To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise?

StephenMitchell Flickr/cc license

That is the question.

But when I gave birth to my son almost two years ago, I really didn’t even think about it. I just assumed this is what you do with boys, wasn’t really told otherwise by the hospital or doctors as far as my “options” were concerned, didn’t think to look into it myself as I assumed it was just “normal,” and had him circumcised. It was basically a non-issue for us.

What I didn’t know was that over the past few years, the topic of circumcision has been widely debated and opinions on the subject, well, they are a-changing.

While studies from reputable sources like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other pediatric journals show a slight decrease in urinary tract infections among male infants who have been circumcised and that circumcision reduces a male’s chance of contracting STDs by more than half, the number of male infants being circumcised in the U.S. is dropping every year, and some even suggest circumcised males will soon become the minority in our culture.

To be honest, those concerns never even crossed my mind, and if I ever have another boy, I would do it again. For years it was thought that circumcision was cleaner, healthier, more sanitary for the child.  Now, especially considering the AAP has made a neutral statement regarding the issue, citing that while there are some health benefits associated with the surgery, the procedure is not medically essential, I think the issue is more of a personal one than anything else.

And personally, this is what I think.

Whether it be your religious views, your upbringing, or where you stand within the medical arena regarding the subject, parents should be the ones to decide what is best for their child — isn’t that what parents are for, after all? While some say it is a medically unessential procedure and just puts the child through unneeded pain and surgery, how many men today remember what their circumcisions felt like at just a few days old? Not to say the pain is not important because it won’t be remembered in the long-term, but centuries of men have been undergoing this procedure and go on to live, normal, happy lives.  To suggest the procedure causes any long-term trauma for the child is, in my opinion, just a tad far-fetched.

While not as drastic, and obviously not a medical procedure, should we begin banning ear piercing for little girls until they are of age to decide what they want to do, to save them from the pain? A parent’s job is to make decisions on behalf of their minor children in their best interests, and until medicine can prove that circumcisions are more harmful than helpful, and not just maintain a “neutral” position on the subject, it is the parents who will continue to decide the fate of their sons, and their foreskins.

This post comes to us from guest contributor and mother of two, Laura Savio.

12 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. THIS posted on an eco/green living site? Wow. Circumcision says “I have no trust in either nature or my son.”

    “Until until medicine can prove that circumcisions are more harmful than helpful?”

    That is the opposite of what medicine claims to stand for. Does the author mean until AMERICAN doctors acknowledge what most of the world knows? Circumcision NEVER passed the rigors of experimental testing. It was adopted as an anti-masturbation measure, then a flood of other claims of benefit were made.

    This is completely unethical. If the same standards for any other body part are applied to the infant penis. In general terms, there must be a diagnosis of disease, injury or malformation for which correction is IMPERATIVE. Then all less invasive therapies must be attempted. Then, only if these have failed would amputation be considered, and even then, the attempt should be made to preserve as much tissue and function as possible.

  2. You Laura Savio, are sadly one misinformed momma. Cuts Std’s in half? Where are you getting your facts from. Last I checked safe sex is how stds are prevented and if you think because you circumcised your son and he doesn’t use a condom with a partner that has an std he only has a 50% chance of catching it, that is just poor judgement. In no way, shape or form is having a defenless infant strapped down to a circumstrait and have his most sensitive part of his penis skinned, clamped, and cut off the right thing to do. Geez, just because its been done for hundreds of years doesn’t make it right. If you had really done any reasearch before writing this bologna you would have seen that its not even done the same and started as a way of preventing masturbation. Thousands of men are restoring what their parents took away from them thinking they were doing what’s best. Cosmetically altering your son at birth is not what’s best for him my no means AT ALL. Open your eyes please and learn the truth.

  3. [quote]While not as drastic, and obviously not a medical procedure, should we begin banning ear piercing for little girls until they are of age to decide what they want to do, to save them from the pain?[/quote]

    Yes, we should. What’s with this obsession some parents have about unnecessary body modification for their children? It’s barbaric and unethical.


    [quote]A parent’s job is to make decisions on behalf of their minor children in their best interests,[/quote]

    That doesn’t include cutting off healthy parts of their body. Is there any other part of your child’s body you would cut off without immediate medical cause? No, there is not. His penis is no different.


    [quote]and until medicine can prove that circumcisions are more harmful than helpful, and not just maintain a “neutral” position on the subject, it is the parents who will continue to decide the fate of their sons, and their foreskins.[/quote]

    Why should medicine HAVE to prove any such thing? Common sense should be enough to tell people that there’s NO BENEFIT to cutting off healthy body parts from non-consenting human beings.

    Should medicine have to ‘prove’ the same thing about any cutting off any other body part? NO – because as human beings we should instinctively KNOW better!

    Good grief.

    This is why the practice needs to be banned for all cases of forced, non-therapeutic genital cutting … not just for girls, but boys too.

    Sometimes children need protection even from their own parents.

  4. Forced surgery on anyone is abuse. Cutting healthy, erogenous tissue from a child who cannot understand or consent is abuse. Circumcision forced upon children is child abuse, part of a rape culture. Get informed and speak out to end this disgusting child abuse!

  5. Clearly you have gotten a lot of backlash for writing this. I find it sad that your view has been skewed by the big business of circumcision, they really have you right in their hands.

    I have a daughter that I prayed would be a daughter because I was not strong enough in my convictions against circumcision to stand up and fight for not having it done. By the time my son was born, 8 and a half months ago, I had te knowledge and fight in me to fight for his penis to remain intact and all decisions about it to remain his own.

    I do hope you can make different decisions in the future regarding any future sons. This is their body, rights, and sexual future we are talking about. No one cut your genitals, nor would you want them to, afford your children the same. Genital integrity for all.

  6. Everyone should have the right to their whole body. No parent should ever be allowed to choose cosmetic genital surgery for their child. Don’t want your child to get an std? Teach them to use protection. Don’t want them to have hygeine issues? Teach them to bathe properly. There is no health organization in the whole world that recommends routine infant circumcision- the AAP is not a health organization- they work and set guidelines for American paediatricians, you know, the ones who monetarily profit from circumcision?! Inform yourself, his body his choice!

  7. It’s a travesty that American parents know so little about foreskin, that they deem it their right to decide whether or not their son gets to keep it. They know so little about the 16+ functions – all invaluable for the owner of the penis and any future sexual partners – that they only focus on the infinitely tiny chance of something bad happening to that body part down the line; most of which would never require amputation. As if the 80+% of men the world over, with their natural, whole penises, are doomed to have it self destruct some day. How do these parents think the human race endured, with all of the supposedly faulty foreskins, for thousands of years before circumcision was invented? Even then, the original circumcision was only the very end of the foreskin, not the complete removal of the organ. All I can do is shake my head at the power of cultural blinders.

    To remove the foreskin of a female (just one form of fgm) would have far less severe consequences, and yet we rarely hear an American parent state that it should be a parents’ decision to make for their daughters. It wouldn’t force the entire internal genitals to become external, calloused, and dry. It wouldn’t remove the most sensitive tissue on her body. It wouldn’t drastically decrease her sexual pleasure, or that of her partner. All of this happens with the American version of routine male infant circumcision, but it’s a parents’ choice? No. It’s a gross violation of human rights. Leave the perfect babies the way they were born!

  8. If circumcision cuts STD’s “in half” then how come the U.S. has one of the highest rates of circumcised adult males and yet one of the highest STD rates in the world as well?

    Meanwhile European countries, where men are almost never circumcised, have one of the lowest STD rates worldwide.

    STD’s are controlled by condom use, not by cutting genitals.

  9. Laura Savio, it sounds like you don’t understand the importance of the foreskin. It is not an “extra flap” of skin. At birth, part of it is loose like a flap, but the rest of it is fused to the penile shaft. It is part of the penile shaft. In order to remove it, doctors don’t just “cut around,” but they must also slit the skin around the penis and then, using a sawing motion, skin this part off the organ. It is precisely like skinning a dead animal, except that the baby feels every bit of the experience. The baby’s heart rate races, his cortisol levels shoot up, and he either screams or goes into neurogenic shock–it is a real-life nightmare for the infant. It seems immoral to me to cause an infant such suffering for a medically-unnecessary purpose. The child’s experience of life should be warm, comforting and loving, not excruciating.

    You are under the impression that a baby won’t remember what was done to him. However, one study showed that part of the baby’s brain alters, perhaps permanently, due to experiencing this torture. Babies who have been circumcised also show a stronger pain reaction to injections given months afterward.

    I can’t add any more right now, but I hope that you will check out better information about the subject than you have.

  10. You think parents should decide what kind of penis is best for the child? Why? Justify the interference. Justify why you think nature made a mistake and the penis needs part of it removed.

    How about the boy that owns the penis and the man he will grow up to be makes the decision for himself of what he wants cut off his penis, if anything?

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