The Internet is awash with new generations of folks who won’t rest until pediatricians and hospitals shut down their circumcision operations and recognize human rights and medical ethics. Here is my letter to the man who leads the American Academy of Pediatrics. He could help end the screams and the torture of sexual cutting of the innocent.

April 8, 2013

Thomas K McInerny, M.D.
American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Blvd
Elk Grove Village IL 60007-1008

Dear Dr. McInerny:

I am compelled to call on you and the Academy to disregard your woeful and scattered stance on the issue of routine infant circumcision and come to your senses, out of a sense of humanity and ethics. Unless you are deaf and don’t read the literature, the world has largely rejected the medical unethical practice. Only in America are the serial circumcisers, unencumbered, still cutting foreskins from defenseless, helpless newborn males and minors. Shame on you and the Academy for perpetuating this cruel, barbaric, medically unnecessary practice.

Is it because you can? Where are you on the Hippocratic Oath, “First Do No Harm!” Don’t you recognize the many reasons why nature/God has affixed a foreskin to humans — males and females — as well as mammals in general. Why don’t the medical schools know that? Why aren’t the functions and roles of the foreskin recognized and taught? The foreskin is not extraneous flesh. Moreover, it is outrageous that pediatricians, clinics and hospitals commercially traffic in foreskins — purloined human parts — to industry for uses from creams to skin-starting material. Is that not perverse?

I was in graduate school at Northwestern University in 1971 when I first came across literature that opened my eyes to the madness of a medical industry in America committing wholesale genital mutilation of young males. Needless to say, when our son was born in 1975 and grandsons later, all were spared from the indecency and the knives. Circumcision turns my stomach and it should yours.

How absurd when the AAP assembled a task force on circumcision a few years back and offered a statement that, while not recommending circumcision, recognized some advantages for it. Not one word about ethics or a child’s inherent rights to body integrity or self-determination. No report on the casualities. The pathetic argument about UTIs is laughable — the silly notion that you cut the foreskins of 100 boys so 2 or 3 don’t get UTIs, when it is easily treatable. Then there’s the cancer pretext, something the American Cancer Society has rejected outright. Now in your cure-in-search-of-a-disease approach to things, your task force has clung to flawed African studies to make the far-fetched notion that a foreskin is an environment for AIDS. Never mind that AIDS has flourished far more in the U.S. (with high circumcision rates) while it is far more rare in Europe where circumcision is virtually rejected and men are permitted to stay whole.

Almost a dozen years ago, Arizona became the seventh state (now there are 18) where state health services ended paying for circumcisions under Medicaid because it was seen as medically unnecessary and that such cosmetic surgery on infants was a waste of taxpayers’ money. Fortunately, some insurance companies have the same realizations and don’t pay for it.

But we want some heart. We want some caring. We want the AAP to care enough about the human rights of a new human being, that it realizes we don’t cut off living structures and flesh from the innocent to meet some “maybe situation” in life — a situation with many alternative treatments available short of excision.

Of course, we realize doctors tend to do what their families dictate lest the families opt to take their business elsewhere. Yet we find it appalling that circumcision is the only surgery that pediatricians/doctors can be instructed to perform. How pathetic when doctors don’t look parents in the eye and say, “Circumcision is wrong. It is not only unnecessary, it is harmful to a child’s whole sexuality, and the foreskin belongs there for a multiplicity of functions. I refuse to perform it.”

Yes, we know circumcision is big business in America. It is relatively easy money, and, yes, you physicians brag that botched circumcisions are relatively rare. But there are more than 100 deaths of year in America as a result of circumcision, not to mention surgeries that take too much skin or result in other problems not widely reported. We applaud those hospital and clinical staff who have had the courage to stand up to the circumcisers and state they will no longer be part of the ghoulish practice. We need more doctors to get out of the business, more hospitals to be foreskin-friendly zones and, of course, more parents’ whose instincts alone should be protective enough to never allow their new sons to fall into the grasp of staffers in the circ room with its macabre torture equipment, starting with a circumstraint.

So, Dr. McInerny, you lead the AAP. Study up on this nasty thing called circumcision — a practice that, if conceived today as a new idea, would be quickly recognized as perverse, sexual assault and land the cutters in jail. Your pediatricians can get by perpetuating this cruel quackery only because it was nicely entrenched in the medicalization of America where generations of doctors naively thought they were on to something. This isn’t like de-beaking baby chicks or dehorning cattle or docking the tails of puppies. Circumcision forever changes the structure of the penis — transforms it to an unprotected, exposed, dried structure minus 20,000 nerve endings, ridged bands, and more.

We applaud the AAP for reversing itself last year on the ill-conceived notion to allow girls in the U.S. to get a symbolic genital nick in hopes their parents wouldn’t put them through female genital mutilation underground or overseas. But we are appalled that, in America, such a glaring double standard can prevail — that young males can be genitally cut and permanently altered sexually, yet we’ve criminalize any sort of cutting on females in the U.S. Where is the 14th Amendment ensuring equal protection of ALL under the laws of the United States? It is blatant hypocrisy.

Dr. McInerny, the tide has turned. The seamy, sordid, repulsive practice that your profession calls a medical procedure, is officially rejected by a caring world. But it goes on each day in defiance of human justice and medical ethics. And the circumcision industry gets richer because you lamely say, “Well, it’s the choice of parents.” Baloney. The AAP needs to take responsibility or continue to be dogged at conventions and reviled for allowing this to go on.

For crying out loud, for the newborns crying out loud, shut down your cutting rooms. Live up to your mission of working for the “well-being for all infants, children, adolescents, and young adults.”

It’s a time for leadership that ends the great shame your profession allows. Some of us know how to protect our children from doctors who do bad things. We want to protect the rest of those baby boys who are to follow so that they can grow up whole and complete as their maker intended.

It has been said that “civilization is just a slow process of learning to be kind.” Dr. McInerny, you can help speed that up.


Lawn Griffiths