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Toronto Sun

Debate continues over circumcision

Activists call for end to procedure

Toronto Sun, BY MARILYN LINTON, July 6, 1998

Non-religious male circumcision is a useless procedure that's an invasion of a child's rights, say people in the controversial anti-circumcision movement that is growing in North America.

While Canada's circumcision rate is much lower than in the U.S. -- where a baby boy is circumcised every 30 seconds -- circumcision here is still an issue, says Montreal's John Antonopoulos, president of The Circumcision Information Resource Centre (which can be reached at 514-844-CIRC or via their Web site at > ).

In Canada, almost half of all male infants were circumcised 25 years ago. Today, says Antonopoulos, the rate is more like 23%.

"The trend towards fewer circumcisions is noteworthy," he says. "But 23% is still an issue. There is a lot more education that has to be done."

Dr. Roland Beaulieu, chair of the Ontario Medical Association's Section of Paediatrics, says The Canadian Paediatric Society's position is there are no valid medical reasons to justify a universal practice.

Although either an injected or topical anaesthetic is now recommended for the procedure, it's Beaulieu's view that there is no painless method short of general anaesthetic. "And that would be far too risky for a newborn to undergo."

He says the operation -- now delisted and costing parents from $80 to $180 depending on whether it's done in a doctor's office or a hospital -- is not something most physicians advocate. But in cities such as Montreal or Toronto, where there are different cultural and religious groups who believe in routine circumcision, physicians often support parents in their decisions, Beaulieu says.

'Sexual mutilation'

Miriam Pollack, a California activist who considers herself a committed Jew, came out against circumcision after having her two sons circumcised 16 and 20 years ago. She says she switched from being pro-circumcision to anti when her second child "screamed as if he were being slaughtered." She now feels so strongly about the subject that she calls circumcision "sexual mutilation."

According to Pollack, the contention that the procedure is no Read More ..rrowing than an inoculation is not true. And she does not empathize with parents who say they support circumcision because they want their male children's penises to look the same as their father's.

"Do we chop off a baby's finger so he looks like the father who is missing a finger?" she asks.

But John Antonopoulos doesn't address the issue of religious circumcision. He says 90% of circumcisions are not religious-based. He believes parents are basing their decision on old information, that assumed circumcised males have fewer urinary tract infections, less penile cancers, and protect their female partners from cervical cancers and themselves from prostate cancers.

"Most of the information propagated was inaccurate," says Dr. Robert Van Howe, a Wisconsin paediatrician who was asked by the American Academy of Paediatrics to research the issue. (The American Medical Association is expected to release its circumcision report later this year.)

"Although doctors say it's up to the parent to make the decision, modern ethics say the parent should make the decision in their child's best interest," says Dr. George Denniston, president of the U.S.- based Doctors Opposing Circumcision. "We don't oppose circumcision done at an age where the person is giving his full informed consent."

Reader feedback

The largest anti-circumcision Web site is found at where the Circumcision Information and Resource Pages include a medical and historical library, statistics, information on children's rights, a guide to the anatomy of the penis, reader feedback and a section on foreskin restoration -- a method employed by some circumcised men in an effort to stretch the skin of the penis so it eventually grows to cover the tip of the penis.

Men such as Norm Cohen, director of Michigan's No Circ network of anti-circumcision activists, says his organization distributes pamphlets to health-care providers, advertises at baby fairs and sends men out to speak on the issue. Like many anti-circ crusaders he believes circumcision makes the penis less sensitive because foreskin is erogenous tissue.

Cohen, originally circumcised, calls circumcision "medical quackery. It has no basis for medicine at all. If you look at it that way it's easy to say that we just don't need it any ."

But John Antonopoulos, whose Web site includes information for parents on how to care for a foreskin, says it's time everybody examined the issue a little more closely.

"The notion of circumcision being a good thing is founded on the notion of the foreskin being a vile thing." Not true, Antonopoulos says, explaining that the foreskin is protective and sensorial: "The penis, mechanically speaking, is a feat of engineering."

Pediatricians turn away from circumcision

The United States is the only country that routinely circumcises baby boys for non-religious reasons

March 1, 1999

ATLANTA (CNN) -- American pediatricians are turning away from the practice of routine circumcision, concluding that doctors have no good medical reason to perform the procedure.

The United States is the only country in the world that routinely removes the foreskins of infant boys. Critics of circumcision got additional ammunition Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics, a leading medical organization.

The academy concluded the benefits "are not compelling enough" for circumcision to be routinely administered.

baby screaming in pain

A newborn winces in pain after a circumcision

Monday's statement, published in the March edition of the journal Pediatrics, was the academy's first in 10 years on the practice. But in recent years, medical societies in Canada, Britain and Australia have come out in opposition to routine circumcision.

Critics have long contended that removing the foreskin from the penis is traumatic, medically unnecessary and may reduce sexual pleasure later in life. As one critic, Dr. George Denniston, put it: "Who are we to question mother nature?"

Canadian researchers, whose study was published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, studied the heart rates and crying patterns of babies during different stages of circumcision.

In fact, in the study they found the babies suffered so much trauma that they stopped the study part way through.

The results were so compelling that they took the unusual step of stopping the study before it was scheduled to end rather than subjecting any Read More ..bies to circumcision.

One baby stopped breathing for 25 seconds from the trauma of having part of his foreskin severed.  Read More ..

Toronto Sun logo

Male Circumcision, the unkindest cut

By Dr. Gifford Jones

Special to C-Health

Read More ..

Baby Died from Herpes Transmitted by Rabbi During Ritual Genital Mutilation

ABC News USA - Spanking children Leads to aggression

Baby Dies of Herpes in Ritual Circumcision By Orthodox Jews

ABC News, U.S.A., by Susan Donaldson James, March 12, 2012

New York City is investigating the death last September of a baby who contracted herpes after a "ritual circumcision with oral suction," in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish ceremony known in Hebrew as metzitzah b'peh.

The district attorney's office in Kings County Brooklyn is investigating the death of the 2-week-old baby at Maimonides Hospital, but would not disclose the name of the mohel or whether there would be a prosecution.

The 5,000-year-old religious practice is seen primarily in ultra-Orthodox and some orthodox communities and has caused an alarm among city health officials. In 2003 and 2004, three babies, including a set of twins, were infected with Type 1 herpes; the cases were linked to circumcision, and one boy died.

The mohel who performed the procedures, Yitzchok Fischer, was later banned from doing circumcisions, according to The New York Times. It is not known if he was involved in this recent death.

"It's certainly not something any of us recommend in the modern infection-control era," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University.

"This is a ritual of historic Abraham that's come down through the ages, and now it has met modern science," he said. "It was never a good idea, and there is a better way to do this." (The modern Jewish community uses a sterile aspiration device to clean the wound in a circumcision.)

In the 2004 death and the more recent one, a mohel infected the penile wounds with Type 1 herpes I (HSV-1), which affects the mouth and throat. It is different from Type 2 or genital herpes (HSV-2), which is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause deadly infections when a newborn passes through an infected birth canal.

Neonatal herpes is "almost always" a fatal infection, according to Schaffner. "It's a bad virus. [Infants] have no immunity and so it's a very serious illness. Now we have another death -- an unnecessary, incredibly tragic death."

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!

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

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.