Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Plastibell Lie

By Robin Vaughn-Bortolus © 2012


After four days of labor to bring my sweet son into the world, he arrived perfect.

I was exhausted when a nurse came in and said that it was time for him to be circumcised. I had been preparing for my sons arrival for months. I had read everything I could to try and make sure that I made informed decisions on his behalf. I chose breastfeeding, no vaccines at birth, etc. I really thought I had covered ALL the things I would need to be prepared for.

But there I was faced with a procedure that I had failed to educate myself on: circumcision.

I told the nurse that I was not okay with my son being cut. She informed me that this hospital used a no-cut device called a Plastibell. She said that it was a pain free method for my son. It was in that moment that I made a decision on his behalf that I regret, and will regret, for the rest of my life. I signed off on the procedure.

I knew that I wasn't okay with a scalpel, knife, etc., being used on my newborn -- but here was a great cut-free, pain-free alternative, right? I could not have been more wrong.

When my son was brought back to me he was crying in such a way that shattered my heart. I knew in that instant that I had made a terrible mistake. It was only after getting home that I looked up the Plastibell method and discovered the terrible truth behind it. I was horrified at my ignorance.

Two weeks later my son had his check up and the physician told me that the Plastibell procedure had not been performed correctly - that my son's foreskin was still "to long." Without so much as asking my permission my son's doctor had his nurse begin to gather the necessary instruments to "fix the problem."

In that moment, I informed the doctor that my son was fine as he was and that we would NOT be "fixing" anything. He did not approve and we were forced to find another doctor. I failed my son when I signed those permission papers in the first place, but I refused to damage him further.

I can never take back what I subjected my son to by allowing him to altered. But hopefully by sharing this I can encourage other parents to be more informed than I was, and to not fall for the Plastibell lie.

~~~~

To learn more about the Plastibell method of circumcision, that many parents are told is 'cut-free' 'blood-free' and 'pain-free' please see: Plastibell Infant Circumcision.

Hear from other parents whose sons were circumcised before they had accurate information or support at I Circumcised My Son: Healing From Regret and Keeping Future Sons Intact.

Resources on intact care and circumcision are gathered at Are You Fully Informed? and the library at Saving Our Sons.

30 comments:

  1. The word "cut" is embedded in the word "circumcision." (circum = around, cise = cut)

    There *is* no such thing as a "no cut circumcision."

    How sad that chalatanistic doctors are taking advantage of parental naivete to push outright lies onto them.

    Sooner or later eliciting a "decision" where is none to be made is going to be recognized for the deliberate fraud that it is.

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  2. What's the consequence for that nurse for lying?

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    1. Robin Vaughn-BortolusMarch 22, 2012 5:01 PM

      Sadly there was none. I filed a complaint with the hospital and received an apology. The hospital said that it was simply a misunderstanding. They went on to say that I was not deliberatley mislead and that they would make sure that the staff involved knew the procedure and how it was done. I was not provided with ANY sort of information on the procedure simply the consent form and after care instructions.

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  3. I am glad I have a husband who respected my wishes on this subject. I am from Germany, he is an American. We live in the U.S., where circumcision is a standard procedure performed on almost all newborn boys. In Germany, however, that is not the case. The only thing I knew about circumcision was that it is talked about in the Bible and that the Jewish still honor that tradition today. So when we found out we were having a boy, I automatically made it a point to question as to WHY this had become a standard procedure in the U.S. We researched and asked several doctor's opinions and they all boiled down to one thing: that there is no medical reason at all for this procedure. It all came down to making it easier for a little boy to clean, and parents doing it just because they feared that their boy would get teased if he was different, or the father felt a need to have his son look the same. Those reasons were all not good enough for me to put my son through pain (and yes, newborns DO experience pain during this procedure, OF COURSE!). So, to all the parents out there who question why things are being done, please go research so you can make an informed decision when the time comes, whichever decision you will make.

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    1. it's far from 'almost all', like most people, you've been misled, it's well under 33% now, and it never got over 75%. which means, that if there will be any teasing because he has a foreskin, there will be 66% of the boys in the school also being teased.

      these people that are teasing, could very easily upset the local bully with that kind of thing. so, letting your child know that he's got the same thing as most other boys in school, will give him a perch, leaving him safe from the idiotic horde. of course, there will be rare occasion for other boys to see him naked in the first place.

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    2. The reason why circumcision went down is because of the large number of immigrants in the US, particularly immigrants from Latin America, India and Eastern Asia (except South Korea where circumcision became a fashion since the 1950s due to American influence). Most of the whites and large number of blacks still choose to circumcise their kids, and lots of them are because of religious reasons or a "family tradition". I personally encountered lots of right-wing white American Christians when I was back in Indiana, and almost all of them believe it's a Christian rite to circumcise your son. One of them was a pastor of a church affiliated with the Conservative Holiness Movement in Plainfield, IN, and he said "This is a Christian nation, keeping your sons uncircumcised is un-Christian and un-American." He also made the comment "Babies don't feel pain." What a wacko! But there are plenty people like this in Indiana, and in Indianapolis alone (which is the most not-conservative place in Indiana), there are at least 30 something churches belong to this ultra-radical Christian movement. And I'm sure there are probably more people like this in Southern states like Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, etc. where Christian Right dominates the society and few immigrants are present.

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  4. Why do doctor's try to take advantage of a woman who has just given birth? I knew I would NOT circ' my son. I told this to my doctors, I included it in my birth plan, and when my son was born and they still asked me if I would sign the forms to consent to have him circ'd I firmly stood my ground and said NO. Then, the day my son and I were going to go home from the hospital, an unknown woman steps in and approaches the basinet like she is going to wheel my son out of the room for another test. When I asked where she was taking my son, she then introduced herself as "the surgeon who was going to perform my son's circumcision"! I was furious. I firmly told her NO, and my son is still perfectly intact. However, I couldn't believe the pressure they were putting on my to have him cut, and how even though I countlessly explained that I did not want him cut, they still tried! This really bothers me.

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    1. I would have seriously went off on that woman! Good for you for questioning everything and making sure your son stayed safe.

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  5. "Why do doctor's try to take advantage of a woman who has just given birth?"

    Because they know they cannot take advantage of a man who has just turned 18.

    That's why.

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    1. Now there's an interesting blog article a-brewin' in my brain. So much paternalistic truth truth in those two short sentences.

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  6. I really admire your bravery when the doctor tried to "correct" the procedure from last time. Too often I read about people being convinced they have to do it again. Your son will likely live fuller life based on your bravery.

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  7. I can't believe that medical professionals still try to pressure parents into this procedure. It was completely unethical for that nurse to try to coerce a new Mom into an elective surgery on her son. We had a similar experience in that I had it in my chart that we would not be circumcising, but we were still asked by nearly everyone who walked into the room, and we were even billed for it. I called to have it corrected, and they told me that it was standard to bill for circumcision for all baby boys. I told them that my son had not been circumcised, and they were completely baffled and still refused to take it off the bill. It took 6 months to get it corrected. It is so wrong and embarrassing that this is still happening in our country.

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  8. My son was not circumcised and we were never once asked whether we wanted it done or not. We actually didn't research it, but wanted him to be like his daddy who was not circ'ed. I'm so thankful for that decision! The doctors, hospital, and nurses never once mentioned it to us, never asked or suggested it.
    We've also never had any issues at the hospital or doctors thereafter about it being mentioned or even an incorrect cath done (he's gone through many many procedures-he's a sickly tot).
    Not all hospitals or doctors are bad and it seems to be fairly normal around here (phx, az) for a boy to be left intact.

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  9. Wow, I feel so lucky to have had the medical professionals we did. No one even blinked when I said that we didn't want our son circmcised. His pediatrictian even encouraged us not to and exlained why all the studies that support it are weak. The doctor's and nurses at the hospital asked us once and never brought it up again. No one tried to trick or guilt us into it. I feel badly for people who have a beautiful event like a birth marred by ignorant fools.

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  10. I think a lot of hospitals still push it so hard because it is so profitable for them. It's easy, it's quick, and most people don't question the bill. So sad :(

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  11. surgery means more dollars for docs... that's why elective surgery & procedures...

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  12. These stories always sicken me. To give a new mama bad information to make a fast decision with lifelong implications...
    As a family physician, I was required to perform circumcisions during residency.
    I was horrified at how babies would suffer during the procedure. When I was sent in to get informed consent, I made sure to have the discussion with all parents about how its not medically necessary, describe the procedure, and so forth. Many people decided against it at this point. I was surprised how many parents were so afraid to make their own decisions. What would their friends say? All their friends' babies were circumcised. What would Grandma say? This is YOUR baby, I'd tell them. You get to make decisions for your baby. I worried what other decisions they'd make based on what others would say....
    If they still wanted one done I tried to have Dad come watch (as he was usually the one insisting on the procedure) and made sure I did it myself rather than let one of the others do it, to try to minimize any suffering for the baby. Usually, the baby is strapped to a plastic board, arms and legs splayed open, and not all doctors use anesthetic of any sort. I've seen babies scream hysterically or look shocky. This is the one time I would use a pacifier in a new baby--as a comfort to the poor lamb--and would swaddle their top halves instead of strapping their arms. For safety, we still had to strap the legs. I'd use EMLA (a numbing medication) prior to injecting lidocaine at the base of the penis (a penile block--to numb the entire organ). While I don't like giving medication to new babies and it was an additional risk, I couldn't see making the baby suffer unnecessarily. I'd always rock and cuddle the baby before and after. Many babies I circumcised slept through the entire procedure.
    But when they woke, it was a different story. Previously good nursers would stop, previously calm happy babies would fuss. And then there was the raw bloody organ in place of the healthy protected organ.
    I think I made a difference over time. I remember having long conversations with the nurses about it and made sure every resident under me was well versed in what informed consent REALLY means. After three years there, all the nurses were aware of the "other side of the story" of circumcision and I overheard on several occasions a nurse suggesting to a doctor, "Would you like to use emla before injecting?"
    Our son is intact and I am politely vocal about this to encourage others to protect their sons.
    While I'm sure for some doctors its about the money, for many doctors and nurses it really comes down to the routine. Just as a bank teller eventually gets numb to the ridiculous amount of money that passes through their hands daily or a sewage plant worker is able to eat lunch within moments of mucking around in something that would make the rest of us lose our lunch, doctors and nurses who spend all day delivering babies get into a routine and often forget that individual people are involved. One hospital may see hundreds of babies delivered in the course of a month. The nurses have checklists of what must be done prior to discharge and circumcision consent form is usually included on that list. What is such an incredibly precious, meaningful time for a family is just another day at work for many of their care providers. There are many exceptions to this as well. And that's not to say that healthcare workers are hard-hearted. They are usually overworked and exhausted and human just like everyone else. Ultimately, its a problem with the system, not the individuals.

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  13. A circumcision without any cutting is like a murder without any killing.

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  14. Circumcision was NEVER an option. Circumcision costs your son 40% of his sensitivity. (or more if botched)
    It's costs him his human rights.
    The best sex life nature has to offer for both a male and female.
    The most important part of the penis
    and about 500 bucks.

    My husband is very well endowed & not "snipped" and his foreskin works in amazing ways during our mind blowing sex. We've been married over 10 years and every time is just as amazing as our first encounter. If female circumcision is ILLEGAL, why the hell would I put my precious baby through a horrific traumatic experience. Its ignorant and goes to show how uneducated "new" parents are, most are repeat offenders. Its called research and now you have to live with the fact that he may not be able to feel, or preform as a man, all because you "whoops, I didn't know" Do the world a favor and STOP BREEDING!!

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  15. Someone told me before that there was no cutting in the plastibell and i said..."well that is almost worse, if true. How else do you remove a body part without cutting it off. I mean the foreskin doesn't just disappear. So something is done that to me, may almost be worse than cutting"

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  16. We have always said 'no' to circumcision, but thank you for posting your story. Have you seen this site as well? http://www.savingsons.org/ you may want to pass your post on to them.

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  17. I'm an OB nurse and lactation consultant posting as "Anonymous" because I would probably get in trouble if my boss knew that I discussed the risks (many) and benefits (few, if any) with Moms if I have the opportunity. That is supposed to be the doctor's job and the nurse just witnesses her sign the consent. Since I speak Spanish, i'm often asked by the nurses to ask the Spanish-speaking moms if they want their baby circumcised. I know many of them say "yes" if there is no translator because they have no idea what circumcision is. They're horrified when I tell them that curcumcision is cutting the skin off the head of the penis and say "no". I can't walk by the room where the circumcisions are performed because I can't stand hearing the blood-curdling screams from those poor little babies. No anesthesia is used at my hospital. If parents were allowed in the room with their babies, they would never consent to having it done. Most of the babies seem to be in shock after the surgery (and it is surgery, not a "procedure"). I am amazed at how the nurses really seem to believe that the babies feel no pain and it's no bog deal. When I assist with frenotomies they think it's the most horrible thing and refuse to assist. The two are not comparable at all. I'm glad you were brave enoughto stand up for your son and not let them cut him again. He will thank you later when he realizes that he is nearly intact. There's no such thing as having too much foreskin

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  18. Genital mutilation of children should be criminalised regardless of your religion! If a man wants it to show god how devoted he is - he can choose circumcision AS AN ADULT!
    Circumcision of children violates human rights - is potentially fatal - is unnecessary - and here is the thing that few people seem to talk about .... the sex is usually way better with an intact male! This is something I have talked about with my female friends - most women found intact men much more pleasurable. And from what I have read - intact men have far more nerve endings and therefore have more pleasurable sex too. Leave your sons the way nature intended- for everyone's sake!

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  19. Sadly I was convinced when my son was 4 years old to allow them to circumcise him for medical reasons. Both my boys were left intact and I did not want my younger son to be circumcised, but the pediatric urologist convinced me that it was needed due to concerns of his kidney situation and for safety during a procedure. They said we needed to circumcise him so that they did not cause damage to his still unretractable foreskin when they did the tests. It was awful! The odd scaring, adhesions and poor job they did have forever hurt my son. Turns out that they lied to me to get me to allow the surgery, as they assumed the circ would solve the problems he was having. They did not even do the test the we were sent to them for! Not only did it not solve the problems, but it created a who new set of problems including urinary leakage. It was so painful for him and I regretted it as soon as it was over. I had stood my ground when he was a baby, and failed him now that he was older.

    DO NOT listen to the urologists alone. Do your research and get a second opinion before agreeing to a circumcision even for "medical reasons." These doctors think it's no big deal and do not support our choice to leave them intact.

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  20. i really do not understand this practice.. i also had similar experience when pediatricians tried to change my mind, fortunately we didn't allow them. It's horible, no reason and after all if the boy wants to be circumsied, let him decide it as an adult, not as an infant

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  21. As a maternal child nurse, we prefer that babies don't have circumcisions, so it is unfortunate that anyone in the medical field tries to change a parent's mind or sway them toward circumcision, especially since the AAP stated that they were not necessary several years ago. This is a good reminder to all moms out there that spend so much time researching a birth plan, to know all of your choices and options and most of all, to choose a provider or practice with whom you TRUST.

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  22. This is not the first time I've heard of doctors telling parents that the Plastibel method of circumciison involves no cutting.

    This is where it goes from medical advice to perversion, fraud, deception, fethishism and other things a doctor should not be engaging in. But, money is involved here and sex is involved and doctors are protected. In short, it should be expected that when these elements are involved, some doctors will coerce, lie and go for the gold.

    .

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    1. I read these postings with horror! My basic instinct tells me that a human who subjects its offspring to mutilation is no human - were I to decide, circumcisors should be executed instantly, all of them. Would rid us of a few terror bombers too. Remember a story of a Norwegian father who was told by a doctor that he intended to circumcise his newborn son - the doctor never recovered from the injuries.

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    2. link to that story? THAT is one I would like to hear

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  23. I have two sons, and both are circumcised...unfortunately. With my oldest I was only 19, I was young and uneducated. With my second I was 21 and I had researched ever aspect of parenting, or so I thought. I decided I was going to stop vaccinating my oldest and was not going to vaccinate my youngest, I was going to breastfeed and do baby-led weaning, I was going to do extended rear facing....I thought I had all the bases covered, but I failed to research circumcision until a few short months ago when I stumbled on a circumcision video.....ever since then, any time I see any circumcision video or image I picture my own sons on that table and I just break down. I failed my sons, twice. My oldest did get the plastibell procedure, I was told it was a painless and risk free procedure with no cutting required. So I, of course, fell for it. With my youngest I fell for the cleanliness and health myths. I feel like a horrible mother, I failed to protect my baby boys from this torture, and now they have to live the rest of their lives missing a part of their body because of my ignorance, they have to deal with any issues that could arise as a result.

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