September 4, 2021
Last month Your Whole Baby published a post with questions for parents considering circumcision. YWB implied that a parent who cannot answer these questions lacks sufficient knowledge to give informed consent for her son's circumcision.
The problems generated by the YWB questions are the same problems with a series of questions posted on the Saving Our Sons website in 2014. Our analysis of the SOS questions applies equally here. The list is nothing more than a red herring, designed as a tool for intactivists to portray a decision in favor of circumcision as ignorant. Some questions have little relevance for a circumcision decision maker. She doesn't need to know the positions of foreign medical associations. She doesn't need to know anything about circumcision methods that her son's pediatrician doesn't use. And it's telling that YWB thinks a fully informed parent must have a complete understanding of (circumcision) complications, but not of circumcision benefits or foreskin complications.
With all that said, we'll nevertheless respond to the YWB questions.
What are the functions of the foreskin?
The foreskin functions are a joke. In this 2017 article we examined and ultimately refuted each of the 16 alleged functions of the foreskin.
What is a circumstraint?
Olympic Circumstraint is a trademarked brand name for an infant patient immobilization device sold by the Natus Medical Incorporated company. Hospitals use a medical restraint to protect a patient during a surgical procedure, which necessitates that the patient be completely stationary. Without a medical restraint, any unexpected movement by a patient could result in the physician removing too much skin or accidentally severing some or all of the glans and shaft.
What are the Gomco clamp, Plastibell, and Mogen clamp? The Gomco clamp, Plastibell, and Mogen clamp are the three most common circumcision methods in the United States.
Any immediate and long term complications?
Foreskin complications include tightness (phimosis,) swelling (balanitis,) infection, inflammation, and dryness. Foreskin is associated with an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases, penile cancer, and cervical cancer in a man's female partner(s). Researchers in Denmark found that 5% of boys under 18 suffered a foreskin complication significant enough to require treatment at a medical center.
In terms of complications related to circumcision, the AAP reports:
"Significant acute complications are rare, occurring in approximately 1 in 500 newborn male circumcisions. Acute complications are usually minor and most commonly involve bleeding, infection, or an imperfect amount of tissue removed. Late complications do occur, most commonly adhesions, skin bridges, and meatal stenosis."
In other words, the risk of a significant childhood foreskin complication is 25 times greater than the risk of a significant circumcision complication.
Do major world health organizations recommend it?
The World Health Organization promotes circumcision. The WHO publishes a 140-page Manual for early infant male circumcision under local anesthesia. The WHO reports that "there are significant benefits in performing male circumcision in early infancy, and programmes that promote early infant male circumcision are likely to have lower morbidity rates and lower costs than programmes targeting adolescent boys and men."
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association, Canadian Paediatric Society, and Royal Australasian College of Physicians all recommend that parents should receive accurate and unbiased information about the benefits and risks, so that they can make informed decisions on whether or not to circumcise their sons. The RACP advises: "Parental choice should be respected."
Can newborns be given proper pain relief?
Does pain alter a newborn's brain?
There is no published scientific evidence that pain associated with circumcision alters a newborn's brain. The sole source for this claim is a 2008 post describing an alleged study that was never published - a post written by a physician with a history of anti-circumcision activism. The claims he made about the alleged 1998 study are suspect. A critical analysis is at this link:
For analyses of similar claims, see:
Any study that doesn't involve pain relief is obsolete; for more than two decades the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that all patients should receive proper pain relief.
What percentage of men are intact? Virtually 100% of men are intact. By definition any male who isn't castrated has intact genitals.
In terms of circumcised versus uncircumcised: it's estimated that between 62-70% of males worldwide are uncircumcised. Based on ongoing circumcision programs in Africa and China, at some point this century circumcised men could be in the majority. #YourWholeBaby #YWB #InformedConsent #RedHerring #LogicalFallacy #Memebusters #Circumstraint