“The fact is that reduction of sensation is very valuable to many men. And I’m not saying to all men, but to many men it is,” states Dr. Sade, in an audio recording released by GotNews.com today. “The issue is not the degree of sensitivity. It’s not the presence or absence of sensitive tissue. It’s the degree of satisfaction… in people who are able to make the decisions for themselves,” Dr. Sade heard to say in the recording.
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.
The experience that I've had, I certainly end up on the receiving end of the bad complications. Over the last three to four years, we've had four or five children, they were neonatal circumcisions, one of whom very nearly died of sepsis, and the rest of them had significant damage to the tip of the penis.
Dozens of intactivists marched from the Capitol to the White House late afternoon in support of children’s rights to genital integrity. Groups of demonstrators came in from as far as the northwest and Canada, and included many families with young children. Demonstrators held banners and chanted slogans such as, “His Body, His Choice!” and “Intact Genitals are a Human Right!”
Intactivism—the movement to end circumcision—continues to win social acceptance worldwide, including in the Jewish state of Israel. Jews in the holy land are increasingly open to questioning circumcision, much more so than in the United States.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) held a debate on circumcision earlier today in Strasbourg, France in accordance with last year’s resolution recognizing circumcision as a violation of bodily integrity and calling for public discussion on the matter. Medical experts, religious leaders and activists were amongst those who gave testimony today.
As the only non-European invited to this meeting, Dr. Goldman said, “I look forward to contributing to the effort to raise awareness about circumcision in Europe in light of its physical, sexual, and psychological harm.”
On the eighth day of my son Kai's life, we had a ceremony across the street from our house, right by the Pacific ocean. We had our good friend playing guitar while we all sang in Hebrew. Rabbi Mivasair explained to everyone the meaning behind what we were doing in an eloquent and meaningful way.
A new study finds that circumcision does not prevent sexually transmitted infections, throwing into question commonly held beliefs about the connection between circumcision and STIs, which researchers say are largely based on extrapolations from studies performed on men in Africa.
New medical classification codes released by the World Health Organization (WHO) diagnoses foreskin adhesion in newborns as a medical condition, putting all newborns at risk of medically unnecessary circumcision.
A greater number of American, Canadian, Israeli, and Jews worldwide are beginning to question milah (the surgical circumcision) aspect of the bris. Is it wishful thinking to hope that Judaism in today's age moves to a symbolic interpretation of circumcision, as it has already done for other violent commandments from the Torah?
Goldman describes some of the harm of circumcision. "Studies show that circumcision is significantly painful, traumatic, and affects the brain. Some infants do not cry because they go into shock. After circumcision infants change behavior, and there are disruptions in mother-child bonding. Anesthetics, if used, do not eliminate circumcision pain." The effects of circumcision pain were not mentioned in the AAP report.
Goldman explains that advocates ignore the significant harm of circumcision. "Most circumcised men, including doctors and researchers, do not know what they are missing. Studies show that circumcision removes up to one-half of the erogenous tissue on the penile shaft. The foreskin protects the head of the penis, enhances sexual pleasure, and facilitates intercourse. Cutting it off removes several kinds of specialized nerves and results in thickening and progressive desensitization, particularly in older men." A survey showed that circumcised men were 4.5 times more likely to use an erectile dysfunction drug. He describes the psychological harm of circumcision in detail in his book.
Most of the official Humanistic Jewish organizations do not distinguish between bris shalom (welcoming ceremony without circumcision) and hospital circucmcision, but there is a growing tendency to oppose circumcision altogether in favor of the new peaceful welcoming ceremonies. Humanistic Rabbis do not perform ceremonies in conjunction with circumcision.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is set to issue a revised policy statement and guidelines on infant circumcision that could come out as early as this spring. The current policy guideline on infant circumcision does not recommend routine infant circumcision, and lays claim to the “potential health benefits” of the procedure.
Over 50 Rabbis, mohels and other Jewish leaders perform covenant ceremonies without surgical circumcision, and many more will do so upon request. These include Rabbis in the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and many other branches of Judaism.