It happens yet again.
This morning a friend was telling me that one of her acquaintances causally mentioned to her that their 9 year old son is finally recovering from his circumcision - an amputative surgery inflicted upon him this past summer.
Why was it done?
A right of passage into manhood.
No, not in some far off land. Right here in North America.
Well, we do prohibit genital cutting on our daughters at any age...but we do nothing to protect our sons from the willy-nilly cutting off of their body parts.
Too often people believe there are no risks associated with the surgical amputation of the prepuce organ.
There are many risks. And every time a baby dies or seizures or lapses into coma or has a heart attach, or a boy ends up in the hospital with 1/2 his penis gone, or an infant suffers from uncontrolled hemorrhaging, or a newborn refuses to breastfeed after being cut -- we see these consequences of circumcision and just how grave and how frequent they are. And these are only the outwardly visible physical impact of genital cutting. It does not even touch on the mental, emotional, social consequences of such mutilation.
This boy's story (below) is horrifying to me. I can almost feel his terror and pain as he wildly tries all he can to escape his attackers. The doctor stated they had to hold him 'like a wild dog'... let me ask you - if someone was attempting to cut off the most sensitive part of your clitoris/penis, would you do all YOU could to escape??
Children and newborn babies do the same.
A baby is just much easier to strap down and contain while he is being cut apart than a muscular little 4-year-old is. So while we don't worry much about an infant's fight to escape the knife, we typically knock out an older child (with general anesthesia). This boy (and those before him) were still fighting with their full sensation - all 70,000+ nerves ablaze.
For statistics on side effects (including death) due to circumcision see:
Increased Dangers of Circumcision Report (pdf) at DoctorsOpposingCircumcision.org
A note before you read this article:
Circumcision is very rare in virtually every nation of the world except the United States (where it currently sits right at 49.5%). This includes New Zealand. However, due to the efforts of a few to 'circumcise the world' there are parents in some otherwise exclusively intact countries who think they "must" circumcise their sons. They are buying into the lies told that circumcision will protect their sons from contracting HIV when they become sexually active. Doctors profit by selling foreskins online to research firms or cosmetic corporations. It is a sad state of affairs what we are attempting to do... and what happens to the babies, boys (and men) on the other end of the scalpel.
Story below printed in The New Zealand Herald on 12/8/09
A doctor who botched the circumcision of a wriggling four-year-old, severing an artery in the boy's penis, may face further disciplinary action, after a report by the Health and Disability Commissioner was released today.
The botched operation, which saw the boy require emergency hospitalization, was performed at an unnamed medical center in January by a general practitioner, assisted by a doctor unqualified to practice in New Zealand and the doctor's wife.
The commissioner's report recommended the doctor in charge of the operation review which patients he performed operations on - "giving particular consideration whether he should undertake circumcisions in boys aged older than six months".
"This case illustrates what can happen when a doctor is unfamiliar with, or chooses not to follow, recommended guidelines for a surgical procedure. It also highlights why patients (or their parents) need to be provided with adequate information so they can make an informed choice and give their informed consent."
The case was referred to the commissioners' director of proceedings, to decide whether action should be taken. Copies of the report were also forwarded to the New Zealand Medical Council, which certifies doctors to practice, and the Ministry of Health.
On arriving at the medical center, the parents and the young patient were directed to the waiting room, with the doctor busy performing a circumcision on another patient, a 14-year-old boy. The family were concerned to hear the screams of the older boy.
The clinic's manager, and wife of the operating doctor, told them, although the 14-year-old had been given the maximum dose of morphine, he was "too sensitive and could not handle the pain", the report said.
The boy's mother told the commissioner the child was taken into the operating room, was given an injection, then cut into seconds later, before the painkiller had time to take effect. Seeing her son in pain caused the mother to start crying, at which point she was ordered out of the room by the doctor, apparently for passing her anxiety onto the child and disturbing him.
About 10 minutes later, the boy's father was also ejected from the room. "We could hear our son crying for help and begging us not to leave him there by himself. He kept asking them to let us in but they wouldn't listen," she said.
After about an hour, the boy's father walked in to the operating room to see the doctor apparently talking to another doctor on the phone about how he didn't know what was going on.
He saw the clinic manager and the unlicensed doctor were holding the boy "as if they were holding a wild animal", the report said.
About an hour-and-a-half after the boy went into the operating room, the doctors called an ambulance, due to uncontrollable bleeding. The doctor, however, said the boy was subdued and calm, while the father complained of dizzy spells and became pale, and was asked to leave the room, lest he collapse during the operation.
He did admit the child became "extremely difficult to handle" and, due to the strength of the four-year-old's pelvic muscles, enlisted the aid of two people to hold him still. "It's really difficult because the pelvic muscles are tough and the forearm muscles are not that strong," the doctor said.
To protect you intact son from unnecessary genital cutting, see the links on this page.
For more on circumcision, pain and related side effects see:
ALL pain studies conducted on circumcision in the US and Canada have come to an early end as a result of infant trauma.
The Brain Altered by Circumcision Study
Babies Remember Circumcision Pain Study
Infant Pain Impacts Adult Sensitivity
Boys cut at birth move their bodies differently
Circumcision: How Much Does it Hurt?
A plastibell circumcision (the type used in Patti Ramos' photo essay on circumcision) - the company likes to claim genital cutting does not hurt as much when plastic clamps are used rather than metal clamps
Reports from mothers who observed son's circumcision
Reports from a father who observed his son's circumcision: Stop MGM and Will You Make the Cut?
Men on this site tell their stories of how circumcision impacted them.
Babies "voice their opinion" [video clip of common newborn reactions]
A mother of 2 circumcised sons researches it before her 3rd is born
Another plastibell circumcision is video taped here
For more on HIV and Circumcision:Dr. Dean Edell discusses HIV, Africa, and Circumcision
Penn & Teller Discuss the Latest
The myths in the history of circumcision of girls in the United States is the same as those which surround the myths of male circumcision.