Category Archives: ACOG

Mary Jane Minkin, MD, FACOG, stigmatizes men and pathologizes a normal body part

In an interview in 2Dun’s Spread, Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, FACOG, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale School of Medicine and staff member at Obstetrics Gynecology & Menopause Physicians, violates the ethical principle of justice by stigmatizing 70% of the males in the world, those who are not circumcised, and by pathologizing a normal body part, the foreskin, in what only can be interpreted as blatant cultural prejudice.

This starts with the media circus around the CDC proposed guidelines, of which we spoke on our previous post. The Background document by the CDC also warned (page 40):

“Furthermore, recommendations to increase rates of male circumcision in the U.S. to reduce male acquisition of heterosexually acquired HIV infection may result in stigmatization of uncircumcised men or groups of men who are not routinely circumcised should they choose to not undergo circumcision.” ~ CDC

And Dr. Minkin gives us a clear example of what that meant.

Asked by 2Dun whether “doing the deed with an uncircumcised man puts you at a higher risk for contracting an STI?“, Dr. Minkin replies: ”To be exact, yes, if uncircumcised men are more likely to get infected with [an STD], then they’d be more likely to transmit“.

Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., FACOG, stigmatizes normal men

Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., FACOG, stigmatizes normal men

Dr. Minkin tells us two lies in this statement, first, that the mere presence of foreskin makes a man more likely to get infected, and second that the mere presence of foreskin makes a man more likely to transmit an infection.

But some readers will say, “the science is sound”. What the readers are forgetting, what the AAP and the CDC often would like people to forget, is that adult individuals can make lifestyle choices. Humans have a capability to make rational decisions, we are not bound by uncontrollable instincts, we can make decisions about whether to have sex or not, whether to engage in safe sex or not, whether to have multiple sex partners or follow a more monogamous lifestyle, and all those decisions are not reflected in the presence or absence of a normal part of the body.

A high risk male has a larger chance of contracting STIs than a low risk individual, regardless of their circumcision status. The risk attitude has far more priority on the chance of contracting sexually transmitted diseases than submission to circumcision.

If the presence of foreskin immediately implied a higher prevalence of HIV and STIs, how can we explain that most countries in Latin America and Europe, where circumcision is uncommon, have a lower prevalence of HIV than U.S., where circumcision rates are prevalent?

Dr. Minkin’s second implication, that uncircumcised males would be more likely to transmit an STI, is again fallacious and stigmatizing. Infected males will transmit infection no matter what, as the virus pollutes the sperm. The presence or absence of foreskin does not alter the composition and presence or absence of virus in sperm.

Dr. Minkin then re-states her lie: “The data is certainly suggestive that circumcised males are at less risk of acquiring—and then transmitting—certain STDs” and then says the only fully true statement:”but not to the point of saying it’s okay to not use a condom.”

All sexually active adolescent and adult males should continue to use other proven HIV and STI risk-reduction strategies such as reducing the number of partners, and correct and consistent use of male latex condoms, and HIV preexposure or postexposure prophylaxis among others. ” – Recommendation #2 in the proposed CDC guidelines

It is sad and corrupt when doctors and university professors, particularly in such a prestigious university, abuse their positions to pass cultural prejudice and false beliefs as science, stigmatizing in the process the vast majority of males in the world and demonizing a normal part of the body. It is simply shameful.

We recommend that Dr. Minkin takes the time to read the full Background document and review those good old ethical principles.

P.D., would it be a surprise that Dr. Minkin is originally from New Jersey, an area with high prevalence of circumcision? And why is a doctor who is “interested in all aspects of women’s health, she has a special interest in menopause” speaking about men’s health? Does she teach her students based on her beliefs on circumcision – or in real science?

Dr. Minkin, you had a chance to educate the public on the importance of safe sex and risk management, but you wasted it to promote a social surgery. We are so disappointed.

Does your OB/Gyn require a “circumcision deposit”?

Does your OB/Gyn require a “circumcision deposit”?

We were alerted about this (apparently not so new) trend, by a post on The Whole Network:

Fan Question: I am pregnant with my second child and my regular OB (who delivered my daughter) started a new policy that forces patients to pay a “circ deposit” before their first prenatal visit. Apparently this is a growing trend among doctors.. Whether or not you are having a boy or if you want to keep him intact you have to pay and if you don’t use it the money will be refunded after you are discharged from the hospital. I tried fighting it but they told me it won’t be done unless I sign a consent form at the hospital. Since it is a new policy I am worried that the staff at the hospital will see that I paid and do it anyway assuming I wanted it done. I just found out that I am having a boy so I need to decide what to do now. Even though they are promising that I will have a say in the end, it makes me really uncomfortable and I’m not sure how safe my son will really be. I am thinking about switching to a new OB over this but I have medicaid so my options are limited. Would it be worth switching over? I am also not sure how to find an intact friendly OB so i was wondering if you could help point me in the right direction. I didn’t search for a doctor with my daughter because he was my regular GYN. I’m in Melbourne FL. There are no birthing centers around here..

But a quick search for “circumcision deposit” allowed us to find that this has been reported at least since 2009, with questions about the legality and ethical value of this practice. It is likely that this practice will increase as Medicare stops funding newborn circumcision in more states. In this particular case, the original poster is located in Florida, where newborn circumcisions are not covered.

More reports here, here.

Some relevant comments:

I would change doctors immediately, if that is an option.  I would worry that my paying a deposit would be construed as consenting to circumcision and would be afraid that it would be done without my knowledge.

I wonder how many mothers assume they don’t have a choice in the matter because they have to pay for it anyway!

The fact that parents who express their refusal to circumcise, and parents who are expecting girls, are being forced to pay this “deposit”  - even if it’s refunded later or applied to other outstanding balances- is outrageous. This is nothing but a way to reinforce the status quo of newborn circumcision, making it look like the default treatment is circumcision, effectively pushing it onto families from non-circumcising cultures. Forget the multiculturalism, forget the respect for the parents and the child. It’s all about collecting that fee and cutting that foreskin.

Circleaks is interested in exposing this practice and helping bring it to an end. But in order to do so we need your help. Please, help us identify entities and doctors with these policies. Your personal information will be strictly confidential.

Please email circleaks {at} gmail.com