It has come to our attention that during the AAP meeting in last October, Dr. Douglas Diekema received the Bartholome Award for ethical excellence.
Doug Diekema is member of the 2012 AAP Task Force on circumcision. On an interview in 2012, prior to the release of the Policy Statement, Diekema dismissed bodily autonomy in a statement to the Broward Palm Beach New Times: “[Circumcision] does carry some risk and does involve the loss of the foreskin, which some men are angry about. But it does have medical benefit. Not everyone would trade that foreskin for that medical benefit. Parents ought to be the decisionmakers here. They should be fully informed.”
Even more, a year after the release of the Policy Statement, during a debate with Steven Svoboda from Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, Diekema and fellow task force member Dr. Brady failed to describe any functions of the foreskin (Brady said “I don’t think anybody knows the function of the foreskin, nobody knows the function of the foreskin” – see page 8 of PDF file at the link), only to have the answer from a layman who has a foreskin. Of course their arrogance prevented them from listening to the young intact (“uncircumcised”) man.
But male cutting is not enough for Diekema, who in fact supported the failed 2010 AAP policy statement on “ritual genital cutting of female minors“. Diekema defended the “ritual nick” telling the Sydney Morning Herald 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”
But external genitalia seems to be not enough for Mr. Diekema, who was part of the committee that gave clearance to the “Ashley treatment” in 2004, a treatment to stunt the growth of a severely disabled girl, remove her breast buds (so she wouldn’t grow breasts), remove her reproductive organs (hysterectomy, so she wouldn’t have menstruation) and removed her appendix (since they had her open already, why not?). The Ashley treatment was later deemed to be illegal without a court order, but nobody was made responsible for it. Diekema’s partner in the committee, Daniel Gunther, committed suicide shortly afterwards for unknown reasons.
But apparently genitals of males and females are not enough. Diekema was a witness in support of an Oregon city couple whose adolescent son Neil died of renal disease without medical treatment, partially because they were part of a congregation that favors faith healing over medical treatment. Diekema said: “Neil had a faith, and his faith was important to him, I don’t know if it determined his decision.”
And perhaps this is part of the key to understanding Diekema. Religion. As Diekema himself said in an interview: “one of the skills I’ve had to learn is that if I do arrive at a decision about what I think is the right thing to do and my reasons for believing that are related to my religious beliefs, I have to be able to craft secular arguments to support that view. 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“.
Is this really a man whose ethical values should be celebrated? Is this a man who speaks for children, who protects children? Is he dedicated “to the health of all children“, as the motto of the AAP says? We believe this man to be dangerous and an embarrassment to modern medicine, someone who belongs in the 19th Century, not in the 21st Century.
More data on CircLeaks
Dr Diekema (in blue shirt) lowers his eyes after seeing the “bloodstained” protesters outside the Orlando convention center in October of 2013. This happened just a few weeks after his embarrassing defeat in the debate against Steven Svoboda and the Attorneys for the Rights of the Child.