Comment on the CDC draft guidelines on circumcision

Please take the time to read up on these guidelines and use this link to post your comment to the CDC. This is a link to the published guidelines from the CDC.

Critiques of the CDC guidelines can be found here by Brian Earp and here from Intact America. It is important that we respond and add as many unique comments in response to these guidelines as many countries use the American medical establishment’s stance on cutting the genitals of boys as a justification for the continuation of this anachronistic practice.

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US lawyers fight for boys human rights

DSC_0018-crop219wAttorneys for the Rights of the Child – ARC – issued a press release today, December 3rd 2014, in response to the December 2nd release from the  for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – CDC – of a draft of proposed circumcision guidelines.  The press release can be accessed at PRWeb. The text of the release is reproduced below.

Steven Svoboda Attorneys for the Rights of the Child Pictured left has started what must become a flood of responses to the CDC’s draft guidelines. Intact America are going to organise a quick link to allow supporters to post comments. As soon as we have more on this we will make it available.

Attorneys for the Rights of the Child Preparing Response to Today’s Draft Circumcision Regulations Released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); CDC Ignoring Medical Evidence and Growing International Opposition

Berkeley, CA – The human rights organization Attorneys for the Rights of the Child (ARC) (www.arclaw.org) is preparing a response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding its release on December 2, 2014 of a draft of proposed circumcision guidelines.

J. Steven Svoboda, ARC’s Executive Director, commented today, “Sadly, the CDC has chosen to ignore the medical evidence to try to justify an outmoded and painful cultural—not medical—practice. In these days of constantly mounting medical costs and ever scarcer resources, we simply cannot afford to continue supporting and performing a harmful and antiquated procedure.”

Regarding the CDC’s claim that circumcision’s benefits outweigh the risks, Svoboda commented, “The CDC omitted the functions of the amputated tissue. If the CDC advocates for cutting off a body part, shouldn’t we know what that body part does?”

Svoboda commented, “If circumcision is as desirable as the CDC suggests, why are European countries moving towards banning it, why are their males healthier than Americans, and why does the CDC not come out and recommend it?”  By the CDC’s own admission, Americans are increasingly choosing to leave their sons intact, as circumcision rates have plunged in recent years.

Svoboda added, “A recent study (Bossio, Int’l Society for Sexual Medicine 2014) concluded that the literature favoring circumcision contains considerable gaps, lacks rigor and is largely not applicable to North America.” Studies of HIV in adult males in Africa suffer from methodological and statistical errors and even if valid, given vast differences in health conditions and modes of transmission, the results can hardly be applied to justify infant male circumcision in the United States.  “Doctors cannot ethically remove tissue from babies without consent, based on speculation about their possible sexual behavior decades later,” Svoboda added.

“Male circumcision,” Svoboda said, “violates a child’s right to bodily integrity, not to mention numerous civil and criminal statutes.”  Malpractice awards are mounting up; a list of seventy such cases were released by ARC, the largest amounts to 22.8 million dollars (Antonio Willis v. Northside Hospital Atlanta, March 1991).

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Attorneys for the Rights of the Child is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 to protect children from unnecessary medical procedures to which they do not consent.

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One man’s story

I am a British born Muslim who was circumcised as a child and I believe I was about 8 years old when it happened although I cannot be sure of the exact age. I remember going to the hospital with my father and elder brother and being given an injection in my buttocks and waking up to find ice cream on the side table.

I only began researching circumcision after a hunch around the age of 17 when studying for my A-levels at college. I came across Mothers against Circumcision and then found NORM-UK and realised I was not alone in my thoughts.

I forgot about circumcision for many years and it was not until my late twenties and having found myself unemployed with lots of free time that I began researching this issue. Soon enough I came across Intact America and Doctors Opposing Circumcision and many Facebook pages as well as YouTube videos. I then discovered that the skin tag on my penis was a result of my circumcision and that this was very much highlighted as one of the harmful complications of circumcision on the website Circumstitions.

I then began printing Intact America factsheets and sending text messages to friends. I began speaking to fathers and anyone who was expecting a baby boy and making visits to see the fathers, funding much of the work from my own pocket. I made visits to a couple of my siblings who were expected to circumcise their boys but sadly their circumcisions went ahead without me knowing and after I had given them the factsheets. I now do a lot of work online targeting parents and keeping a tab locally on who is having children and boys in particular.

On 7th September 2014 I joined the Bloodstained men at a demo outside the Gherkin and met Richard Duncker and Patrick Smyth for the first time although I had had online conversations with Richard previously.

Gherkin demo

My concerns are about America as well as globally and being here in the UK my focus is on the Muslim/Jewish community. My work continues and I will do as much as I can to educate and stop parents from circumcising their baby boys and I truly believe circumcision needs to be abolished.

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“Unspeakable Mutilations”

Men are coerced by society to keep silent if they feel damaged by circumcision. A man complaining about what is essentially a sexual assault will be greeted with statements like “Oh you’ve just got a problem” or “You’ve got a bee in your bonnet”. Almost never will they be greeted with sympathy or any understanding. Watson’s book does an enormous amount to break the silence and to encourage a compassionate view of men who have had an unnecessary procedure forced on them.

DSC_0865crop26wWatson’s introduction to the book is a neat summary of the well documented harms caused by male circumcision. The papers published by various academics and scientists working in the fields covered by human biology have all concluded that the foreskin which is removed by the act of circumcision is a functional and specialised component of the male anatomy. Academic papers can be a challenge to digest, Watson’s introduction is easy to comprehend and gives excellent references if the reader wants to study the subject of physical harm further.

The heart of the book is the light it shines onto the psychological damage caused by non-therapeutic male circumcision. Watson examines what little evidence there is in the the academic sphere and goes on to provide the stories of 50 men, from a wide range of cultures and ages, who tell us about their journeys from the discovery of what has been done to them, to the harm it has caused, and their reaction to that harm. Often men who have taken this path arrive at a positive or at least optimistic place.

What can no longer be in doubt, thanks to Watson’s book and the brave men who tell their stories, is that some men do suffer a significant amount of damage as a result of an anachronistic and inappropriate medical practice. Some men may claim to be unharmed and even be happy with their circumcision but the question lingers about how comfortable you are knowing that a large number of men do suffer in silence from the misguided parenting and the unnecessary medical treatment they have received. Surely the prudent course of action is to let the child mature and then make his own decision.

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Denver, Colorado, USA – MDC on tour

Whilst attending the Genital Autonomy Symposium in Boulder, Colorado which spanned the three day period July 24-26, Richard, Logan and Patrick took the opportunity to support US intactivists by participating in some street protests that were being staged in nearby Denver both before and after the symposium. The location (which had been announced in advance on Facebook) was a busy intersection overlooking the Colorado State Capitol. Logan and Patrick surprised the organiser Brother K when they appeared unannounced on the morning of Wednesday 23rd and were warmly welcomed. Brother K later commented on Facebook: “This was his (Patrick’s) first visit to the United States, a surprise he kept from me, so that when he walked up and joined the Bloodstained Men & Their Friends protest in Denver, I just about fell over in astonishment.”

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There was already a group of more than half a dozen gathered there, including Jonathan Friedman, Harry Guiremand, Franny Max, David Hill, David Atkinson, Arlis Quick Feidt, Felicia Jones and Patrick Brown. It was a hot day and the group were located in an exposed position, but thoughtfully the organisers had laid on a plentiful supply of bottled water to counter the effects of dehydration.

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A performance of the routine that Brother K has made his trademark then followed, whereby a procession of intactivists would march onto the pedestrian crossing when the red light halted the traffic and spreadeagle themselves side by side with placards raised above their heads. Just before the lights changed to green they would all retreat again to the sidewalk. The performance was photographed and the pics posted on Facebook by several of the participants and members of the public.

A generally positive response was received from motorists and pedestrians who engaged with the demonstrators. A good supply of professionally produced educational handouts highlighting some headline facts and figures about male genital cutting in the USA was prepared for the occasion, and distributed.

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The day after the symposium Patrick returned to Denver to join Brother K and others for another session of street theatre. This time it was decided to split up into two groups: one remained at the intersection near the Capitol building, whilst the other group positioned themselves half way down the 16th Street Mall. Patrick accompanied Brother K, Jonathan Friedman, Harry Guiremand and James Snyder to the Mall where there were mercifully plenty of trees which provided some welcome shade. They were also joined by Jonathon Conte and Hugh Young. Jonathan Friedman decided to up the ante by boldly chanting some provocative one liners to attract even more attention. The others soon joined in to form a chorus.

The last of the Denver protests was staged on Monday 28th when upwards of 20 intactivists converged on the Mall, Denver. It was the most impressive public display of support for the cause that the UK contingent had ever been involved in.  Brother K was particularly pleased to protest with Richard in his bloody overalls, since it was Richard who played a big part in launching the concept several years ago. The overalls have since become a regular feature of many street protests in the US and the UK. James Loewen was in attendance, as he so often is for major intactivist events, and shot photos and videos of the proceedings, which will in due course be available for viewing on his Bonobo3d YouTube channel.

Thanks to Patrick for this report.

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