Happy, Healthy and Whole
Circumcision has been in the news lately for a few reasons. The bill in San Fransisco that would prevent routine infant circumcision for example. As a parent, trying to navigate the internet for information can be overwhelming. There is so much data out there and whose facts do you trust? I decided to write this post after someone recently asked me why I chose to keep my sons intact. They wanted just a few of my top reasons. So this is it. It's our story, our reasons in no particular order. I want to say that while we have two sons, I will be using a daughter in some examples.
- Foreskin is normal. Funnily enough in our decision not to circumcise we didn't look around us. While I am very happy to live in the Northwest where circumcision rates are very low, where almost every single one of my boy's playmates are also intact I didn't care. The same reason why I think to circumcise because everyone else around you did is wrong. The reason here we left them intact is because foreskin is normal. Every single male born on this planet in the entire history of mankind was born with foreskin. It reminds me of the saying If God had wanted me to be born with foreskin, I would have been. Now if you believe in evolution or adaptation, notice that after all these thousands of years, males still are being born with foreskin. It must serve a purpose. And it does.
- Amputation on a minor is illegal as a first response to preventative health care. Doctors are not legally permitted to perform any surgery on a minor unless there is clear medical need and more conservative medical treatment has failed. So what gives? If I wanted the doctor to remove a daughters breast buds because of the risk of breast cancer, they can't do it. Even if her risk for breast cancer is higher than my son's risk for HIV or cancer. What about aesthetic reasons? Can a parent take their newborn baby in and request that they want the fingernails surgically removed because they prefer the look? No. Can I take a daughter in and have the doctor perform a surgery altering her vagina to look more like mine? No. I would be denied and most likely child protective services would be called. I would not remove any part of my daughters vagina for any of the reasons given for a benefit of male circumcision. And I would not remove any other part of my children's bodies for any of those same reasons. For my husband and I, the logic to circumcise for preventative health would encourage removal of body parts for any reason. Poor Bailey! You stubbed your toe! Here, let's get it removed so you can't ever stub it again.
- We're poor and lazy. Seriously. Most health insurances don't cover circumcision since no medical organization in world recommends routine infant circumcision. The going rate at my clinic is $300. We figure that if our boys want cosmetic surgery, they can pay for it themselves. The care for a newly circumcised infant penis is demanding. Check for bleeding, check for swelling, lubricating the raw area, making sure the ring doesn't fall off too early or doesn't fall off at all, giving pain medication. To care for an intact boy is simple. Wipe clean. That's it. Like most parents, my husband and I choose to spend as little time at the changing station as possible.
- It's a human rights issue. We are parents. We don't own their bodies. And it is our responsibility to make decisions for our children until they are old enough to make those decisions for themselves. But there is a big difference between choosing a surgery for cosmetic reasons and medical necessity. Remember, no medical organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision based on any reported health benefits. And we parents do make mistakes. Constantly. But there are very few decisions we make for our children that are as permanent as circumcision. Permanent. You cannot undo a circumcision. My husband and I strongly believe that our sons, and every child should be able to choose for themselves what their body should look like. If our sons choose to circumcise themselves as adults for any reason at all, I will fully support their decision. If you don't own your own body, what do you own?
- We thought ahead to the future. Again, we are lucky to live in an area of the United States where circumcision rates are low. And our sons were lucky to be born at a time where circumcision rates nationwide are dropping and pediatricians are speaking up against circumcision. Unlike their father, born in the 1980's were circumcision was performed on nearly every male child. When we first discussed circumcision as expecting parents, my husband asked his mother why she had him circumcised. The reasons were that it was thought beneficial and that it was normal. Now in the future, if we had circumcised our sons, what would we have said? Well, at the time that you were born, circumcision wasn't thought beneficial by any medical organization. And well, no it wasn't normal. In fact most of the boys being born that year were kept intact. You can see where this was going. What would we honestly say? It was the best decision for our family? It goes right back to the human rights issue.
Here are some of my favorite sites with lots of information.
Still unsure whether to circumcise?