Circumcision: What Your Baby Can't Tell You

"Circumcision Is a Brutal Ritual Rooted

in Superstition and Should Be Abandoned"

And other excerpts from the Syllabus of Abstracts
of the Second International Symposium on Circumcision
San Francisco, April 30 - May 3, 1991

"The male foreskin has three important physiological functions that circumcision irreversibly destroys." (George Denniston, M.D., MPH, "Structure and Function of Male and Female Genitalia; The Circumcision Procedure: Risks vs. Benefits")

"He [the newborn infant] does not need the agonizing pain of having part of his body cut off for non-existing health reasons. He does not need to be circumcised for religious reasons or social customs or superstition ... The newborn needs to be appreciated for the amazing being he is and the care of his foreskin should be: Do not hurt it! Do not try to retract it! Do not amputate it!" (Paul Fleiss, M.D., MPH, "Care of the Intact Male")

"The prepuce is much more complex than the simple fold of skin described in textbooks. Its inner, mucosal surface contains a tightly pleated zone, near the tip, rich in nerve endings, particularly large mucocutaneous end-organs that are also described in the glans ... the prepuce is specialized junctional tissue with a special sensory function." (John Taylor, M.B., FASC, "The Prepuce: What, Exactly, Is Removed by Circumcision?")

"Epidemiologic studies of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and male circumcision are naturally biased and confounded by unmeasured STD exposure, which is tied to markers such as geographic, ethnic, socio-economic and other risk factors." (D.W. Cameron, M.D., FRCP, "Circumcision and Sexually Transmitted Diseases")

"[A] carefully considered decision against circumcision can be reconciled within Jewish tradition." (Lisa Braver Moss, B.A., "The Jewish Roots of Anti-Circumcision Arguments")

"[T]the mistakes it [Judaism] carries with it, such as the ritual of circumcision (Brit Milah), should be considered no differently from the way they are considered by society in general, no matter how centrally important they seem to Jewish culture ... Circumcision is child abuse." (Moshe Rothenberg, CSW, "Ending Circumcision in the Jewish Community")

"This presentation addresses the irrational forces of religious and social customs that oppose sexual pleasure and support the torture of children (male and female) through the forced mutilation of their genitals. Science attests to the incalculable pain, injury and suffering needlessly inflicted upon children through the dogma of irrational religious beliefs that dictate forced genital mutilations. No religion has the right to engage in torture, mutilation or human sacrifice; yet all of these have been justified through religious beliefs ... the destruction of sexual passion and pleasure is a common motive for genital mutilation ... Additional scientific evidence ... [of] a strong, causal relationship between deprivation of physical affectional relationships, including sexual relationships ... and violent authoritarian cultural behaviors ... A metamorphosis from a society that values violence and pain to a society that values peace and pleasure -- a society in which women are truly equal to men -- is essential to the elimination of genital mutilation of children and other forms of human violence." (James W. Prescott, PhD, "Genital Pain Vs. Genital Pleasure: Why the One and Not the Other?")

"In the last century, when medicine rose to dominate childbirth in developed countries, it brought with it a denial of infant pain based on ancient prejudices and scientific dogmas that can no longer be supported." (David W. Chamberlain, Ph.D., "Babies Don't Feel Pain: A Century of Denial in Western Medicine")

"An infant does retain significant memory traces of traumatic events. When a child is subjected to unbearable, overwhelming pain, it conceptualizes the mother as both participatory and responsible, regardless of the mother's intent. When the mother is, in fact, truly complicit, as in giving permission for unanesthetized surgery (i.e., circumcision), the infant's perception of her culpability and willingness to have him harmed is fixed indelibly." (Rima Laibow, M.D., "Circumcision and Its Relationship to Attachment Impairment")

"Many circumcised men are angry and resentful, feeling betrayed by parents and/or doctors." (J. David Bigelow, Ph.D. and R. Wayne Griffiths, M.S., M.Ed., "Foreskin Restoration From Celsus to the Present: Reasons, Techniques and Results")

"Today, an estimated 98 million African women are suffering the medical, social, and psychological complications of genital mutilation." (Asha Mahamud, M.D., MPH, "The Practice and Politics of Female Genital Mutilation")

"The medical and psychological consequences suffered by its victims can be devastating and lifelong." (Hanny Lightfoot-Klein, M.A., "Prisoners of Ritual: Some Contemporary Developments in the History of Female Genital Mutilation")

"The human rights issues of informed choice, body ownership, and the right to intact genitals as feminist rights are evaluated in the context of the recent feminist movement. America's women and their health-care providers are challenged to extend those same human rights, not only to females here and abroad with whom they can identify, but to men, male children, and male newborns, as well." (Donna Macris, CNM, MSN, "America's Experience: The Feminist Movement for Body Ownership is Medically Recognized")

"Because of the subtle physiology of the intact penis and foreskin and the physical damage caused by circumcision, research is needed on psychological damage resulting from male newborn circumcision." (Frederick H. Baker, M.A., "Healing the Trauma of Circumcision: A Call for Research and Presentation of an Archetypal/Ritualistic Therapy")

"[C]ircumcision is a brutal ritual rooted in superstition and should be abandoned." (Ashley Montagu, Ph.D., D.Sc., "An Anthropologist Looks at Circumcision and Its Probable Origin")