Don't Retract Pack

Cleveland Clinic's Pediatric Surgeon Says NO To Circumcision

By Natalie Rivera © 2012

Carlo's onesie reads, "I was made perfect. My parents kept me that way!" 

When I had my first son 10 years ago I had no idea what circumcision involved. It was just the 'thing to do' so I did it and never questioned anything about it. My son was not crying when they brought him back post-circumcision, so I thought it was 'no big deal...' That's the lie we are told as uninformed parents. What I did not know is some babies scream and fight while others slip into shock from the severe pain of genital cutting. It's not 'just a simple snip'... the foreskin is fused together with the glans (head) of the penis and must be cut apart with a surgical knife. It must be dug open and cut off. There is no such thing as a non-cutting method of circumcision. I feel horrible for allowing someone to do this to my first precious baby. I did not do my job to protect him, and I am so sorry.

This time we had a homebirth. A few weeks before my second son, Carlo, was born (January 2012) I was calling around to find someone to do the procedure (I still had not looked into circumcision and actually thought people who called it 'mutilation' were insane... After all, I was not cutting his arms or legs off!).

I called the Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital (Ohio) and when I asked the nurse about circumcision the pediatric surgeon said he wished to speak to me. He got on the phone and explained the entire circumcision procedure to me. This was the first time anyone had done so. He said that in his medical and personal opinion he would NOT circumcise. He said that if it was his son he wouldn't have it done. More and more people are leaving their sons intact today and by the time my son is sexually active the norm will be INTACT. This physician also mentioned that God doesn't make mistakes and there is no medical reason to circumcise. He reminded me that it is purely 'cosmetic' and almost exclusive to the United States.

I decided that if a surgeon (who would be making money off of this procedure) advised not to do it, I'd better look into things further, so I did some research. I read up on the 'pros' and the cons of circumcision and I watched a video of it being done. When I showed my husband he immediately said, "No way are we going to put our son through that!" I talked with a few people who have intact sons and husbands and they all assured me they are GREAT the way God made them and wouldn't want to be any other way!

I'm so thankful that someone took the time to inform and educate me on this subject. It saved Carlo from this mutilation... Yes, I said it: mutilation. When it comes to circumcision, we need to step up and speak out on behalf of our sons, because if they could speak at birth, they would say NO!


Natalie Rivera mothers her four children and homeschools in the Cleveland, OH area. She hopes that by sharing her experience and volunteering with Intact Ohio, other expecting parents are encouraged to look into circumcision before their own baby boy arrives. Natalie says she will always be thankful to this surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic for taking the time to speak with her about the realities of circumcision, and sparing her second son. She and her husband are two of the multiple thousands today in North America who are becoming informed and keeping future sons intact.

Read more from parents raising both circumcised and intact sons at I Circumcised My Son: Healing From Regret.

Research, resources and references at Are You Fully Informed?



  1. a gold medal to that surgeon.

  2. Finaly, a doctor with ethics! One who takes his oath "to do no harm" seriously. He is a shining role model to all the rest in the medical profession.

  3. Excellent. i worked there for years and let me tell you that the pediatrics at the clinic are fantastic. I had a good experience with them, too, when my son was a patient.

  4. My OBGYN is against it as well. Before we left the hospital he asked if we were circumcising. We had already decided we were not and he asked "why?" My OB is nothing short of amazing but I was still a little nervous about answering. So I just told him it wasn't medically necessary. He replied "I couldn't agree with you more." What a sigh a of relief. And we are so blessed to have such a smart doctor!! So glad you were able to find a doctor to give you the facts.

  5. Why do they even ask? If the medical community would stop soliciting genital cutting of boys, the rate would drop incredibly. It disgusts me to hear of doctors and nurses expressing joy that the answer is "no" when they ask a parent if they plan on carving up their child's penis. They cannot ask this of parents of girls. I look forward to the time when they no longer ask this question to parents of boys! May I live long enough to see that happen.

    1. You know, that's a really good point. Why on earth do we ask new parents of healthy, happy, newborn babies if they would like us to cut off a part of their son's penis?

      Isn't it a very, very odd question to be presenting in the first place?

      If we quit asking (sometimes begging - shudder!) to cut up penises at every chance we get, maybe the rates would drop even faster than they already are.

    2. So many mothers have told me that circumcision was just on the hospital "list"..... so they thought it was necessary. If hospitals would stop making circumcision look medically routine and stop putting it on their "list" and stop asking parents if their baby is going to be circumcised...I am sure more baby boys would be spared!!!!! Stop the list!!!!!

    3. In New Zealand in the 1970s, they stopped offering it or even mentioning it (it was called the "sleeping dogs" policy) and the rate dropped right away. Now it's hard to find a doctor willing to do it, a generation of men has grown (or as New Zealanders say, "growen") up looking different from their fathers, with no issues there, and there has been no outbreak of any of the diseases it was supposed to be good for. New Zealands's HIV/AIDS rate is one of the lowest in the world.

  6. What an excellent surgeon indeed! Hospitals around here really push circumcision basically making parents feel really terrible if they dont do it. It seems like they are saying you need to do this or your son will not be "normal".

  7. lindsey sullivanJune 29, 2012 4:05 PM

    Wonderful story! Congrats to you protecting your son, I know it's even harder when you already have other circumcised children. I must say I'm really proud of you. Hoping more docs will begin to tell the truth as time goes on. Everyday I hope that one day it will be illegal in the US.

  8. Little by little, one baby boy at a time...we are changing things. Good for you and your husband and kudos to you for going public and helping to bring awareness to infant male genital mutilation!

  9. I forwarded this article to my best friend who is expecting a boy. She was appalled & will be keeping her boy intact!! Thank you for the inspiration-