. That is not chump change.

    Yes, it is still treating the child instrumentally if you deciding for the child against what he would choose for himself. You are using him to get something you want, not something he would want.

    • Suzy says:

      I am not hostile. I think you're wrong to suggest that my OB/GYN(s) are lazy, ignorant, or greedy, and I have quite ample evidence to the contrary. Again, let's pretend for the moment that I'm a pregnant woman trying to figure this thing out. I know that my doctors are none of the things you say. Now, why would I believe you about anything else? You're comparing circumcision, as an evil, to mass livelong enslavement and torture. Does that further your credibility? You say that the OB/GYN makes only a small percentage on the cost of delivery, but apparently would have to rake in quadruple the average cost of the circumcision (or else deliver four times the average number of babies in a year), in order to reach the figures you cite. I think your argument about treating the child instrumentally is a good one, but the problem is, parents who decide to circumcise may not be doing that (granted, perhaps in their own ignorance, but nevertheless true).

  • johann_galt says:

    S, above you mentioned that you are FOR liberty. Whose liberty? Your liberty to gang up on a defenseless baby and inflict your judgment on him (or her) just because you're the parent, and it's YOUR liberty?

    Before you act so presumptuously, I suggest you consider that ADHD and TS (Tourette syndrome) are now highly male-prevalent in the U.S. (where neonatal circumcision has become highly prevalent) – and were hardly known outside the Ashkenazi Jewish community before the Ashkenazi radical circumcision procedure became prevalent among other Jews and the American population (who adopted the procedure chiefly to prevent male infants from playing with their own genitalia – oh well, we can't permit an infant THAT "liberty" now can we?). Now, with circumcision prevalent in the U.S., so are ADHD and TS. Well, I guess you, S, have invented the new liberty – the liberty to be stressed and traumatized as a baby so we, as a society, can grow up to suffer these new, high incidences of ADHD and TS.

    • Suzy says:

      Johann, that's precisely it: we normally do grant parents the ability to decide about medical procedures for their children, thus violating the child's liberty interests in some way. The interesting question to me here is, when do we decide that the threshold of acceptable evidence has not been met, such that we will take away the parents' ability to make this choice? I think your arguments about ADHD and TS are almost completely specious on every level, to the point that it's not worth bothering about.

  • Fred Rhodes says:

    Suzy, in the past before we knew about the existance of microbes and their infectious and dissease causing qualities, men would choose to cut off their prepuces to hide the scent of their smelly discharges from infections, hiding one of the symptom, and the cause. This lack of knowledge became a ritual then religion, and now its routine. The choice was cut or die. We didn't know that these infections were being caused from bestiality. Now we have the choice of cut or education to avoid causing to be cut. All the benefits from cutting can be replaced with education on proper functions, hygiene, and use of the prepuce. Therefore, now it is benefitial only to your circumciser and a disadvantage for your children if you remane uneducated. Circumcisers have to ignor new knowledge because it would put their routine, ritual, and religion medical proceedure out of buisness. Immagine someone trying to convince you that you are worshipping a false god. You'd be pretty resistant, as well. Remember when the benefits of the medical procedure called a lobotomy were outlawed and replaced with theropy. It was a parental choise as well, like in the Kennedy's daughter, giving the parent just enough info to convince them it is a benefit with no other options.

  • johann_galt says:

    My, my, Suzy… This is really a hot-button issue for you, isn’t it? Are you a mohel wannabe, or is it already Nurse Suzy or Dr. Suzy? If you haven’t had a son to subject to the circumciser’s scalpel or other apparatus, I presume to suggest that you’ve already sexually disfigured at least 100 male babies, find the experience so invigorating that no facts or arguments will stand in your way of “doing” at least another 100, and are perhaps now laughing up your white sleeves at the modesty of my numbers. Quite the power-tripper, aren’t you…

    A casual warning: Dr. Josef Mengele, among other assassins of human dignity in history, may have outwitted formal justice, and the current indifference of public opinion regarding the genitalia of baby boys indicates that you will too. Justice, however, inevitably assumes many forms… and even formal, legal justice occasionally, eventually gets it right.

    I rest assured in the knowledge that my own son, for one, escaped your charming scalpel and clamps.

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/laissezfairesteps

    • Suzy says:

      Am I understanding you right…. you think I am a doctor who actually performs circumcisions? Because I am arguing–not that circumcision is good or desirable in any way, but–that parents should not be legally prevented from choosing it if they believe that medical reasons make it a good choice?
      My "charming scalpel"? Well, the world is full of people, every one unique, and here is more evidence.

  • Petite Poulet says:

    Suzy, you claim you are not hostile and then you get hostile. I am merely calling attention to you emotions, because that works in small children to get past the emotions and get to the underlying issues. I stick by my position: most OB/GYNs are ignorant when it comes to the foreskin and circumcision. Most of this is because they were not properly educated in medical school. Some of it is because they are paid to do circumcisions and not ask questions. Next, time you see your OB/GYN ask him/her to describe the anatomy, histology, and function of the uterus, then ask the same about the foreskin. If he/she is correct about the foreskin, he/she will be in a very, very small minority who knows.

    You also need to work on your math skills. If the average OB/GYN delivers 200 babies a year, 100 hundred will be boys. Where I come from nearly all will be circumcised. The average reimbursement for the physician for a circumcision is about $150 to $200. That is $15,000 to $20,000 per year. Over a 30 year career that's $450,000 to $600,000. There are some physicians who have higher delivery rates and collection rates and some who have lower. So, as I pointed out, it is not chump change.

  • MrBBQ says:

    Shhh… Don't reveal our glaring hypocrisy!

Authors

Affiliations