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Intactivist rebuttals to PPC arguments

November 23, 2019 John Adkison, creator of the Genital Autonomy Society website, has developed a simple chart to aid intactivists when they are confronted with a "parent's choice" argument. My analysis follows.

Religious freedom belongs to the individual.

A brit milah (Jewish circumcision ceremony) consists of the circumcision procedure and religious prayers and rituals. I would ask Adkison to identify which part of the ceremony violates religious freedom. The result of a brit milah is indistinguishable from a hospital circumcision. Since intactivists have not made the case that a circumcision performed for a medical reason by a secular doctor in a secular hospital violates religious freedom, the procedure itself cannot violate religious freedom.

The difference is that a hospital circumcision involves only the surgical procedure, whereas a brit milah also includes prayers and other religious rituals. Yet intactivists promote a non-cutting ceremony that includes religious prayers. [1] Therefore the intactivist objection cannot be to religious prayers and rituals So by logical reasoning, if the components of the ceremony do not violate religious freedom, then neither can the ceremony itself be a violation.

Circumcision in no way restricts religious freedom. A man can join any religion regardless of his genital status. I am not aware of any religion that prohibits membership to circumcised males.

There are medical benefits to removing many body parts. What other parts are allowed to be removed without medical need? Slippery slope

There is no slippery slope. Unlike the foreskin, most body parts have functions and their removal would handicap the patient by eliminating or obstructing the function. In addition, many elective surgeries carry significant risks and costs, as certified family nurse practitioner Melanie Lindwall Schaab documented in her analysis, "Why not the breast buds?" [2]

The foreskin itself is not a body part; it's an unnecessary flap of germ-harboring tissue. I can think of only one other loose flap of skin on the body: the external female genitalia. No medical authority claims that there are any benefits to elective removal of the female genitalia, nor any organ or other body part. Previous Circumcision Choice analyses have demonstrated that circumcision does not adversely affect the three functions of the penis. [3] [4]

Just because some people commit crimes, do we punish everyone? Some women smell.

The analogy to crime is a poor one. First, circumcision is a beneficial medical procedure - not a punishment.

Second, fines and imprisonment are negative consequences inflicted in response to the commission of a crime. Elective circumcision is a preventative medical procedure performed in order to reduce the risk of an adverse medical condition.

Third, a universal punishment would be pointless and counterproductive. Imprisonment punishes a criminal, provides justice for victims, deters would-be lawbreakers, and protects society. Universal punishments would accomplish none of those purposes. Circumcision provides several benefits to a male (and his sexual partners) - not punishment.

Finally, the analogy would apply only if Circumcision Choice and our allies were advocating for universal infant circumcision. We are not. On the contrary, we recognize that circumcision should remain an opt-in procedure, and we support the right of parents to choose for or against the procedure.

Female genital odor has no relevance to the inconvenient truth that many uncircumcised men cannot eliminate a repellant odor no matter how often they wash their genitals.

Uncircumcised males may be the majority. Even if it were the case, it is still better to teach your child that it is best to do what is right when standing alone. [5]

If dad is missing other parts, will you have those removed too? [5]

I actually agree with these responses. I wouldn't choose circumcision in order to deter bullying, nor to have matching relatives.

That said, I would not criticize parents who do choose circumcision for those reasons. The bottom line is that circumcision provides a boy with medical benefits, at each stage of life, that outweigh the slight risks. [6] [7] Those benefits apply to every boy, regardless of whether his parents chose circumcision for medical reasons, religious reasons, societal reasons, personal reasons, to deter bullying, or to resemble the father. Some say the ends justify the means; I say the benefits justify the reasons.

Unless you had a part of your healthy genitalia removed as an adult well into your sexual life, you have no idea what you are missing.

Adkison and other intactivists demand that we listen to unhappy circumcised men, validate their feelings, and accept their reports as factual and correct. Yet intactivists turn around and dismiss - even mock - the personal experiences of happily circumcised men who report that they are unharmed. Intactivists cannot have it both ways.

This ad hominem response is a logical fallacy. A circumcised man or a woman (who doesn't have a penis) doesn't need to have foreskin in order to understand the consequences of removing it. All a person needs are eyes to read scientific studies, ears to hear the personal experiences of circumcised men and uncircumcised men, and a brain to analyze the information.

A man circumcised as an adult can report on how circumcision affected himself. He cannot speak for every such man. His experiences do not necessarily reflect the effects of infant circumcision on another man's sexual performance, sexual pleasure, and overall health.

[1] The so-called "Brit Shalom" ceremony is a made-up fake ritual whose only purpose is to entice Jewish parents to reject the Torah commandment in Genesis 17:12. As such, it is contrary to Judaism. Everything you need to know about "Brit Shalom" you can get from the initials.

[2] Melanie Lindwall Schaab; "Why not the breast buds?"; Circumcision Choice; January 7, 2018

[3] "The 16 foreskin functions - a critical analysis"; Circumcision Choice; November 22, 2017

[4] "Of all the nerves"; Circumcision Choice; last revised August 8, 2019

[5] While the left column on the chart seems to list benefits for circumcised males, the items "He'll get bullied" and "He won't look like dad" are worded as to be negative consequences for uncircumcised males. I brought this trivial discrepancy to the attention of the author. He chose to keep the chart as is, figuring that most people will get it.

[6] Susan Blank MD et al; "AAP Circumcision Policy Statement"; Pediatrics; September 2012

[7] "Is it true that just 1 in 16,667 men will require a circumcision?"; Circumcision Choice; November 29, 2018

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