Bright Pediatrics in Dalton Georgia joins the Hall of Shame

As reported by intactivist Brother K, a Georgia mom “got kicked out of our pediatric practice for telling the Dr not to touch my sons penis after he insisted on retracting…. I tried to talk and he told me not to say anything and to just get out.”

Dr. Saad Hammid MD FAAP from Bright Pediatrics in Dalton, Georgia

Dr. Saad Hammid MD FAAP from Bright Pediatrics in Dalton, Georgia

Our IntactWiki page tried to share the American Academy of Pediatrics page about the care of the uncircumcised penis with Dr. Saad Hammid MD FAAP from Bright Pediatrics, but the comment was promptly deleted by not-so-Bright Peds.

The AAP’s page on care for an uncircumcised penis states: “As a boy becomes more aware of his body, he will most likely discover how to retract his own foreskin. But foreskin retraction should never be forced. Until the foreskin fully separates, do not try to pull it back. Forcing the foreskin to retract before it is ready can cause severe pain, bleeding, and tears in the skin.

Thus, Dr. Saad Hammid MD and Bright Pediatrics of Dalton, Georgia, join CircWatch’s Hall of Fame for trying to injure normal babies by forcefully retracting their foreskin, and refusing to accept information about proper intact care.

Our short lived attempt to provide information about proper intact care to Bright Pediatrics of Dalton

Our short lived attempt to provide information about proper intact care to Bright Pediatrics of Dalton

hall-of-shame

 

 

Babygaga’s harmful advice on care of the foreskin – Hall of Shame

babygagaBabygaga is known for frequently posting pro-circumcision advice and improper care of the intact foreskin. The problem is, such information does not come without victims. Well meaning mothers may follow such improper advice and injure their babies.

For example, on July 18th, Babygaga published an article called “16 things nobody tells you about newborns“. On numeral 9 (“Be careful with the penis”), the faceless Bridget Galbreath claims “If he isn’t circumcised, you will have to roll the foreskin back completely to make sure that you thoroughly clean the penis with every diaper change.

Even the not-so-luminaries of the American Academy of Pediatrics have it better, when they write on their “Care for an uncircumcised penis” page:

Most boys will be able to retract their foreskins by the time they are 5 years old, yet others will not be able to until the teen years. As a boy becomes more aware of his body, he will most likely discover how to retract his own foreskin. But foreskin retraction should never be forced. Until the foreskin fully separates, do not try to pull it back. Forcing the foreskin to retract before it is ready can cause severe pain, bleeding, and tears in the skin.

Trying to “roll back” the foreskin of a baby is painful and dangerous. Babygaga is recommending this against the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and pretty much against anyone who understands normal intact anatomy of the male newborn.

Numerous intactivists have reached out to Babygaga asking to correct this article. We will keep an eye on the article hoping for correction.

In the meantime, Babygaga inaugurates our Hall of Shame.

hall-of-shame

Fundamentals of anatomy? What’s up with Dr. Frederic Martini?

To think that the American medical community is biased for circumcision is an understatement. The most information that American medical texts provide about the foreskin is that it is removed by circumcision. That would be like describing the female breasts as the part removed by mastectomy, with no regard to function, form, and benefits of having it.

Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology

Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology

Today we received a couple of images from a book called “Fundamentals of Anatomy and Physiology“, by Dr. Frederic Martini, Dr. Judi Nath and Ed Bartholomew. On their text, the prepuce is described as a “fold of skin” with glands that “secrete a waxy material known as smegma” which “can be an excellent nutrient source for bacteria“. Because of that, “mild inflammation and infections in this area are common, especially if the area is not washed thoroughly and frequently“, but thank God for the solution, because “one way to avoid such problems is circumcision, the surgical removal of the prepuce“.

Then we are told that “in Western societies (especially the United States) this procedure is generally performed shortly after birth” and then we are told that circumcision reduces the risks of UTIs, HIV infection and penile cancer. Finally we are told that the practice remains controversial because of the risks of “bleeding, infections, and other complications“.

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Nothing else is said about the foreskin. Not a thought of describing the outer skin, the inner mucosa, the frenulum, the frenular band, the frenular delta, the dartos fascia, the meissners corpuscles, the balanopreputial synechiae, the normal development of retraction, the immunological functions of the foreskin, the gliding motion… you know, the real anatomy and physiology of the foreskin!

So, let’s see. First, they focus their description on the fact that the foreskin secretes smegma. Big deal. Secreting smegma is normal, men and women do it. Smegma can accumulate inside the foreskin of children, and that is normal. Irritations can occur, but irritations can occur on any part of the body; foreskin irritation is often the result of overzealous cleaning or leaving soap residue, or using antibacterial or scented soap, not just from having some smegma.

Removing the foreskin to eliminate smegma is really absurd. Your body will still shed cells, they just won’t accumulate, they will stick to your underwear instead. But even if this was such an important factor, it should be a personal decision, not a parental one.

We are told that Western societies, especially the United States, practice infant circumcision. In fact, it would ONLY be the United States, which hardly accounts for the totality of “Western societies“. Most of the world does not circumcise, not Europe, not Latin America, not non-Muslim Asia. In general, circumcision is limited to the United States, Israel, Philippines, South Korea, Muslim societies and some African tribes. But perhaps mentioning this wouldn’t really make such a good case as the fictitious “Western societies” described by these doctors.

Discussing the topics of UTIs, HIV and penile cancer would take pages and has been done already, here and in other places. Penile cancer, scary as it sounds, is rare, and is mostly associated with HPV infection and maybe with phimosis during adulthood, but it’s not an argument in favor of infant circumcision.

According to a letter to the AAP sent by 38 physicians heads of medical organizations from the actual “Western societies”, “only 1 of the arguments put forward by the American Academy of Pediatrics has some theoretical relevance in relation to infant male circumcision; namely, the possible protection against urinary tract infections in infant boys, which can easily be treated with antibiotics without tissue loss. The other claimed health benefits, including protection against HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts, and penile cancer, are questionable, weak, and likely to have little public health relevance in a Western context, and they do not represent compelling reasons for surgery before boys are old enough to decide for themselves“.

Finally the practice of circumcision is not controversial because of the risk of pain, infection and complications. Yes, those things are problematic, but the practice is controversial because it overrides informed consent and restricts body ownership, by performing an irreversible non-medically necessary genital alteration on a person who is not yet competent to provide informed consent – but who will one day be competent. But of course, they won’t acknowledge the central human rights issue of the controversy, why would they?

So, for a book that sells new for $231 and which is used to educate medical students, we feel that this piece misleading information is a disservice to generations of medical professionals.

 

Edgar Schoen, MD passed away

Edgar Schoen, M.D., (August 10, 1925 – August 23, 2016) passed away peacefully in his sleep on August 23, at his home and surrounded by family.

Edgar Schoen was an American Jewish Physician and worked as a Clinical Professor in Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. In 1987, Schoen was appointed head of the Task Force on Circumcision by the American Association of Pediatrics, where he pushed for routine infant circumcision, but the neonatologists on Schoen’s committee wouldn’t go for it. Under his supervision, the AAP released the Policy Statement on circumcision of 1989, which was greatly reverted by a new statement in 1999. Schoen angrily criticized the overriding statement of 1999 in a letter titled “It’s Wise to Circumcise: Time to Change Policy

As an enthusiastic circumcision promoter, Schoen shamelessly mixed medical, religious and cultural arguments. His bias was clearly obvious in some of his latest articles, such as “Circumcision is not only Jewish, it’s good for you” (JWeekly, 2013) or his 2009 book “Circumcision, Sex, God, and Science: Modern Health Benefits of an Ancient Ritual“.

We share a recently released video interview conducted by James Loewen in 2009, where Dr. Schoen expresses his views rather freely.

AAP 1984 – or how circumcision causes amnesia

As told by Steven Svoboda of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, on October of 2013 there was a debate at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, South Carolina, during which, Dr. Michael Brady MD, one of the 8 members of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ task force on circumcision responsible for the Policy Statement and Technical Report of 2012, declared: “I don’t think anybody knows the functions of the foreskin,” and then reiterated, “Nobody knows the functions of the foreskin.”

That is strange, because just 29 years earlier the American Academy of Pediatrics had a pamphlet discussing the “Care of the uncircumcised penis”, which included a brief discussion of some of the functions of the foreskin, and a drawing clearly showing the anatomy of the intact penis.

The first edition of this 1984 pamphlet had the word “uncircumcised” spelled incorrectly: “uncircumcized”. There was a second batch printed with this misspelling corrected, but then, when a new batch was printed in 1990, the paragraph about functions of the foreskin and the anatomical drawing suddenly went missing.

Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., of the Circumcision Resource Center, started inquiring about this curious omission on January of 1996. He contacted the AAP eight times about this change. After having been passed by four  AAP officials, he finally obtained this response in September of 1996:

The reviewers felt it was not necessary to reinstate the paragraph because the revision of the brochure included a complete reorganization of the information contained in previous editions.”

According to Dr. Goldman, a comparison of new and previous editions did not show “complete reorganization of the information” and there was no reason why the removed information would have stopped being relevant to parents.

In fact, the AAP still has a page on the “Care for an uncircumcised penis” on their website. It is not a bad page, although there are some things that could be a lot better, and the functions of the foreskin are still missing.

Perhaps if they had listened to Dr. Goldman in 1996, Dr. Brady would have been able to describe some functions of the foreskin when asked about them, during the 2013 debate.

So… what was that controversial paragraph?

The Function of the Foreskin: The glans at birth is delicate and easily irritated by urine and feces. The foreskin shields the glans; with circumcision this protection is lost. In such cases, the glans and especially the urinary opening (meatus) may become irritated or infected, causing ulcers, meatitis (inflammation of the meatus), and meatal stenosis (a narrowing of the urinary opening). Such problems virtually never occur in uncircumcised penises. The foreskin protects the glans throughout life.

This is the anatomical drawing, prepared by Edward Wallerstein (author of the 1980 book “Circumcision: An American Health Fallacy“), which was included in the pamphlet:

wallerstein

It is important to note that no anatomical drawings are included in the 2012 AAP Policy Statement and Technical Report on circumcision. The word “Frenulum” (or “frenum”) does not even appear in either document.

This is a scan of the 1984 pamphlet, as shared by Dr. Goldman (click to enlarge).

AAP1

AAP2

Given these obvious omissions, it seems hypocritical from the AAP to claim, as they do, that “It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner.

Our conclusion is that perhaps circumcision causes amnesia. Selective amnesia. That, or they have a vested interest in maintaining high rates of circumcision for financial gain, but that would be dishonest, wouldn’t it?

Dr. Goldman’s discussion of the pamphlet: http://circumcision.org/pamphlet.htm

CIRP page mentioning this pamphlet: http://www.cirp.org/library/normal/aap/

CIRCUMSTITIONS discussion of this pamphlet: http://www.circumstitions.com/AAP-care.html

Attorneys for the Rights of the Child telling of the 2013 debate: http://www.arclaw.org/our-work/presentations/charleston-debate-marks-turning-point-movement-recognize-circumcision-human-r

AAP Current page: Care for an uncircumcised penis. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Care-for-an-Uncircumcised-Penis.aspx

 

 

Doug Diekema and Brian Morris join forces – who made the biggest mistake?

One of our not-so-favorite pedoethicists, Dr. Doug Diekema, in cahoots with our favorite punching bag, Brian J. Morris Ph.D, emeritus (or retired) professor of the University of Sydney, just published a new paper called “critical evaluation of Adler’s challenge to the CDC’s male circumcision recommendation”. Other co-authors are Beth Rivin, Anna Mastroianni, John Krieger and Jeffrey Klausner.

The paper obviously intends to be a response to Peter Adler’s  “The draft CDC circumcision recommendations: Medical, ethical, legal, and procedural concerns”, Int. Children’s Rights 24 (2016), 239–264. It seems that many publications consider Brian Morris the go-to person to review circumcision papers, which also gives him the chance to write lengthy diatribes as response to any paper that oppose the circumcision of children. That way, in the future, Morris can claim that “experts (himself and anyone willing to lend his or her name as co-author) challenged this paper”, always ignoring any response to his response. Man, he can get really tiring.

This is typical Brian Morris’ modus operandi, but recently Mr. Morris has taken to have one of the coauthors appear as the first listed author. Nevertheless, the corresponding author is Mr. Morris.

Once you read the paper, it is nothing but a rehash of Morris’ usual arguments. But before we go into it any deeper, let’s consider the meaning of having Diekema as a co-author:

  • Diekema is one of the 8 members of the AAP Task Force on circumcision that authored the AAP Policy statement on circumcision of 2012.
  • The Policy Statement and accompanying Technical Report did not make reference to any publication by Mr. Morris
  • The members of the AAP Task Force characterized the policy statement as neutral. Diekema himself said to the New York Times We’re not pushing everybody to circumcise their babies, this is not really pro-circumcision. It falls in the middle. It’s pro-choice, for lack of a better word.”
  • Recently (April 2016), a fellow member of the AAP Task Force, apparently a more rational Dr. Andrew Freedman (in spite of circumcising his own baby on his parents’ kitchen table for religious reasons), wrote: “we have to accept that there likely will never be a knockout punch that will end the debate. It is inconceivable that there will ever be a study whose results are so overwhelming as to mandate or abolish circumcision for everyone

But, when we read this new “critical evaluation”, we find a position that is far more extreme than what the AAP has ever presented. It’s difficult to understand how Diekema decided to lend his name to this paper. Let’s see how some of the typical Brian Morris’ arguments develop in this paper:

  • Adler’s criticisms depend on speculative claims and obfuscation of the scientific data

    [Morris seems to think that anyone who opposes circumcision is obfuscating data, and that the decision to circumcise depends only on data, and not on the rights, desires and interest of the patient]

  • Adler’s central argument that circumcision in infancy should be delayed to allow a boy to make up his own mind as an adult fails to appreciate that circumcision later in life is a more complex  operation, entails higher risk, is more likely to involve general anaesthesia and presents financial, psychological and organisational barriers

    [To this argument we counter that since 2007 there are some circumcision devices invented with the purpose of making adult circumcision more simple, less expensive and painful, such as the FDA approved PrePex, so it’s up to the medical community to pick up on the new technology and offer those devices – which will likely reduce the cost of adult circumcision to the same levels of neonatal circumcision. It’s likely that the medical community is reluctant to do so because of the reduced profit though. But it’s unscientific to deny that such technology exists and is available at a fraction of the current costs. Besides, a circumcision CHOSEN by one person is less likely to induce psychological harms than one FORCED upon a person when they are too young to remove themselves from the situation]

  • Benefits of male circumcision include

    [Morris’ typical lethany… ]

  • Circumcision does not impair sexual function or pleasure.

    [To claim this, one would have to define sexual function, and would have to find an accurate way of measuring pleasure. Second, science can’t claim it “does not”. At most it can say “it does not appear to”. Third, far too numerous people know that it in facts alters sexual function and causes sexual difficulties which vary with different people. Brian Morris intended to erase this with a meta-analysis a few years back, but the argument is far from over. Morris himself has said that “The foreskin is an absolute requirement for a mutual masturbation practice amongst homosexual men known as "docking", in which the penis is placed under the foreskin of the male partner” – so if the foreskin an “absolute requirement” for this, then sexual function and pleasure are impacted, at least for this population. Docking is also possible between a male and some females, as long as the male has not been circumcised, so it is not something exclusive of the homosexual population, and even if it was, it would still be within their rights to make an autonomous decision.

  • Since the benefits vastly outweigh the risks, each intervention is in the best interests of the child.

    [This statement is particularly troublesome considering Diekema’s involvement on this article; the AAP specifically said: the benefits outweigh the risks (not “vastly”), “but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision” and “The true incidence of complications after newborn circumcision is unknown”. Fellow task forcer Andrew Freedman described circumcision as having "some modest benefits and some modest risks". So how Diekema could lend his name to the previous statement is really problematic.

  • From that point on, Morris states: “Below, we summarise the scientific and legal evidence that contradicts each of Adler’s arguments”

    [At this point however, I will quote Andrew Freedman, referenced above: “there likely will never be a knockout punch that will end the debate. It is inconceivable that there will ever be a study whose results are so overwhelming as to mandate or abolish circumcision for everyone”]

  • At the end of 3.4.1. Morris claims: “As noted above, the CDC found that benefits of IMF (infant male circumcision) exceed risks by ‘100:1’

    [No, the CDC did not find that. The CDC quoted one paper by Brian Morris where he claims this number, so this is just a circular reference to himself. BTW, this number really has no meaning, it's just an emotional argument disguised as a number.]

Brian Morris is selective as always in what he presents as evidence. For example he claims that “Early circumcision also greatly reduces the risk of penile cancer (Daling et al., 2005; Larke et al., 2011) and prostate cancer (Wright et al., 2012).” On prostate cancer, Wright himself explained to Reuters: “I would not go out and advocate for widespread circumcision to prevent prostate cancer. We see an association, but it doesn’t prove causality.”  That, however, doesn’t matter to Mr. Morris.

Most of the discussion though is really irrelevant. Everyone can find a reference to support their opinion, thus leading to the belief that such opinion is “scientific”. And then ignore any other reference which opposes that opinion, as “unscientific”. But the real argument is not one of science or not. It’s one of body ownership.

Trying to contradict this argument, Morris brings up a YouGov survey: “A recent survey found 29 per cent of uncircumcised men wished they had been circumcised, compared with only 10 per cent of circumcised men who wished that they had not been (YouGov, 2015)” It doesn’t matter to Morris that this is a non-scientific, non-peer reviewed, online survey. As long as it fits his views, he will claim it. However, it is important to notice that such comparison is not symmetric, since any uncircumcised man who wishes he had been circumcised could still opt for adult circumcision, particularly demanding the medical community makes available those devices such as the PrePex which would make adult circumcision more simple and less expensive, without the requirement of general anesthesia; however, any percent of men circumcised during childhood who wishes they had not been circumcised, are largely at loss, since the medical community has nothing to offer in the sense of foreskin regeneration, which once again becomes an argument to support delaying any decision until the person can offer informed consent.

It is important to recognize that scientists, even bioethicists (such as the Benatars, Arora and Jacobs, or Diekema himself) are not immune to religious and cultural bias. The Benatars and Jacobs are of Jewish faith and they make the fact that they consider infant circumcision vital to their Jewish identity (which not all Jewish people agree) clear; Jacobs along with Arora, just like Diekema, have gone as far to defend some forms of female genital cutting of minors as parental rights, something that Morris fails to mention.

On the topic of female genital cutting of minors, Diekema defended the ritual nick explaining that “[It] would remove no tissue, would not touch any significant organ but, rather [it] would be a small nick of the clitoral hood which is the equivalent of the male foreskin – nothing that would scar, nothing that would do damage” – again, a fact missed by Morris in his decision to call Diekema to join hands in this paper.

Diekema himself wrote: “The real art of bioethics is convincing other people why something is right or something is wrong and why something shouldn’t be done or should be done. Many people aren’t going to pay attention to you if that argument is crafted purely in religious language. One of the things that I’ve had to do is craft arguments in the language of the world, which I have not found to be particularly difficult. The reality is that medical ethics has its roots largely in theological ethics, so the basic principles that many people who are not religious subscribe to actually have very strong roots in the Bible and in religious belief.” For the open minded reader I ask, are those the arguments of a scientist or a theologian?

Finally, let’s just remember a few of Diekema’s faults (see IntactWiki for references):

  • Clearing the “Ashley treatment” – where a severely disabled girl was subjected to removal of her breast buds, hysterectomy, appendectomy and growth attenuation, a treatment later declared illegal without the order of a court. Dr. Daniel F. Gunther, a doctor involved in this case, committed suicide shortly after for unclear reasons
  • Defending the AAP’s policy statement on “Ritual genital cutting of female minors” and the ritual nick.
  • Defending parents who allowed a teenage son to die without medical treatment because he believed in faith healing.
  • Misrepresenting the death of baby Joshua Haskins in a radio interview (during the presentation of the 2012 policy statement). In this interview Diekema claimed that this case “involved a very sick baby that was likely to die anyway and his parents wanted him circumcised before his death” – when in fact the parents had been fighting along with the baby for his life, and they were told that their baby was now strong enough to tolerate the circumcision – but then allowed to bleed for several hours from the circumcision site, leading to the baby’s cardiac arrest and death.
  • Diekema and fellow task force Michael Brady were shamefully defeated in a debate, by Attorneys for the Rights of the Child member Steven Svoboda and his staff, a debate in which Brady declared:  “I don’t think anybody knows the functions of the foreskin. Nobody knows the functions of the foreskin.” One of Svoboda’s staff members was able to point to his experience as intact male, and how his foreskin is part of his sexual life on a regular basis.

After the release of the 2012 statement, Intaction offered Diekema the “Mengele award”, one that Diekema didn’t make a speech for.

564120_10151091525431937_1050504135_n

Intaction member Anthony Losquadro offers Doug Diekema the “Mengele award”
Photo by James Loewen.

 

So, after all this, I don’t know who made a more questionable mistake here, Brian Morris by enlisting the questionable Doug Diekema as a coauthor, or Doug Diekema, by lending his name to extreme pro-circumcision arguments that are not even compatible with those of the Policy Statement that he and his fellow AAP Task Force members presented. What do you think?

Dr. Anthony Chin is severely biased on circumcision

Anthony Chin, MD

Anthony Chin, MD

U.S. News Healthcare published an article (“Circumcision: Why it May Be as Important as Vaccines to Your Child’s Health“) by one Anthony Chin, MD, pediatric surgeon and director of surgical critical care at Children’s Hospital of Chicago. This article is so biased and willfully blind to facts that it is not even worth the cost of the pixels used to display it on your screen.

The author claims that science is clear, that circumcision is a matter of good medicine and smart prevention. I don’t know of any other kinds of “prevention” that remove normal parts of the body without taking into consideration the wishes of the patient, particularly when there is no reason to expect any major pathology of said part (i.e. genetic reasons, preexisting symptoms, etc).

The doctor claims that as physicians “we must respect [the family's] choice“. But, why? What other reductive surgeries are performed for “family’s choice” and -again- without consideration to the wishes of the actual real patient?

He then says “we have a professional obligation to educate parents and help them make as informed and as safe as call as possible“. Well, if one is to educate a parent on the removal of the foreskin, one should be willing and able to discuss what the foreskin is and what it does. And this doctor fails at that, as we will see.

Just to compare, a recent policy for labiaplasties on teenagers, by the American College of Physicians and Pediatricians, recommends appropriate counseling, screening for body dysmorphic disorder, and recommends that the obstetrician-gynecologist be ready to discuss normal sexual development, wide variability in appearance of genitalia, nonsurgical treatment options and autonomous decision making. None of this basic elements is discussed when it comes to circumcising male children.

Then, to support the “science behind an ancient ritual“, he tells us that studies indicate that circumcised males have fewer urinary tract infections. Of course he omits that this UTIs are rare, that the “protective” effect applies only to the first year of life -while circumcision is for life-, that UTIs are generally easy to treat, that with the exception of the first year of life females have more UTIs than males and we don’t perform surgery on them, and that over 100 circumcisions have to be performed to prevent a single UTI -which again, would be easy to treat. So it is hardly proportional to what it is supposed to prevent.

He then says that circumcised males have a lower risk for sexually acquiring and transmitting certain infections. While some studies show a reduced incidence of some STDs on circumcised males, there are far more factors than the presence or absence of foreskin, such as appropriate sexual education, safe sex practices, and the specific risk groups and behaviors the individual moves in, which is why anyone promoting circumcision for STD prevention without educating on safe sex is actually endangering people. Anyone, circumcised or not, can contract an STD. Many STDs are transmitted in the semen, so circumcised or not, an infected male will transmit the STD unless a proper barrier is used.

The next predictable claim is the infamous 60% risk reduction of contracting HIV. As always, he misses the fact that this applies only to female to male transmission through unprotected penetration, that this does not apply to males who have sex with males, to unprotected oral or anal sex, or to any non-sexual form of HIV transmission. Besides, there are numerous questions about the methodology used in the African trials and about their significance in non sub-Saharan environments.

He then tells us that “the biological mechanism behind the protective effect is not entirely clear“. Well, after about 150 years of “medical” circumcision in the United States, something as simple as this is still not clear? He goes on to repeat a biological feasibility that has not been demonstrated, meaning that it is nothing but speculation.

The one good point is the acknowlegding that circumcision is no “silver bullet“, no “replacement  for practicing safe sex” etc.

Then he goes on to try to dispell some “myths” about circumcision.

The first “myth” of course is that circumcision interferes with penile sensitivity. He calls it pernicious and persistence, and says research has found that it doesn’t. I wish that was the case. For one, the 2007 study by Sorrells showed that the foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis to soft touch. A 2016 study and thesis by Jennifer Bossio that tried to contradict Sorrells actually corroborated it – even if the author then failed to recognize it. She did write that the foreskin was significantly more sensitive to touch stimulus.

Besides, it’s simply logic. If the foreskin is alive, if it is any sensitive, removing it by definition removes any amount of sensitivity provided by the foreskin. Thus, there is a loss in sensitivity no matter what.

His second myth is that only newborns can get circumcised. He claims that the optimal time is before 3 months of age (when the individual is not competent yet so cannot refuse – ethical issue), but that children and even adults can be circumcised safely. Then he says some families “choose to defer circumcision until a child is older and can decide for himself” but he cautions these families that “circumcision later in life tends to be more emotionally scarring“. Interesting that he cautions families AGAINST respecting the individual’s  bodily autonomy. Did he even consider what he was writing?

The third “myth” is that circumcision can damage the penis. His first sentence is that “circumcisions can go bad, but they very rarely do“. But since they do, then myth has not been dispelled. How many lives does your child has? How many penises can he afford to lose? There are frequent case reports of partial and total amputations. Unsightly scarring, skin bridges, loss of too much tissue, re-circumcisions, all these happen and frequently. Dr. Chin then provides us with an optimistic rate of complications of “fewer than half percent of newborn circumcisions” developing complications. Well, 0.5% applied to 1.2 million newborn circumcisions in the United States every year amounts to 6,000 babies experiencing complications from a surgery that they didn’t need. I wouldn’t qualify that number as small. At least 2 or 3 die each year, per official estimates – some estimate a lot more. Imagine a room large enough to host 6,000 babies with complications from their circumcision.

One of the most common complications is meatal stenosis, and this is not even factored into that “half percent“.

He says that circumcision is “safe, inexpensive and relatively simple” and that it can “protect individual health, alleviate collective suffering and curb health care costs reducing the number of preventable infections“. What about the preventable complications? The preventable deaths? What is the cost of 1.2 million circumcisions? What is the cost of providing proper sexual education? What is the cost of treating 6,000 baby boys with complications, some requiring transfussions, some requiring additional surgeries…

What about the cost of violating the bodily autonomy and genital integrity of 1.2 million baby boys every year?

Jonathon Conte’s vanishing obituary

On May 9th, our friend, intactivist Jonathon Conte committed suicide. While I tried, I couldn’t bring myself to post here. I paid my respects privately and silently.

Last week we became aware that the Tampa Bay Times had published an obituary – including a guestbook. Many noticed that the obituary made no mention of Jonathon’s selfless work in pro of the rights of children – or of his surviving partner.

Jonathon Conte's obituary on the Tampa Bay Times

Jonathon Conte’s obituary on the Tampa Bay Times

Many comments were added to the guestbook- including one that I submitted. One intactivist paid a fee to keep the obituary active.

Today we learn that the obituary – and all comments- have suddenly vanished.

The link to the obituary page returns a 404 error (not found), and the link to the guestbook returns a 200 error.

The guestbook was originally set to be online until 7/3/2016 – before an intactivist paid to make it permanent. So why was it deleted? Who is censoring Jonathon’s work past his death?

Jonathon Conte's obituary guestbook

 

Animal testing versus… human animal testing. The profits of circumcision!

The other day I ran into an article by David “Avocado” Wolfe from the Body Mind Institute, about cosmetic companies that still use animal testing. I’ve always found animal testing horrific, barbaric, but I try not to get too much into animal rights activism because if something completely breaks my heart, it is to see animals suffering. And you are reading this from someone who loathes to see babies and children suffering because of medical abuse.

animal-testing-FI-759x419So, anyway, I read the article, and it was interesting. And then I found something I expected to find:

Animal testing is an incredibly outdated method that should replaced by more modern methods such as the Institute for In Vitro Sciences’ in vitro process.”

Hmm… that was a key. So I went to search for this Institute. I found their website, and then I ran a number of searches, until I ran into one document called “Evaluation of the Validated In Vitro Skin Irritation Test (OECD TG 439) for the Assignment ”. This document described a test using a trademarked product, EpiDerm.

Some more poking around and I found a product page for EpiDerm,  ”a ready-to-use, highly differentiated 3D tissue model consisting of normal, human-derived epidermal keratinocytes (NHEK) cultured on specially prepared tissue culture inserts“.

Epidermal keratinocytes… We are close. I pressed the Specs tab, and learned more about EpiDerm:

8482tnCells
Type: Normal human epidermal keratinocytes (NHEK)
Genetic make-up: Single donor
Derived from: Neonatal-foreskin tissue (NHEK)
Alternatives: NHEK from adult breast skin
Screened for: HIV, Hepatitis-B, Hepatitis-C, mycoplasma

The Institute for In Vitro sciences’ website includes an Outreach section, with a page dedicated to the Animal Protection Community. It starts by saying that “The activities of the animal protection community have had a significant role in driving the search for valid non-animal methods“, but is it really a non-animal method one that depends on the amputation of genital tissue from human babies? Is it any more humane?

Are PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, and the other listed “animal protection outreach partners” aware of the use of genital tissue removed from American babies in this “non-animal method“? Or are they so culturally ingrained in the rite of circumcision that they no longer see it as a cruel action?

So you see folks? While the intention of protecting animals from animal testing is very valuable, doing it by using harvested genital tissue forcefully amputated from non-consenting individuals (who are not yet competent to provide informed consent, but will eventually be)  is simply not the ethical way to do it.

How often do you hear that your baby’s foreskin is going to be used to test the creams and cosmetics that you are going to apply to your face later? How does it feel to feed the machine and treat our children as little more than guinea pigs? Why have we allowed the biomedical industry to turn our children’s genitals into a commodity for the cosmetic industry?

If we want humane alternatives to animal testing, they cannot be based on human genital tissue obtained from non-consenting “donors“.

Update on the Frank Wolf Int’l Religious Freedom Act (HR 1150)

It is important to clarify that HR 1150 is not a law yet. It has been approved in the House of Representatives, now it moves to the Senate.

Please contact your senator this week and express your concern. Religious freedom does not apply to another person’s body.

You can find the contact information for your state senators here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm