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Circumcision - Male Genital Mutilation

Dr. Benjamin Spock, the most famous pediatrician in the world is against male circumcision


"Circumcision - It's Not Necessary"

BENJAMIN SPOCK, M.D., Redbook, April 1989

Dr. Spock now believes that circumcision of males is traumatic, painful, and of questionable value.

When a baby boy is circumcised, the sleeve of skin that normally covers the head of the penis (the foreskin) is pulled forward and cut off. Circumcision is usually performed without anesthesia a few days after birth - on the unproven assumption that babies will not remember the pain later, although they certainly cry out with pain at the time.

The practice of circumcision has been around for at least 4,000 years. It is traditionally practiced by Jews and Moslems. But around 100 years ago, it became a more widely accepted practice in this country for all infant boys, due to a new emphasis on cleanliness. In fact, when circumcision came into vogue, it was believed to cure all manner of ailments in boys. Today, of course, we know that this is not the case, but the practice has continued.

Approximately half of all male babies born in this country are still being circumcised. But doctors are questioning whether or not routine circumcision is necessary, given the pain the baby experiences, the risks involved in performing the procedure, and the questions being raised about whether circumcision actually prevents disease.

What I recommended to parents about circumcision in early editions of Baby and Child Care is quite different from what I recommend now. In the 1940s, I favored circumcision performed within a few days of birth for a couple of reasons. First, there was, at the time, a commonly held belief in medical circles that women married to uncircumcised men were more likely to develop cancer of the cervix. The second reason I favored routine circumcision was that if the operation were performed on a newborn, there would be no chance of a physician scaring the bejeebers out of a boy by performing the operation when he was older. I personally had known of several instances in which an uncircumcised boy had been brought into the family doctor because he had been holding onto his penis, which bothered the parents. The physician would then suggest that the area under the foreskin had perhaps become mildly infected, causing an irritation of the penis, and that the best treatment would be to cut off the foreskin, which was believed to be harboring the infection. But the psychological trauma of circumcising an older child cannot be overestimated.

Boys, especially between the ages of two and four, tend to become quite anxious about the safety of their penises: It is at this time that they usually become aware that little girls don't have a penis, and boys tend to assume that girls somehow lost theirs in an accident, or that it has been cut off. And so, when an older boy is circumcised, even though the body of the penis remains, the circumcision suggests to the child that an attempt has been made to cut his penis off and, in fact, the attempt has been partially successful. It is understandable, then, that a young boy would become deeply upset by the operation.

In the 1940s and 1950s circumcision became quite common. By the 1960s, 90 percent of all male newborns in the United States were being circumcised as routine procedure. Ten years later, however, opinion among doctors swung away from the belief that certain groups of women developed cancer of the cervix because their husbands were uncircumcised. It was concluded that the cause was actually lack of good male hygiene - which is not as much of a problem in this country as it is in some other parts of the world. Also, by the early 1970s, more physicians - though not all - were aware of the psychological harm that could come from circumcision after infancy, and circumcision of an older child was not suggested as frequently as in the past.

In 1971 a task force of the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that there is no medical reason to recommend routine circumcision, and I voiced the same opinion in the 1976 revision of Baby and Child Care. I hoped that the controversy would then be settled once and for all. But today, there are again some physicians who favor routine circumcision because they are of the opinion (not substantiated by solid scientific proof) that circumcision will decrease, at least to a small degree, the risk of contracting various venereal diseases in adulthood. But many physicians, myself included, are unconvinced.

One recent study did indicate that urinary tract infections in infancy, which is an uncommon disease in boys, does occur less frequently among circumcised boys, but this has not yet been confirmed by further studies. There is no doubt in medical circles that routine circumcision does prevent cancer of the penis, but this is a very rare disease which causes only approximately 150 deaths a year in the United States. Should one million baby boys be circumcised each year because of this small risk? Each parent must answer that question for him or herself.

In view of the renewed controversy regarding circumcision, the American Academy of Pediatrics has again appointed a task force to reconsider its position on routine circumcision, although no final decision has yet been reached.

Though the debate continues within the medical community, parents do have a few facts and various opinions on which to base their own decision on this matter. In earlier days many parents were not informed about what the issues were. The attending obstetrician or an intern or resident would appear at the mother's bedside a few days after delivery and say, ``Do you want the boy circumcised?'' or ``I suppose you want him to be circumcised,'' as if it were the only sensible choice.

We now know that it is not the only choice, nor is it agreed that it is the most sensible choice. My own preference, if I had the good fortune to have another son, would be to leave his little penis alone.

Dr. Spock, a contributing editor of Redbook, is the author of Baby and Child Care, which has sold Read More .. than 40 million copies.


Postscript Dr. Benjamin Spock, the most famous pediatrician in the world, passed away in 1998 at the age of 94.

Male Genital Mutilation (MGM) Circumcision - Baby Boy Botched

Circumcision Botched - Canadian Press

Circumcision Botched by Jewish Father Results in Conviction for Aggravated Assault

The Canadian Press
Dec. 22, 2011

VANCOUVER - A B.C. man who performed a botched circumcision on his four-year-old son on the kitchen floor of his home has lost an appeal of his conviction and been found guilty of a more serious charge.

The B.C. Court of Appeal has stayed the man's conviction for criminal negligence causing bodily harm and convicted him of aggravated assault.

Court heard the boy was born premature at only 2.5 pounds and could not be circumcised at the time, nor did his parents request it.

South Korean Doctors

Male circumcision based on myths and misinformation

Peak age of circumcision of males in Korea is 12 years old! Read More ..

Urinary Tract Infection Rates for Both Circumcised and Non-Circumcised Baby Boys Under 1 Year Old

UTIs are rare

Canadian Paediatric Society - Circumcision statement

"Of every 1,000 boys who are circumcised 2 will be admitted to hospital for a urinary tract infection (UTI) before they are one year old."

"Of every 1,000 boys who are not circumcised 7 will be admitted to hospital for a UTI before they are one year old. "

Société canadienne de pédiatrie - circoncis statement

Sur 1 000 garçons circoncis 2 seront hospitalisés en raison d'une infection urinaire avant l'âge d'un an.

Sur 1 000 garçons non circoncis 7 seront hospitalisés par suite d'une infection urinaire avant l'âge d'un an.


CanadianCRC editor:
Anyone who states that urinary tract infections are common among newborn baby boys, and therefore advocates that the genital mutilation of boys ( male circumcision) will stop urinary tract infections, is a liar or misinformed.

Besides, urinary tract infections are entirely treatable.

Men's Rights Commentary

Men's News Daily Online

Commentary on the David Reimer botched circumcision / gender changed case

When Feminist Dogma Met Dr. Mengele

CanadianCRC editor's Note: Reminder about our policy: Many sides of an issue are expressed in articles on this website. Many articles contain points of view which should be heard but are not the position of the Canadian Children's Rights Council.

"..Circumcision May CAUSE Urinary Tract Infection"

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are rare, and mainly occur in the first year of life. They are several times Read More .. common in girls than boys (but of course surgery is never considered for girls).

They are painful, and women's experience of them is a powerful inducement to have sons circumcised, if they imagine that this will protect them. In fact, a significant proportion of boys contract UTIs even though they are circumcised. A study in Israel found they mainly occurred in girls at four months, but in boys soon after they were circumcised....  Now an Australian study suggests circumcision may cause urinary problems.  Read More ..

Read what the medical profession associations have to say on this issue

2003 British Medical Association Statement Against Circumcision

The BMA does not believe that parental preference alone constitutes sufficient grounds for performing a surgical procedure on a child unable to express his own view. . . . Parental preference must be weighed in terms of the child's interests. . . . The BMA considers that the evidence concerning health benefit from non-therapeutic circumcision is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for doing it. . . . Some doctors may wish to not perform circumcisions for reasons of conscience. Doctors are under no obligation to comply with a request to circumcise a child.  Read More ..

Toronto Sun Circumcision of males unkindest cut

Circumcision, the unkindest cut

By Dr. Gifford Jones

Special to C-Health

Read More ..

Baby Dies From Circumcision

Five-week-old infant died after he was circumcised at Penticton hospital

THE PROVINCE
Vancouver, British Columbia
August 29, 2002

The Kamloops coroner is investigating the case of an infant who died last week from complications following his circumcision at Penticton Regional Hospital.

The five-week-old child was released after the procedure last Tuesday morning, but his parents went back to talk to the doctor later that day with concerns about bleeding. They returned home, but the situation worsened overnight, forcing them to rush the child back to hospital early Wednesday.

The infant was flown by air ambulance to Vancouver, where he died last Thursday in B.C. Children's Hospital.

"It certainly seems to be unusual," coroner Ian McKichan said yesterday. "It's definitely something that warrants an investigation, because it's a totally unexpected sort of death."

Deaths following circumcision are almost unheard of, but like any operation, bleeding and infection are the greatest dangers.

The case raises questions about an increasingly rare operation which stirs controversy in some circles.

"The bottom line is that circumcision is becoming a less-common procedure," said Dr. Morris Van Andel, registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. "It's no longer an insured service -- it's considered an option. That makes it all the Read More ..stressing when you hear about something like this."

According to Penticton hospital officials, the operation to remove the foreskin from the child's penis was conducted by a physician with 16 years' practice in British Columbia.