Empowering Parents in the Circumcision Debate

11/01/2017 02:40 pm ET
Intact America
CircumcisionDebate.org closes the gap between what intactivists want people to know and what the public is ready to hear.

The first time Niki Sawyers thought about circumcision was when her newborn son was laid on her chest in the delivery room, and the doctor asked, “You’re getting him circumcised, right?” Exhausted after an intense, induced labor, she teared up and shook her head “no.”

But the next morning, a second doctor came by her hospital bed and woke Niki up. He told her the surgery was in her son’s best interest and that he was really good at doing the “procedure,” as he called it. “I kept saying no,” Niki says, “and he kept talking to convince me.” Finally, sleep-deprived and full of self-doubt, Niki gave in and signed the consent form when the doctor assured her that her son would not feel any pain. Then the boy was whisked from the room.

Niki will never forget what happened next. Her baby was brought back to her room, pale with swollen red eyes, a hoarse voice, and a hernia from screaming. He wouldn’t look at her, and he wouldn’t nurse. “For the rest of my life,” Niki emphasizes, “I will regret what I did.”

After hearing Niki’s story, and to help moms like Niki with the information they need before they give birth, Intact America has launched CircumcisionDebate.org The website is designed for the curious and for prospective parents who want the facts at hand, in order to make up their own minds and—if needed—to challenge doctors, nurses and other hospital staff who pressure them to circumcise their babies.

The reason why this is necessary is that American medical professionals do not always know best when it comes to circumcision. Newborn male circumcision has been a part of American medicine for generations, and too many people working in the health care system accept it as the social norm. Add in the financial incentives—circumcision is a fee-for-service procedure that puts a quick few hundred dollars in doctors’ pockets—and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

A Tipping Point

Today, thanks to social media, more and more people are talking about circumcision—online, at parties and family gatherings, and in the media. But for people new to the discussion, finding clear, factual, and complete information untainted by cultural bias can be difficult.

For example, a Google search for “Should I circumcise my son?” takes you to links to Parents Magazine and WebMD articles that gloss over or ignore the health risks as well as the sexual and emotional consequences faced by circumcised men. There’s also a plethora of claims about medical benefits (highly dubious), or assurances that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends circumcision (it does not).

For years, intactivist organizations have offered the facts about male circumcision on their websites. Much of the content is excellent, but it can be overwhelming if you are brand new to the issue. Additionally, in interactive forums, people often become emotional and strident, turning off those who are just looking for basic information.

CircumcisionDebate.org closes the gap between what intactivists want people to know and what the public is ready to hear. It’s an “entry-level” site, presenting a broad overview of the history of medical circumcision, and the issues being debated by Americans today. CircumcisionDebate.org acknowledges that many parents are having a tough time figuring out whether or not to circumcise their sons, and answers the real questions that parents have.

The website serves another important function. It provides a context for Americans’ preoccupation with removing healthy tissue from baby boys’ penises. CircumcisionDebate.org describes the history of the practice, the protective function of the foreskin, and the essential role the foreskin plays in sexual pleasure for men and their partners. The site also explains the risks and long-term consequences of circumcision—facts that should be front and center in the debate.

As Americans change the way they think about circumcision, we will reach a tipping point—a time when a critical mass of people will believe that keeping boys’ genitals as nature made them is the natural thing to do. We think that CircumcisionDebate.org is one more means in getting us to that tipping point. Check it out and share it with your friends and family. Tell us what you think.

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