The circumcision rate for American male newborns has declined in recent years to around 50% today. This is due in part to the intactivist (intact + activist) movement, made up of individuals and organizations calling for doctors to abandon what the intactivists see as an unethical procedure. “American Circumcision” gives an inside view of this diverse movement.
“I think viewers will be surprised by the caliber of people who are active in the movement,” says filmmaker Brendon Marotta. “There are some very serious, very thoughtful individuals who are looking at this issue from medical, legal, ethical and religious viewpoints.”
Conte accomplished many things during his life. First and foremost, he was the lead organizer of Bay Area Intactivists. Conte was instrumental in the 2011 San Francisco MGM Bill initiative to extend the female genital mutilation law to protect children of all sexes. He also spurred me on to become more active and start the NYC Intactivists group. Conte and I kept in touch frequently and shared strategies and had ongoing projects together at the time of his death.
“While there may be a benefit for some boys in high risk populations and the procedure could be considered as a treatment or to reduce disease, in most cases, the benefits of circumcision do not outweigh the risks,” says Dr. Thierry Lacaze, chair of the CPS Fetus and Newborn Committee.
“That’s my favorite sign because I did not consent to male genital mutilation,” says Frank McGinness, the man who appears on the right side of the photo holding a sign. “I was circumcised at 4 or 5 years old. If someone chooses it for themselves, I don’t have a problem with that. But I had no choice and a very important part of my genitals was taken from me without my consent.”
Last Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its proposed guidelines on male circumcision for public comment. The new federal guidelines would recommend male circumcision as a healthy choice that doctors should offer for parents to make for their sons and for teenagers and adults to consider.
The movement to welcome newborn Jewish boys into Jewish life without the surgery of circumcision has reached a milestone—over 200 officiants are now available to perform the peaceful welcoming ceremony.
Lisa Braver Moss and Rebecca Wald, both known for their writings questioning Jewish circumcision, have launched a 45-day Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the completion of a book to serve Jewish families who decide not to circumcise. They are hoping to raise $8,200 to complete the project with their campaign, which begins today.