I am endlessly proud of all of you who joined in person, sent letters, and made video testimonies to participate in the public hearing of Massachusetts' MGM Bill today. Here are the public testimonies stated by Georganne Chapin (Executive Director of Intact America) and Matthew Hess (President of MGMBill.org). Both are outstanding individuals who work tirelessly for the cause.
If you would like to contribute your public testimony in support of the MGM Bill here for others to read, please send it to us: IntactInternational@gmail.com and we will add it to this page.
Testimony of Georganne Chapin, J.D., Executive Director of Intact America before the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on the Judiciary Concerning Senate Bill 1777. March 2, 2010
My name is Georganne Chapin, J.D. and I am the Executive Director of Intact America, an organization formed last year to change how Americans think about neonatal male circumcision. We have a website at www.intactamerica.org to serve as a clearinghouse for information on the ethics, risks and harms of infant circumcision, and the advantages of the normal, intact male body.
This hearing comes at a key time in the growing movement to protect the human rights of baby boys from a medically unnecessary, painful and risky procedure that removes healthy, functioning human tissue. The procedure is unethical at its core. Medical ethics requires benefit to the patient and informed consent before something as invasive as surgery can be justified. Obviously, informed consent is not possible with a newborn baby.
No reputable medical authority – not the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control or the American Medical Association, which calls male circumcision “non-therapeutic” – has ever recommended in favor of the surgery.
The United States is the only western nation that practices medical circumcision on a majority of newborn baby boys. In Europe, circumcision rates are below five percent. Even here, the rate has dropped from nearly 90 percent thirty years ago to around 55 percent today. The increase in baby boys who remain intact is due to a growing awareness among expectant parents that the surgery is unnecessary, and that the foreskin is a natural, healthy functional body part that should not be removed absent some unusual and compelling medical reason.
However, parts of the medical establishment are now considering whether to recommend for the first time in favor of this unnecessary and risky surgery, which – by the way – adds more than a billion dollars a year to physician and hospital revenue and thus to the nation’s health care costs.
These promoters of infant circumcision are basing their consideration on studies conducted among consenting adult African men on the role of circumcision in mitigating HIV transmission. Those African studies showed while female to male transmission decreased with male circumcision, the surgery did nothing to reduce HIV transmission from males to females or between males – still the most prevalent transmission modality in the United States. In fact, the most recent African studies ended early because women contracted HIV at alarmingly higher rates from circumcised men, presumably because the men were not using condoms – the only effective means to prevent HIV transmission.
If there were a link between circumcision and HIV, why does this country have both the highest HIV rates and highest circumcision rates among industrialized countries?
One should no more argue for male circumcision because babies might engage in unsafe behavior decades into the future than one would recommend removing fingernails to prevent them from scratching themselves, removing teeth to prevent dental caries, or removing a healthy appendix because it might one day burst.
Forced female circumcision is properly viewed with revulsion – and in fact is banned – in this country. Soraya Miré, the Somali filmmaker who is a worldwide leader in the fight to end the brutal “cultural” practice of female circumcision, has eloquently stated that the same human right to an intact body should apply to boys. How can we argue otherwise?
More than 500 of our supporters – including doctors, nurses, parents and men who regret having been circumcised without their consent – have submitted written testimony through the www.intactamerica.org website and we are making those available to you.
Physicians must embrace the fact that their patient is the baby, not the parent, and that their patient cannot consent to circumcision. They must honor the oath they take to heal the sick and do no harm, by saying no to neonatal male circumcision. As a society, we should do the same.
Public Hearing Testimony of Matthew Hess, President of MGMbill.org for The Massachusetts Joint Committee on the Judiciary concerning Bill Number S. 1777 on March 2, 2010
I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for allowing me to speak at this hearing today. My name is Matthew Hess, and I am here to testify on behalf of our national organization, MGMbill.org, in support of Senate Bill Number 1777.
In addition to the MGM Bill before you, our group has authored similar legislation for Congress and 44 other state legislatures. All of our bill proposals ask for the same thing: equal protection of the law. It has long been recognized that circumcision of girls is both unnecessary and dangerous. But circumcision of boys is also medically unnecessary, and numerous articles, studies, books, and films have documented the harmful physical and emotional effects that can result from this surgery.
Although proponents of infant male circumcision argue that there are potential medical benefits when the foreskin is removed, similar if not greater benefits would be achieved by removing other functional body parts. To use just one example, if a physician were to remove healthy breast tissue from a baby girl to protect her from breast cancer one day in the future, that would be considered both unethical and illegal, and rightly so. Why, then, do we make an exception for the male foreskin?
What we are proposing is not a radical measure. We are not calling for a complete ban on male circumcision, nor are we seeking to pass judgment on those who elect to undergo this procedure. All we are asking is that circumcision not be permitted until the adult male gives his own consent.
To address the argument that granting this right would violate our freedom of religion, the courts have consistently stated that while parents are free to make martyrs of themselves, they are not free to make martyrs of their children.
Girls have been legally protected from all types of genital cutting since 1997 under Title 18 of the United States Code. By extension, the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that the same protection be given to boys. I respectfully ask you to honor that requirement in Massachusetts by enacting the MGM Bill.