Circumcision Debate: Cut the Hyperbole

Circumcision Debate: Cut the Hyperbole

What frustrates me about the circumcision debate is that both sides exaggerate their claims. Maybe this happens with most controversies, but I am particularly attuned to this one because I have been researching the history of circumcision in the United States. A recent article by Brian J. Morris and others in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings overstates the health benefits of circumcision and downplays the risks.[1] They argue that the public health benefits (i.e. reducing sexually transmitted diseases) are so great that circumcision should be mandatory. Mandatory?

Inflammatory statements such as this have been around for a while. In the nineteenth century, proponents alleged that circumcision prevented masturbation and syphilis.

Giovanni Battista Caracciolo – Baby. Wikimedia

Yes, you read that right. Physicians as well as parents believed that an uncircumcised boy would fuss unnecessarily with his penis, tugging on the annoying foreskin, ultimately leading to masturbation. In fact, some doctors looked to Jewish boys as exemplars of good morality; since Jews mandated infant circumcision, these boys, the theory went, never masturbated to excess. One doctor went so far as to say that Jewish boys only masturbated when they associated with uncircumcised boys, those “whose covered glans have naturally impelled them to the habit.” [2] Such a habit among Jews, he claimed, though not unheard of, was exceedingly rare. Ya, right.

New born baby. Wikimedia

With syphilis too, Jewish men stood out. Many circumcision advocates, Jews and non-Jews alike, held that Jewish men had a remarkable immunity to the sexually transmitted disease. Not all agreed, however, as some physicians had actually treated circumcised Jewish patients for syphilis. Yet Jews continued to be praised for what was seen as their hygienic practices. One nineteenth-century doctor who performed scores of circumcisions on adult men as a way to cure genital herpes suggested that this problem could be alleviated if we would “follow in the footsteps of Moses and circumcise all male children.”[3]

Despite competing claims about circumcision’s purported benefits, the health assertions persisted, shifting from a focus on masturbation and syphilis to urinary tract infections, phimosis (a restricted foreskin), cancer, and AIDS. Today it’s easy to dismiss the threat of masturbation as a reason to remove an infant’s healthy foreskin, and even penile cancer is quite rare, but it’s harder to argue against stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS. Everyone wants to put an end to this disease, but I have to wonder if permanently altering a baby’s genitals is a likely way, or even a sensible way, to do that.

Morris is a well-known circumcision advocate, and in this article he suggests that circumcision is so beneficial that parents should consider it akin to vaccination. From his perspective, circumcision keeps the individual boy from getting urinary tract infections and phimosis as a child, and then later when he becomes sexually active his circumcision keeps him from becoming a public health risk. Hence, Morris argues, it’s like a vaccine in that it prevents future illness.

Treating circumcision as a vaccine sets us on a dangerous path. If men think that their circumcisions alone will protect them from sexually transmitted diseases, they are sorely mistaken. Circumcision may decrease the risk of some diseases (though even that is contested), but having had the procedure does not work like a vaccine—it does not confer resistance or immunity—and men still need to use condoms to protect against STIs and HIV/AIDS.

Morris says that those parents who refuse circumcision are analogous to parents who refuse vaccination for their children. While it might be true that both groups of parents subscribe to a less interventionist medical model, the two decisions are very different, and it’s inflammatory to link them. There are other ways to avoid sexually transmitted diseases–condoms, for example. Vaccines, by contrast, are our only way to prevent the spread of devastating childhood diseases like measles, mumps, rubella, and polio.

Circumcision kit for pain-less cut. Wikimedia

By coupling circumcision with vaccination, these researchers and advocates subtly affect our understanding of the procedure, suggesting we should lump it in with the other shots and tests that newborns routinely receive. And yet, circumcision is more than that. This sort of hyperbolic advocacy helps create a sense that it is normal, not a surgical intervention with ambiguous effects, whether beneficial or harmful. Such language clouds the vision of new parents when they face a critical decision. The words of Morris, et. al., suggest it’s not much of a decision at all–it’s a no brainer. Yet the brain is an organ that parents actually do need to keep sharp and use here.

In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that parents should be presented with honest and straightforward information about the pros and cons of circumcision. We might ask first why parents are permitted to make this decision altogether, a choice that permanently changes a child’s body and removes healthy foreskin. But if we collectively agree that for certain reasons we should allow it, then the reasons must be really good ones.


Yet how, then, can parents make an informed decision when both sides overstate their claims? Those who advocate circumcision inflate the benefits and dismiss the risks; and those who oppose circumcision amplify the risks and minimize the benefits. For example, “intactivists” raise the issue of pain, physically at the time of the surgery and emotionally for years beyond. Certainly babies feel pain, but are they permanently, psychically scarred for life, as some intactivists suggest? That would be difficult to prove. Similarly, sensitive nerve endings are destroyed with circumcision, and so it’s likely that sexual sensitivity would be diminished, but how much that weakens sexual pleasure is hard to ascertain, since circumcised infants grow up to be men with no pre-circumcision sexual experience with which to compare their current sensation. And I’m sure many of us know circumcised men who think the sex they are having is just fine. Better than fine, even.

To me, arguments that are less prone to hyperbole are the most compelling. And in this debate I stick to what is undisputed: opting for circumcision is a decision to permanently change someone else’s body. That is a big responsibility. If we are committed to allowing parents this choice, then I would like to see them presented with the most basic and clearly stated information: what exactly happens during a circumcision? What is the foreskin for? What is being cut away? How is it done? How long does it typically take? How long does it take to heal? What does a circumcised and uncircumcised penis look like at infancy and in adulthood? Many new parents do not know even these fundamental facts. I know I didn’t.

How it works. Wikimedia

The circumcision decision should not be made lightly, and parents should not feel pressured by exaggerated claims of benefits or risks. We owe our baby boys that much.


[1] Brian J. Morris, Stefan A. Bailis, Thomas E. Wiswell. “Circumcision Rates in the United States: Rising or Falling? What Effect Might the New Affirmative Pediatric Policy Statement Have?” Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 2014. DOI:10.1016/j.mayocp.2014.01.001

[2] M. J. Moses, “The Value of Circumcision as a Hygienic and Therapeutic Measure,” New York Medical Journal 14:4 (November 1871), 368-374

[3] A.U. Williams, “Circumcision,” Medical Standard 6 (1889), 138-39

Featured image caption: A baby smiling and eating in a baby chair. Wikimedia

Elizabeth Reis is a professor of gender and bioethics at the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York. She is the author of Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex, which was recently published in a 2nd edition, and Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England. She is also the editor of American Sexual Histories: A Social and Cultural History Reader.

34 thoughts on “Circumcision Debate: Cut the Hyperbole

    • Author gravatar

      Funny how the Jews were considered exemplary for circumcision when they were othewise marginalized.

    • Author gravatar

      Such a thoughtful contribution to the hyperbolic circumcision debate. This is a part of the current culture of “high-stakes” parenting where various advocates argue that each “choice”–natural vs. medically-assisted birth, breastfeeding vs. formula, etc.–is really no choice at all because the stakes are so high and the risk catastrophic but nebulous (“permanently, psychically scarred for life,” for example).

    • Author gravatar

      Whenever I tell my family that my son is welcome to choose to get a circumcision when he is old enough to make his own choice they look at me like I have three heads, or say that I should have done it when he was too young to feel pain. This kind of medical misinformation, that babies cannot feel the pain of their body being permanently changed, boggles my mind.

    • Author gravatar

      Someone should attach screen shots of Brian Morris’ Twitter to all his papers. I don’t understand why he would be published at all: he is absolutely deranged & not at all scientific. When I first read his tweets, I thought it must be a mock account.

    • Author gravatar

      Most of the intactivist claims I’ve seen are not the ones you stated. The claim I hear most often is EQUALITY. Infants are infants. Genitalia is Genitalia. If it is wrong to mutilate an infants genitalia. It is wrong to mutilate an infants genitalia regardless of if the genitalia is an inny or an outy. While the UN and other international organizations, and most western countries have banned mutilating the genitalia of half of infants, we don’t have laws protecting the other half of infants.

      The same benefits are claimed for all infant genital mutilations. Is there good rational for only protecting half of infants from having their genitals mutilated?

    • Author gravatar

      The author of this post should have included the stats regarding circumcision and risk of contracting HIV via vaginal intercourse. The risk is dramatically lower for circumcised men, and yes, a man who didn’t get HIV from his last partner can’t give it to the next one.

      • Author gravatar

        Depends what study you’re reading buddy. The only study that makes such a claim is the triple-branched African trial – a study known to have been flawed and skewed. Most studies outside Africa questioning the relationship between circumcision status and HIV contraction all some to one major conclusion – there is not correlation between circumcision status and HIV contraction. One of the largest studies to confirm that was conducted by the US Navy. If you notice articles and studies that debunk certain claims regarding circumcision are never circulated in maknatre news outlets..and you have to wonder why.

      • Author gravatar

        Yeah, well that has worked so well for the American male population. We have 3 to 5 times the rate of HIV infections as men in countries where circumcision is not practiced and no one is following our lead! The key to avoiding HIV is to 1. Use a condom (important whether you have a foreskin or not) 2. Be monogamous 3. Know your status and your partner’s status, everybody get tested regularly.

      • Author gravatar

        This is a claim only the Auvert-Study is claiming. 60% reduce.

        But as well as Brian Morris, Bertrand Auvert is member of the Gilgal-Society. A “publisher” who is also publishing Erotica of circumcising boys.

        THIS is the background and the reasoning Brian Morris and Bertrand Auvert have for establishing their “studies”.

        The last one of Brian Morris by the way is interesting. It is a Meta-Meta-Study. He took his own Meta-Studies and “restudied” them to make his vaccination claim.

        This is not anywhere near scientific research.

    • Author gravatar

      I applaud this call for full information about the risks and potential benefits of infant circumcision. One risk that is hardly ever included in the conversation is that circumcising an infant on his first or second day of life can seriously disrupt his ability to breastfeed for a day or so, precisely when he needs to be learning how to nurse and the mother needs his help to establish her milk production. In this respect at least, the Jewish practice of waiting until day 8 to circumcise a newborn is less risky, because by that point, many babies have gotten the hang of nursing and the mother’s milk production is usually in full swing.

    • Author gravatar

      For reference, this study clearly demonstrates what is sensitivity is removed during a circumcision. Nothing exaggerated here. Circumcision removes the male g-spot.

      The most sensitive part of the circumcised penis is the circumcision scar line on the underside of the penis.

      The head/tip of the circumcised penis is less sensitive to fine touch than the head/tip of the uncircumcised penis.

      The uncircumcised penis contains 4 areas more sensitive than ANY area on a circumcised penis.

      The most sensitive part of the uncircumcised penis is the line of skin where inner foreskin and outer foreskin meet. When erect, this area is on the shaft of the penis.

      ALL circumcised males have these areas removed during the circumcision surgery

      (Study details:

      Common Penile Issues

      Premature Ejaculation – Feeling more does NOT result in reaching ejaculation faster.
      Circumcised men are 5 times more likely to experience premature ejaculation. (

      Erectile Dysfunction – Circumcised men are 4.5 times more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) than uncircumcised men. (

    • Author gravatar

      It might be helpful also for people to see the formal response to the AAP 2012 statement published by the AAP themselves. Most notably, the AAP statement described as using a cultural bias and that they cherry-picked studies.

    • Author gravatar

      A prime American combination.

      Kellogg, circumcision, corn flakes, and chastity. Seventh Day Adventists.

    • Author gravatar

      I spent a little time on this once, when the AIDS/circumcision argument was making inroads.

      The tendency of some evangelical Christians and secular Jews to argue that the various prohibitions in the Torah — notably pork and shellfish — were proto-hygenic seems relevant. Of course, that requires wrenching them out of context, as liminal creatures which fitted uncomfortably into categories, Many of the associated rules are clearly taboos of the same sort. However, circumcision can be seen in the same rationalizing light.

      I don’t know if secular circumcision developed separately in the UK, but there was certainly transatlantic communication. The practice used to be a class marker, very visible as a distinguishing mark in the showers, during WW2. The officers were “Roundheads” but the enlisted men were “Cavaliers”. Shortly thereafter, the practice waned rapidly because, like spa medicine, it was not accepted as medically justified by the NHS.

      The US and Australia seem to be the only places where non-religious circumcision remains commonplace.

      I was somewhat taken aback, during the AIDS discussion, to see the extent to which the argument in favour was propounded almost exclusively by evangelicals and secular Jews. It was, of course, evangelicals who dominated official research and policy when the Bush administration separated its AIDS work in Africa from the international effort. ABC was the order of the day, and not a lot of C. Evangelicals such as (now-Sen.) Tom Coburn and his colleagues supposedly in charge of US domestic AIDS policy [PACHA] were opposed to the emphasis on condoms. US work on the ground in Africa was handed to evangelical groups, which produced dubious reports, focused on homosexuality even though that was not the main route of transmission, and promoted circumcision.

      The alleged efficacy of circumcision against HIV was founded on smegma, but I wondered about the desensitization of the glans penis. I didn’t look hard enough to spot that as a factor.

    • Author gravatar

      An infant at birth is of the guardianship of its parents, so obviously it would be wise to let the parents decide on whether they want their baby circumcised. As with any medical procedure that an infant would need to get the parents choose, and who are we to try to impose our ideals in an arena that is non of our business.

      I am a nurse and the hospitals do not force anybody to get their child circumcised, they ask the parents and even give them a chance to choose, most of the time if you go to a facility worth it’s salt the decision is already been attained from the parent as soon as they find out the sex of the child.

      I am also a Christian and the bible does not impose circumcision on anybody. There is actual text in the bible saying the non-Jews are not mandated to be circumcised, it is a cultural and religious practice of the Jewish people, and most non-Jew parents do it because it does have medical benefits, regardless of how you cut it (pun intended), there are proven medical benefits. The anatomy of an uncircumcised penis predisposes for bacterial growth. And shame on anybody to make a child wait past infancy to get circumcised and punish a developed neurological system with that pain.

      • Author gravatar

        Most of the health claims regarding circumcision have been debunked. If circumcision was capable of combating all of the ailments it is said to combat, regions with low circumcision rates would be rampant with phallic disorders and sexually transmitted diseases. The truth is they’re not , in fact these regions typically do better than the United States, the developed country with the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV contraction. The foreskin actually secretes enzymes that can compare viral and bacterial infections as well as fungi and that secret isn’t widely known – besides female genitalia several times more susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections yet we do not advise to clip certain parts do we ? As for waiting on circumcision, in Finlad only 1 in every 17,000 male requires a circumcision later in life – are we really going to excise a sensitive portion of penile skin for those odds ? More children die due to circumcision in the United States (1 in 11,000). As for their nervous system, it’s more highly developed than ours. They have more neural connections and considering each sensation is so new to them their sensory outputs are much more sensitive than ours. Infants feel pain to a greater degree than adults. You may state memory as a factor but lack of memory does not make it anymore ethical. Some forms of FGM are conducted infancy, some victims of rape or assault do not also remember their experience..does that alleviate their suffering ? Absolutely not. Regardless if a surgery must occur it must occur pain and memory are not a factor otherwise you’d support tonsillectomies and appendectomies in infancy as well as the removal of breast buds in infant females to prevent breast cancer. Your post is full of logical fallacies and for a nurse I really don’t trust your judgement at all

        • Author gravatar

          Lol so because I disagree with you on oponions somehow my judgement is not to be trusted. Well there arent any studies I have found in any medical journals that can acertain whether a 2 day old infant is impacted long term from circumcision pain, if you jave that medical journal link please foward it to me. And what my judgment is based on is established medical practice and knowledge, if you have some new knowledge about the issue let time be the judge but the last time I checked in nursing school all the medical textbooks agree with my fallaciuos logic.

          Secondly what is even more fallacious are the analogies you posed to justify your point of view, comparing it to rape victims, infant mastectomy and vaginal mutilation?! Regardless the female genitalia is created the way it is and the chemiclas and enzymes produced are in accordance with their anatomy. Once again this discovery of male penis secreting enzymes illudes me so please send me a link to the medical journals that have proven this account.

          Lastly my point is to let the parents choose, the world is already imposing laws and regulations that disturb the privacy of a family unit in some attempt to undermine the autonomy of parenting ,we dont need this medical fascist ideology you are spewing from yout keypad adding to the load.

          I dont remember being circumcised but I’m glad I was.. I dont wake up on cold sweats remembering that deranged doctor who would be so sinister as to act to prevent me and my spouse from being more susceptible to infections. And STDs and AIDS are not what would be the significant issue or focus it is the vaginal environment being increasingly prone to penile bacteria thats the issue. At least thats what the medical world understands.

        • Author gravatar

          “Well there arent any studies I have found in any medical journals that can acertain whether a 2 day old infant is impacted long term from circumcision pain, if you jave that medical journal link please foward it to me. ”
          Is The Lancet good enough for you? Taddio et al (Lancet. 1997;349:599-603) found circumcised babies react differently to the pain of vaccination, months later.

      • Author gravatar

        No I disagree with your opinion because they’re at odds with the global medical establishment. The AAP may back your claims, but here’s just a few medical establishments that completely oppose your belief
        The Netherlands Society of General Practitioners,
        The Netherlands Society of Youth Healthcare Physicians,
        The Netherlands Association of Paediatric Surgeons,
        The Netherlands Association of Plastic Surgeons,
        The Netherlands Association for Paediatric Medicine,
        The Netherlands Urology Association, and
        The Netherlands Surgeons’ Association.
        College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia
        Swedish Pediatric Society
        Australian Federation of Aids organizations
        German Association of Child and Youth Doctors
        German Association of Child and Youth Doctors
        Royal College of Surgeons of England
        British Medical Association
        Australian Medical Association
        Australian College of Paediatrics
        Royal Australasian College of Physicians
        Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
        The Norwegian Council of Medical Ethics
        Norwegian Children’s Ombudsman
        Denmark National Council for Children
        Norwegian Medical Association,
        Norwegian Nurses Organization,
        Norwegian Ombudsman for Children,
        Let’s not also forget the AAP’s statement defending circumcision practices was heavily criticized by 38 representatives from 17 different countries claiming “their conclusion was culturally biased and at odds with the rest of the globe.”
        The information you have been granted was delivered by an establishment that profits from the procedure. Medical opinions elsewhere are actively opposed to circumcision, as you can see by the list above. As far as HIV goes the African trials have been heavily criticized and their methodology has been exposed to be flawed . Not only do we have that but have a mountain of research based on the very question ‘Is there a correlation between circumcision status and HIV contraction’ from regions throughout the world. Guess their conclusion.THERE IS NO CORRELATION BETWEEN CIRCUMCISION STATUS AND HIV CONTRACTION ! The studies instead found behavior to be the sole contributing factor, not the presence or lack of presence of the male foreskin. This link provides links to a cohort of studies suggesting that exact conclusion . The CDC/AAP also go on to state the usual error of positively correlating circumcision with the decreased chances of acquiring HPV (false) and a decreased chance to develop penile cancer (false) . You claim to be alluded by the idea of male sex organs secreting enzymes but again realize you were educated by an establishment that profits from the procedure, and in a region where 80% of males are foreskin-less there for knowledge of the functions of foreskin is limited. This link contains an overview of the functions of the foreskin as well as links to the studies observing the abilities of the male foreskin . There are even studies that have detected estrogen receptors, a possible aid in pair bonding .As for the comparison of vaginal mutilation, I suggest reading this article by Dr. Brian D. Earp highlighting that the two procedures (circumcision and FGM) are in fact comparable . So yes, your opinion doesn’t hold up. It’s great that you are happy in your circumcised state but that’s not what millions of men globally feel, and it is the reason why this movement against circumcision is gaining some substantial traction – because they men are pissed. You’re upset of the government forcing us to raise children a certain way but don’t you think personal freedoms matter more when it comes to the appearance of your genitals ? How can you talk about freedom when we don’t even give infant males the freedom to retain their entire genitalia. Cognitive dissonance is the word to describe your statement. I’m not surprised an American nurse has such poor opinions though, I’ve been around enough doctors and nurses (my mother was a nurse) to know you are not the final authority on many medical subjects, particularly in this country. The only thing that’ll keep your free from infection and disease is safe sex and education. I don’t care how circumcised you are, the moment you have sex with someone with an STD or bacterial infection and you’re not protected, you are just as likely to get an infection as a man with foreskin. Here’s a tip for next time – understand 70% of men globally are not circumcised..then I want you to look into the STI/HIV/Penile cancer rates of these regions (Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand etc) and then compare them to the rates within the United States. You’ll be very surprised and shocked and realize clipping foreskin off hasn’t impacted any society in terms of its health. Enjoy the links provided…

        • Author gravatar

          The first link is in regards to HIV which is not something I said was impacted by circumcision or the lack there of, so scratch that link.

          The second link was the same thing, not a point of debate and it’s not from a peer reviewed journal so I don’t take the findings seriously. I never said there was any significant impact between foreskin and HIV transmission.

          Here is a quote from the conclusions of the third link posted: “MC is not associated with the incidence and clearance of genital HPV detection, except for certain HPV types. The use of a single combined sample from the penis and scrotum for HPV DNA detection likely limited our ability to identify a true effect of MC at the distal penis.” So that speaks for itself.

          The fourth link is about the increased risk of penile cancer, I don’t think I ever concluded that finding, but thanks for offering the article, it was a great read, here is an interesting quote from the article; “However, phimosis, or a non-retractile foreskin, is a risk factor in adult males who are sexually active, because a non-retractile foreskin is more difficult to clean. There are many non-traumatic, non-distructive methods for conservative effective treatment of phimosis available to the male with phimosi”

          The fifth link is from a non peer reviewed medical source, almost like a wikipedia source, but I’m sorry I can’t take that article seriously because it’s not a medical journal, and most of the claims are biased, because if you go to the history of the revisions of this wikipedia type site, you see that people like “germanintactivist” are the contributors. No serious medical scholar takes such articles seriously so please save that for someone else.

          The sixth link has nothing to do with anything we are debating, it speaks of estrogen and its expression in the male penile tract, not foreskin, at this point I’m starting to conclude you didn’t read any of these articles. Regardless this one was interesting, but I fail to see its relevance to our discussion, please enlighten my dull mind.

          The seventh link has to do with hypospadias, and since this study was done with a group of patient’s that fall outside the normal range , because last time I checked hypospadias is not the norm, so how can you make any conclusions when the target group of this article are those with a congenital condition. So this one falls flat.

          The last article is someone that shares your ideologies opinion on a blog, and NOT a peer reviewed medical journal, so it has no relevance to me. It could be all conjecture for all I know, that is why serious researchers are peer reviewed not blogs. So that one you can keep.

          In conclusion, your failed to answer any of my questions from the previous post, regarding the impact of the pain of circumcision on a infant long term, which by the way might be impossible to measure. And secondly the wiki link you gave me to answer the secretions of enzymes was not from a reliable source, nobody can practice medicine based on wiki links, I hope you know that. The other articles were interesting but I never made the conclusion linking circumcision or lack there of with HIV or cancer, and from what you have sent me, those links either show no or a small variation, which is expected. Ultimately you failed to provide any answers to back up your ideology, at best you are biased and cannot approach this issue objectively.

        • Author gravatar

          Um,…The links I provided were rooted from peer reviewed studies. If you took a look at the sources in each link I provided you’d have seen that especially in the Wikipedia like article link where I specifically said focus on the article sources not the article itself, the same goes for the HIV studies where all you had to do was I out each article in Google and you’d then find yourself the original peer reviewed studies. As for Dr. Brian D Earp it’s not a blog entry it’s from the University of Oxford and his claims also happen to be sourced. You’re ignoring the sources to defend your claim…are you going to tell me listing all of these organizations against circumcision is hogwash and that Americans are the ones who have it right even though were more impacted by the issues we believe circumcision to alleviate. You already have your opinion set so you’re not going to budge. So back to each link I provided and them actually look into the research sources or do I have to do that for you? Seriously , return to each link and look at the references table and then search for each study to understand these are peer reviewed and debunk these outrageous claims of circumcision being beneficiary. You seem like someone who easily accepted circumcision as beneficial but you have a hard time thinking otherwise. Tell me how circumcision has benefitted American society compared to regions that don’t practice circumcision and are doing significantly better than us in terms of their reproductive health.

      • Author gravatar

        “An infant at birth is of the guardianship of its parents, so obviously it would be wise to let the parents decide on whether they want their baby circumcised.”
        You didn’t specify the sex of the baby, so does that apply to girls too? If not, why not?
        Female “circumcision” – just removal of the clitoral prepuce (hood), a close analogue of the male prepuce (foreskin) – was covered by Blue Cross Blue Shield until 1977 and legal until 1996, and facilitated from 1959 by a device with a shield to protect the clitoris itself. (NSFW).

        “The anatomy of an uncircumcised penis predisposes for bacterial growth.” Any more than the corresponding female parts?

        “the hospitals do not force anybody to get their child circumcised,” Perhaps not force, but sometimes nagging and asking again and again: htttp://

      • Author gravatar

        ^^ As with any medical procedure that an infant would need to get – the parents choose ^^

        Any medical intervention can be ethically forced upon a child only if waiting for their informed input and consent would lead to harm and when less destructive options are exhausted. Circumcision of childen fails this test decidedly.

        And infant circumcision is NOT a medical procedure when there is no diagnosis of defect or disease, nor any record of less-destructuve remedies tried.

        Circumcision alters sex dramatically.

    • […] we should really cut in the circumcision debate? The […]

    • Author gravatar

      Circumcised or intact/whole/normal, you can’t un-circumcise a penis. I come from the UK, it’s very rare to circumcise here. Circumcising infants and children is abuse, it does matter what happens to babies around the time if birth (see This has got to stop, it’s wrong to cut an infant’s genitals period.

    • Author gravatar

      Men having to justify their right to an entire sex organ, in 2014, strange isn’t it? Still trying to figure out who owns your penis in 2014, incredible!

    • Author gravatar

      The fundamental question that this article begs is this: “who is a credible authority that parents may rely upon when they are pressured by the for-profit medical establishment to amputate healthy erogenous tissue from their minor child?”

      This is an important question because much of what passes for authoritative advice today is terribly compromised by serious, yet hidden, conflicts of interest. Some of these conflicts are financial. Some are cultural. Some are political. And some conflicts are much darker.

      The so-called “study” released by Brian J. Morris, et al, is a prime example of the darkest and most horrifying type.

      All three authors of this rehash of thoroughly disproven claims for the benefits of circumcision are members of the Gilgal Society. The Gilgal Society was founded by Vernon Quaintance, a man currently awaiting trial for child pornography and child molestation:

      Gilgal Society members publicly advocate for circumcision using unscientific studies and aggressive public relations, while privately circulating videos and erotic stories of minor children being circumcised.

      Maybe another question that this story’s author should have asked is this: “what impact on the credibility of a circumcision advocate should result from their membership in a group that celebrates erotic and sexually explicit fantasies centered on the intentional destruction of the sexual function of minor children?”

      A sick man who gets an erection at the idea of cutting the genitals of a child may not be wrong in his opinions about everything. But would you trust him to give you good advice about circumcision?

      Something to think about.

    • Author gravatar

      I strongly disagree with your premise: “If we are committed to allowing parents this choice…” I believe that excising healthy, functional tissue from a non-consenting person should only be performed in cases of urgent medical necessity. Parents should not be able to give proxy consent for a procedure whose potential benefits can be achieved by less invasive and more effective means (proper hygiene, condoms, etc.). The owner of the prepuce should weigh any purported benefits against the risks, and more importantly, the loss of erogenous function. If female infants cannot have a small piece of their genitalia cut for cultural or cosmetic reasons, why are male infants in the US not similarly protected? The 1997 FGC statute is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment (Equal Protection clause). My body belongs to me!

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      The forced body modification of children, including forced circumcision of healthy boys, is a human rights violation and a violation of medical ethics. One can claim there are potential preventive benefits to removing any body part, but only the owner of the body should make that decision when he or she is of an age to understand the consequences. Surgery that amputates human tissue should always be a last option when all other options are exhausted. Unfortunately, one cannot be un-circumcised. Circumcision by definition is mutilation. I wish I were un-circumcised. I wish my body were left alone as nature intended. I endured traumatic corrective surgery at age 5 and other complications due to forced removal of my normal protective foreskin. I have seen a video of non-therapeutic infant circumcision surgery, and I conclude that it is barbaric, un-American, and criminal battery. My son is whole and intact as nature intended. The more you know about circumcision, the more you are against it. When we know better, we do better.

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      Circumcision alters sex dramatically. The only person with the ethical standing to request amputations of healthy normal body parts is the rational informed patient. Proxy/parental consent is only valid when waiting for the patient’s input would lead to harm and when less destructive options are exhausted.

      Circumcision of children fails this test decidedly. Health care workers have a duty to the patient and that would entail refusing to scrub in when the ethical code is violated.

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      “And I’m sure many of us know circumcised men who think the sex they are having is just fine. Better than fine, even.”
      By “better than fine” do you mean all the circumcised men who say they “couldn’t stand being any more sensitive”? (Intact men seldom make this complaint.) Here are 40 men who imply that circumcision has pushed them to the brink of premature ejaculation.

      They also seem to think ejaculation and orgasm are the be-all and end-all of sexual relations, ignoring everything that comes before. (This is consistent with circumcision having reduced the quality of their sensory perception and feedback, so they must concentrate on getting enough stimulation to “reach orgasm” as they often put it.

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      The typical RIC performed in the USA today is still done without effective pain reduction. This should be illegal.
      There are no studies of the possible correlations between circ status and sexual dysfunction. Until such studies are performed, and show that circumcision has no adverse effects on adult sexual function, RIC should cease immediately.
      There is no evidence from Europe or Japan that being intact leads to more STDs or worse urological outcomes. The UK (New Zealand) gave up RIC in the 1950s (1970s). RIC was done to at least 90% of Australian boys in the 1950s and 60s, and about 10% nowadays. Where is the evidence that urological health in those countries has gradually declined?

      Brian Morris, his coauthors, and the AAP Task Force, refuse to look the above in the face, and reach the sensible conclusion that the AAP reached 40 years ago: RIC does not advance health outcomes. Reaching this conclusion means that a large and growing body of studies, most published in the USA by American authors, is biased and confused. So be it.

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      An ignorant doctor browbeat my mother into having the best part of my penis cut off. At puberty I discovered self-pleasuring was not the smooth action that I saw in the intact boys, and when I started having intercourse, I always needed artificial lubricant or she protested. At 60 years of age, orgasm ceased for me. As I may live for another twenty-five years without sex, old age will be even less a thing to look forward to. My son is intact, and after 30 years has not suffered the troubles that the pro-cutters claim. One thing that baby-care books do not mention, even the ones which say not to circumcise, is the loss of adult sexual function. It is time that the nasty procedure dies out everywhere. After all, very few men who were left intact as children will ever want or need to have his foreskin cut off.

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