If you're unsure of circumcision for your sons, consider this
Men who are circumcised before their first sexual intercourse have a significantly lower risk for prostate cancer than do uncircumcised men or those who are circumcised after their first sexual encounter, according to an analysis of data on 3,399 men.
The finding of a 15% reduction in relative risk points to sexually transmitted infections and inflammation as possible risk factors for prostate cancer, the authors suggested in a study published online in the journal Cancer. [emphasis mine]
Vaccinations have risks, just like every medical procedure or drug. However, they have proven benefits - like preventing deadly disease - that clearly outweigh the risks. Most serious vaccine adverse reactions are very rare. Most common reactions are little more than inconveniences such as fussiness or fever for a day or two. Parents who vaccinate weigh these risks (which are clearly spelled out in the VIS every parent receives) against the benefits and decide that the possibility of harm from the disease is greater than the remote chance of harm from a vaccine. Vaccines are not "unneccessary" medical interventions in the way that circumcisions are, which, as I said, are often done for purely cosmetic or religious reasons. In this case, the risk of harm from the procedure is greater than the purported benefits. The proposed benefits of circumcision are nebulous at best; the possible future conditions it is said to prevent can be addressed far less intrusively by hygiene and safe sex practices. In my own medical opinion, the only ethically defensible surgeries that can be performed on an infant's penis are those that correct urinary obstruction and malformations that interfere with function.
I understand and respect your position. However, I have a huge problem when people start suggesting that parents are abusing their children or maliciously mutilating them. There isn't a consensus among the medical community and what's found online is difficult to wade through. For every anti-circ argument, there is a pro-circ argument that can be found. It can be very hard to know what the right thing to do is. I still don't know on what side of the issue I fall. I'm glad I don't have to make the choice again. Here is an article where medical opinion falls more on the side of pro-circ: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29777922/ I have seen circumcisions performed, too, and I have never seen what you described. The circ described in this article was my experience as well. Also interesting is at the end of the article a man who was circumcised at age 35, reports 7 years later that his sex life is better than it was before the circumcision. And, as an aside, I think it's hilarious that the doctor in this article is named "Dr. Wang." :)
I am not suggesting that parents opting for circumcision are knowingly or maliciously abusing their children. I am of the opinion that if parents knew exactly what it entails and truly understood the weak rationales for it, as well as the ethical implications, they most likely would not do it. My experience with circumcisions is recent, less than two years ago, and I assisted at circumcisions in two different facilities using different methods. The basic procedure is as I described, and takes about ten minutes from strapping down the infant to putting the diaper back on. It is true that most men suffer no lasting ill effects and of course don't remember it at all. My objection to it is the ethical problem of performing medically unnecessary (i.e., not life- or limb-saving) invasive procedures on a person who cannot give consent. Again, we do not perform prophylactic appendectomies on infants, even though the risk of future appendicitis is not statistically low, and appendicitis is a dangerous, painful and potentially deadly condition. If a man wants to have his foreskin removed in the belief that it will improve his sex life or prevent infection, that is his right as a consenting, fully-informed adult. BTW, there are men who have had their foreskins "restored" through a combination of stretching the residual skin and surgery, and report that sex is vastly improved for them. Sexual pleasure is subjective and not a rationale for invasive surgery on newborn. I no longer participate in circumcisions, nor do I recommend it. As an RN, my duty is to advocate for the patient and to protect his or her rights. The ethical principles of autonomy, benevolence, justice, and veracity in medicine include the right of the patient to bodily integrity and expectation of freedom from harm. In this light, I consider circumcision to be an assault on these rights. More and more healthcare providers are taking the same view, and, as I have said, most hospitals and many pediatricians no longer recommend it or perform it.
"However, I have a huge problem when people start suggesting that parents are abusing their children or maliciously mutilating them."
Do you feel the same way about female circumcision?
Do you also have a huge problem that people start suggesting that female circumsion is mutilation and abuse?
There is clearly a difference in how big the abuse and mutilation is. Female genital mutilation is far worse. Both in terms of pain, medical complications, psychological harm and as a tool to oppress sexuality and personal integrity. Female circumsion is far far worse.
But they are both violations of the child and unacceptable.
An equivalent question would be "do you reject slavery by brutal slave masters and accept it with kind and caring slave masters or do you reject slavery under all circumstances?"
Did we have an movement to abolish slavery or an movement to define acceptable forms of slavery?
I don't think it's reasonable to call the genital mutilation of girls circumcision at all. Removal of the clitoris entirely is like removal of the entire penis, in terms of sexual feeling and anatomical equivalence. Other than the fact that women can still reproduce, it's castration in terms of their sexuality. Some cultures just don't want women to enjoy sex. Imagine a female dominant culture in which little boys routinely had their penises removed so they wouldn't be tempted by sexual pleasure. Unthinkable? No, just the mirror of contemporary practice in many places today.
As far as I'm concerned using the term "female circumcision" instead of "female genital mutilation" makes one an enabler of this heinous practice. If only the foreskin of the clitoris were removed, it would be female circumcision.
This is a classic straw man argument. The two aren't even comparable. Aside from what the others have pointed out already, the cultural reasons why these two procedures are performed are immensely different.
You are stating your personal opinion on circumcision as if it is fact. There are many people very educated on the topic who disagree with your opinion.
The two are most definitely comparable. There are many different kinds of male and female genital mutilation. Type 1a and 2a and Type 4 female mutilations are less severe than the average male circumcision. Many circumcised women claim to experience sexual pleasure and some circumcised men have their entire sex lives destroyed by botched jobs.
Both male and female genital mutilation are performed out of fear and for anti-sexual reasons. Secular circumcision of boys began in the 19th century as a way to cure and curb masturbation and to inhibit and reduce sexual excitement.
If you want to compare the damage of male circumcision to female circumcision then you must look at individual cases because there is wide variation in the types of circumcision and their results on sexuality.
The day that you are ready to have your prepuce excised or to excise the prepuce of your daughters is the day that I will consider your opinions of excision of the male prepuce as having possible validity.
I submit that you circumcised your son and this is why you are, in a round-about way, trying to defend circumcision.
Kara, I have suggested a way to permanently expose the glans of the penis WITHOUT surgery...when the foreskin is ABLE to be retracted, simply keeping the foreskin in a retracted state with tape or cloth will allow the foreskin to eventually remain retracted. I AM a male witness to attest to the FACT that this is possible. I do not need to have a medical degree to tell you. If, as you believe, there is a good reason for keeping the glans uncovered, the INTELLIGENT procedure would be bloodless, painless, WITHOUT trauma, WITHOUT mutilation, WITHOUT infection and WITH the full consent of the person. The false witness here is, in fact, surgical removal.
No consensus among the medical community? I suppose that is why the vast majority of doctors in the world don't practice RIC? No national medical organisation in the world recommends RIC, although some condemn it. It is banned in some places. Circumcision (genital mutilation) only even entered into "medicine" during the prudish Victorian era to cure and curb masturbation.
Any good intactivist site will give you the basics of why you should leave your boys intact. The basic reasons are (1) If it ain't broke, don't fix it, and (2) It's not your penis. The foreskin is there for a reason and has functions. If a male wants to cut off part of his penis at the age of maturity then he has that right, but we are not going to cut off healthy normal parts from our babies. We don't do it to girls and we should not be doing it to boys.
When in doubt, err on the side of compassion. In this case compassion dictates not exposing your baby to unnecessary risk, harm, pain, trauma, and loss. If he wants to be circumcised at a later stage then he can be.
Some men circumcised as adults report little or no difference and some report a lot of difference, either positive or negative. One must consider the context. The fact that you refer to one man who claims a better sex life post circumcision just shows which side of the issue you are really on.
And you cite an article from the American media? We all know that the majority of the American media are mouthpieces for special interests, including the pro-circumcision lobby. The USA is the last country to circumcise a majority of its male infants for non-religious reasons. And many people are still clinging very tightly to this barbaric custom because they don't want to admit they made a terrible mistake or that they have personally lost anything valuable.
Yes, Dr. Wang and Dr. Johnson. Hilarious. I can't find the compulsory mutilation of the genitals of children a subject for humour in this way or flippancy in this way.
Try to be objective and think to yourself: if you are unwilling to cut off your daughter's prepuce (or your own) then why your son's prepuce? Surely it is there for a reason. Have you researched the functions of the foreskin? Surely this should be a decision left up to the owner of the penis. Surely.
Anthony, apparently I have lost Ms Kara with my last comment, so what is your opinion of my reply to her concerning the aforementioned benign procedure?
I think it is silly. I'm aware that a small minority of males do this, usually intact males in circumcising cultures who do not want to get circumcised but have been made to erroneously believe it is healthy to keep the glans exposed.
The glans is an internal organ. It is not meant to be permanently exposed, even as the eyes and tongue are not meant to be permanently exposed.
If a man wants to get circumcised or do what you suggested or anything else to his own body then that is his choice. But altering the genitals of children is a very ignorant and anti-sexual practice that no sane person can abide. It is always done out of fear and has nothing to do with health, hygiene, or medicine. If it did then it would logically apply to females as well. But in that case it should be a decision left up to the owner and operator of the organs.