How medical staff pushes unnecessary circumcisions

The AAP on its “technical report” on circumcision writes:

“Parents should weigh the health benefits and risks in light of their own religious, cultural, and personal preferences, as the medical benefits alone may not outweigh these other considerations for individual families.”

While the purpose of this sentence is to indicate that some people may choose to circumcise for religious and cultural reasons, it also means that parents should be entitled to make a negative decision in the light of their own experience (cultural, religious, medical, preference or otherwise). Which is why it is disturbing when hospitals and medical staff blatantly ignore negative decisions and reiterate their request over and over, in what amounts to solicitation of an elective surgical procedure.

The following review was posted on Lexingon Medical Center’s facebook page on March 18th of 2015. (Name, profile picture and other details blurred for privacy).

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According to the American Medical Association, AMA:

Physicians should not provide, prescribe, or seek compensation for medical services that they know are unnecessary

This compulsion to circumcise has sometimes resulted in “wrongful” circumcisions – circumcisions that were not consented by the parents, and which should amount to bodily harm.

One such “wrongful circumcision” occurred in 2010 in Miami. Another one in Indiana, 2003, had a jury find no harm to the boy, after a lawyer argued that “an award of (…) in damages to the boy would “open the courthouse door to every kid who’s been circumcised.””.

Imagine if it was any part other than the foreskin. You know your son does not need to have a finger amputated. You leave your child for a moment in the care of medical staff, and when they return the baby to you, the finger has been amputated. How do you react to that?

For people who are from non-circumcising cultures, or who oppose circumcision, it doesn’t matter if, as the Miami hospital said back then, “the procedure itself was performed following appropriate surgical guidelines“. What matters is that it was done or offered at all, that there was the intention or the fact of removing part of a child’s penis. It matters that the child now has a wound and is missing part of his normal anatomy.

A mother we recently talked with, was enraged that her ethical opposition to circumcision became reflected on her son’s medical history after she questioned a facility to find out if they performed circumcisions. See scan from the medical history:

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The person who wrote this on the history would like to think that the CDC and the AAP “recommend” circumcision. These two organizations in fact argue for the benefits, but do not “recommend” the procedure as a routine, leaving the decision to the parents. A decision that activists argue does not belong to the parents because there is no medical urgency, most potential “benefits” can be obtained by less invasive ways without surgery, and the marks and scarring of circumcision last a lifetime regardless of the preference and feelings of the person who should really be concerned about it, the child, when he obtains the age and maturity to provide his own informed consent.

At circumcision protests, there is usually a blame game. Pediatricians argue that most circumcisions are performed by OB/Gyns, yet it was the AAP (pediatricians) who came with the 2012 policy statement on circumcision. OB/Gyns argue that they do it because the parents request it. But what we hear from parents is different. We see a picture where the medical establishment is interested in continuing to push the procedure. Whether this is done by the establishment per se, or by the staff as a result of their own personal bias, is not always clear. We will soon show some of the problems with circumcision consent forms. In the meantime, here’s an intactivist meme that clearly reflects this problem:

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