Monday, October 14, 2013

MK Yoel Razvozov: Conduct Bris Milah at Israeli Embassies

In response to the declaration made by the Council of Europe that the circumcision of infants is a human rights violation, Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee chairman Yoel Rozvozov has proposed that Jewish circumcision ceremonies be conducted at Israeli embassies.

"No one can force us and Diaspora Jewry to follow certain religious values and not others. We should be allowed to observe all Jewish customs... If necessary, we will instruct embassies to hold circumcision ceremonies on their territory, which is Israeli sovereign territory." ~MK Yoel Razvozov
Note, there is no ban on infant circumcision, yet.

European laws allow certain religious values and forbid others all the time. For example, female circumcision for whatever reason is strictly prohibited, and there is no exemption for religious practice. At this point in time, I'm not exactly sure where European laws stand on the marriage of children to other children, or even to adults. Someone please educate me, are bride burnings allowed in any country in Europe?

But I digress; let's stick to forced genital cutting.

What would be the political ramifications would that immigration ministries from countries where female circumcision is seen as an important cultural or religious rite, were to propose female circumcision ceremonies to be conducted at the embassies of their countries?

For example, female genital cutting is performed in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and other countries, as a matter of religious and cultural custom, known there as "sunat."

What if the heads of immigration ministries in those countries were to propose having "sunat" ceremonies at their embassies in Europe?

Yes, I'm sure it sounds very poetic to say that "No one can force us to follow certain religious values and not others; we should be allowed to observe all of our customs."

Does it apply in all cases?

Or just with Judaism when it comes to male infant circumcision?

Related Posts:
COUNCIL OF EUROPE: Non-Medical Circumcision a Human Rights Violation

COUNCIL OF EUROPE: When Israel Says "Jump," Secretary General Says "How High?"

Related Links:

Jerusalem Post

Israel Hayom

New York Times - A Cutting Tradition

Friday, October 11, 2013

CINCINNATI: Intactivists Protest Circumcision "Experiment" at Good Samaritan Hospital

Last week, intactivists gathered at TriHealth Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, to protest a clinical "trial" they are conducting, which aims to compare two circumcision devices commonly used for neonatal circumcisions. The experiment aims to compare the Gomco and Mogen circumcision clamps to see which one causes "less pain."

Bottom-left: Mogen clamp. Top-right: Gomco clamp
Details of the Circumcision "Study"
The claimed purpose of this study is to see which circumcision method is "less painful." Parents are being solicited to enroll their male infants in a study comparing two clamps used for non-medical circumcision.

In addition, the experiment seeks to see which method causes more bleeding, takes more time, which is followed by the most "parental satisfaction" in follow up visits (never mind the satisfaction of the child, on whom the circumcision is being performed) , which one causes more need for revisions within 6 weeks, and which one is more likely to cause infections.

Bleeding is being measured by weight of blood soaked gauzes after the procedure. Other outcome measures include neonatal pain score and a standarized score, including vital signs and facial expression.

The so-called "researchers" are starting from the hypothesis that the Mogen technique of circumcision is less painful, faster, and associated with less bleeding for newborns when compared to the Gomco technique after a resident circumcision standard teaching curriculum.

The participants are being euphemistically called "volunteers," and they are male babies 4 days old or less, born healthy from pregnancies without complications.

The experiment, entitled "Gomco Versus Mogen: Which is Best?" is currently "recruiting participants," or rather, persuading parents to enroll their healthy newborn baby boys. More than 200 babies have or will become subjects in the experiment, planned to run through April 2014.

More details on this "study" can be seen here.

Glaringly Obvious Problems

Deliberate Pain
The claimed purpose of this "study" is to decide which clamp "causes less pain." While up until recently, circumcision advocates argued that babies felt "no pain," and some continue to insist circumcision is painless still, the researchers here are not pretending the procedure is painless anymore; they are conceding that pain results regardless of used method. (Actually, it's been known for years that newborns feel pain more acutely than adults, and that circumcision is excruciatingly painful.)

In other words, for the purpose this "study," healthy, non-consenting babies are being enrolled, who will be deliberately made to experience pain. This is inescapably necessary to purportedly track which non-medical surgery method causes "less pain."

Non-medical surgery on healthy, non-consenting minors
The babies being circumcised for this experiment are being called "volunteers," which is a horrible stretch. The "researchers" can get by doing this because they've obtained signed consent from parents, placing on them the onus of responsibility, and circumventing the important question of medical necessity.

A big problem with this is the fact that researchers need "volunteers" for their experiment, and for this reason, parents who are being asked to have their children "participate" may not be being told how much pain circumcision actually causes. They CANNOT know; researchers cannot tell them exactly how much pain their child will endure, for measuring pain is the very purpose of the study. How much information are parents being given to obtain their consent to allow their children to participate in this study? Will they be shown a video of each procedure? Would the parents still consent for their children to "participate" in this experiment if they were truly informed?

But more importantly, consent from parents must be asked only after it has been determined that the child is suffering a medical illness for which there is no other alternative. Without medical or clinical indication, can a doctor even be performing surgical procedures on healthy, non-consenting minors? Let alone be eliciting consent from their parents? Let alone be asking them to let their children "participate" in an experiment, where the researchers cannot deny that the children will be experiencing deliberate pain? 

Short Timeframes for Other Factors
The "researchers" state they will be collecting data for other factors, such as bleeding results, "parental satisfaction" results, botched circumcisions, as well as others. The timeframes for many of these seem inappropriately short, such as measuring bleeding only 10 minutes after the surgery; babies have been known to have bleeding complication for hours, if not days. Additionally, some of these complications, particularly botched results and the need for revision, do not present themselves until the parents have gone home, sometimes even months, years down the line, so these babies will be excluded from this "study."

Note that one of the factors measured is "parental satisfaction," as if that had anything to do with the premise of their "study," which is ostensibly to measure and compare the pain of each device. Excluded here is the satisfaction of the person whose penis is in question.

Medical Ethics and Human Rights Consciously Breached
Not only do the "researchers" know that the procedure is painful, they are also aware that there are risks and complications they expect to see. (Infections and bleeding being the most common complication; not mentioned here are adhesions and the need for surgical revision of botched circumcision jobs.)

In other words, they are running a medical experiment on human babies, knowing that they are going to suffer pain, and that some are going to need additional surgeries, and/or may suffer even more severe complications.

The Use of the Mogen Clamp
An important fact that is not being acknowledged, or deliberately omitted here, is the fact that one of the clamps being "compared," the Mogen clamp, has a bad track record and is notorious for circumcision mishaps, even when used by professionals.

The "Manual for early infant male circumcision under local anaesthesia,"published by the World Health organization in 2010, details that both the Mogen clamp and the Gomco clamp have a risk for penile laceration and amputation, but extends to say that "penile amputation can occur even under ideal circumstances" with the Mogen clamp.

In a 2013 study in Botswana, the Mogen clamp and the Plastibell were compared. The adverse events with the Mogen clamp were considered to be more frequent but "minor" (removal of too little skin and development of skin bridges and adhesions). Bleeding was more frequent with the Mogen clamp as well.

Circumcision botches are so common with the Mogen clamp, that its manufacturer has been put out of business by numerous lawsuits involving partial or complete amputations of the glans penis. In a very recent case, a judge approved a $4.6 million settlement on a behalf of a boy who lost the head of his penis in a botched circumcision attempt. In the $11 million dollar lawsuit that finally put the Mogen company out of business, a mohel severed the end of another baby's glans using one of their clamps.

Data from Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, ARCLaw, show over 80 million dollars paid on settlements over botched circumcisions since 1985. Beyond the economic value (when compared to a billion dollar a year industry), those numbers represent children whose lives will have been impacted for the rest of their lives due to a non-medical elective surgery.

The peculiar thing about Mogen is that until the very end, they claimed that injury was impossible with the use of their clamp, even after other glans amputations were reported. The injury behind a prior lawsuit at Fulton County Superior Court had already put Mogen on notice about the danger of the device. In a different case, at South Fulton Medical Center, another law suit was won in 2009. In that case, a child lost a third of his glans, and the plaintiffs were awarded 2.3 million dollars.

While Mogen is out of business, their clamps have not been recalled, and they continue to be in use, as we observe here. Some doctors continue to market the Mogen technique as "bloodless, painless" and "state of the art."

Given the history of the Mogen clamp, it is beyond me how the "researchers" in this so-called "study" can begin with the hypothesis that the Mogen clamp is "better." It's almost as if the actual purpose of this "study" is to vindicate the Mogen clamp. Perhaps researchers hope that by publishing their study, they could blot out the Mogen clamp's history and clear its record?

So long story short, "researchers" at TriHealth Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio, are conducting an experiment on healthy, non-consenting minors, where they will be deliberately made to experience pain, with obsolete and dangerous equipment. Without any medical or clinical indication, they will be eliciting "consent" from parents for surgery, and their permission to include their children for this experiment.

Problems with the Good Samaritan Hospital Statement:
According to WLWT, TriHealth Good Samaritan released the following statement in their defense:

"At Good Samaritan Hospital it is understood that patient care, education and research respect and support the total good of the patient and uphold the sanctity of human life and the principles of Catholic teaching.

The circumcision study compares two medically accepted circumcision processes. Only after the parent or guardian requests and consents to circumcision for their infant, is informed consent sought for this study; they are free to decline their child’s participation in this study. Steps to ensure pain relief are integral to the study protocol.

Male infant circumcision has been practiced for centuries and is not among the procedures prohibited in the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services."
The statement is problematic from the get-go; healthy newborn males are not patients. The children on which these "researchers" will be experimenting are not sick. In fact, that the children are in good health is a requirement of this repulsive "study." Nevermind the complete disregard and disrespect for the child's basic human rights, and nevermind the first dictum of medicine "First do no harm," circumcising a healthy, non-consenting minor contradicts the principles of Catholic and Christian teaching.

In the second paragraph, the hospital conveniently fails to mention Mogen's history, and they conveniently circumvent the fact that the children involved will not be suffering any kind of illness for which circumcision is the only method of treatment by placing the onus of responsibility on parents, who, because of the nature of the study (it is to deliberately cause and measure pain), may not be given full information as the truth may discourage them.

At this point it needs to be asked; without medical or clinical indication, can doctors be performing surgery on healthy, non-consenting minors? Let alone be giving parents any kind of "choice?" Let alone be asking parents to "volunteer" their children for an experiment whose stated purpose is to deliberately cause and measure pain? Using a clamp with a negative track record for circumcision mishaps?

The last sentence in the second paragraph is conflicting with the stated purpose of the so-called "study."
 Steps to ensure pain relief are integral to the study protocol.

This seems counter-intuitive to the purpose of the "study," which aims to determine which circumcision method is "less painful," as ensuring pain relief will make it difficult to measure pain adequately.

The last paragraph offers the logical fallacy of appeal to antiquity, and offers a disingenuous reference to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.

As pointed out by Guggie Daily in her blog, it is true only in that the Ethical and Religious Directives doesn't mention infant circumcision as a separate topic at all in the entire document. The statement made by Trihealth seems to imply it's not prohibited, versus not being mentioned directly.

Furthermore, here is what the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services does say, regarding situations where non-consenting minors are being signed up for non-therapeutic experiments with risks:
"31. No one should be the subject of medical or genetic experimentation, even if it is therapeutic, unless the person or surrogate first has given free and informed consent. In instances of nontherapeutic experimentation, the surrogate can give this consent only if the experiment entails no significant risk to the person’s well-being. Moreover, the greater the person’s incompetency and vulnerability, the greater the reasons must be to perform any medical experimentation, especially nontherapeutic."
"51. Nontherapeutic experiments on a living embryo or fetus are not permitted, even with the consent of the parents. Therapeutic experiments are permitted for a proportionate reason with the free and informed consent of the parents or, if the father cannot be contacted, at least of the mother. Medical research that will not harm the life or physical integrity of an unborn child is permitted with parental consent."
The directive doesn't explicitly have a statement on non-therapeutic circumcision of infants, male nor female. In fact, since nothing is said about female infant circumcision, if we are to follow the logic of the above conflicting statement, female circumcision, and perhaps other non-therapeutic surgery is approved as well.

At any rate, the related statements clearly show that non-therapeutic circumcision experimentation on baby boys is prohibited, but Catholic hospitals should already know this. There's certainly no confusion when it comes to Catholic teaching on unnecessary medical procedures, forced medical procedures and amputations.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops asserts:
"All persons served by Catholic health care have the right and duty to protect and preserve their bodily and functional integrity. The functional integrity of the person may be sacrificed to maintain the health or life of the person when no other morally permissible means is available. (Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services (Fifth Edition, 2009), n. 29.)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
"Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against moral law." (CCC, n. 2297)

What is infant circumcision?
Or, more appropriately, what is the foreskin?
The foreskin is not a birth defect. Neither is it a congenital deformity or genetic anomaly akin to a 6th finger or a cleft. Neither is it a medical condition like a ruptured appendix or diseased gall bladder. Neither is it a dead part of the body, like the umbilical cord, hair, or fingernails.

The foreskin is not "extra skin." The foreskin is normal, natural, healthy, functioning tissue, with which all boys are born; it is as intrinsic to male genitalia as labia are to female genitalia.

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis, which leaves the glans, or head of the penis, permanently exposed. After circumcision, the head of the penis, and surrounding mucosal tissue, dries out and becomes tough and calloused in a process called "keratinization." The appearance and mechanics of the penis are changed for the rest of a man's life.

What is the medical definition of amputation?
The Free Dictionary by Farlex gives the following definition:

"Amputation is the intentional surgical removal of a limb or body part. It is performed to remove diseased tissue or relieve pain."

Even the medical definition of amputation clearly states that removal of a body part is done to address disease and relieve pain, neither of which are present in a healthy newborns. As the very premise of this so-called "study" concedes, circumcision causes pain, which the "researchers" no longer deny, and which they are set to measure by deliberately causing it.

Unless there is a medical or clinical indication, the circumcision of a healthy, non-consenting individual is a deliberate wound; it is the destruction of normal, healthy tissue, the permanent disfigurement of normal, healthy organs, and by very definition, infant genital mutilation, and a violation of the most basic of human rights.

For any surgical procedure, including surgery to modify the genitals, medical ethics requires both necessity and informed consent, both of which cannot be present in healthy, non-consenting newborns. Without medical or clinical indication, doctors have absolutely no business performing surgery in healthy, non-consenting individual, much less be eliciting any kind of "decision" or "participation" from parents.

This "experiment" on human babies in in direct violation of Catholic teaching and ethical health care directives. Trihealth's statement is complete hogwash. 

Closing Statements
Imagine if you will, a "study" that sets out to see what the "least painful" method of female circumcision. Which one causes the least bleeding. Which one causes "less complications." Which one results in less need for revisional surgery later on. Imagine a "study" whose stated purpose implies causing deliberate pain in baby girls. Imagine one of the factors the "study" sets out to measure is whether or not the parents have been satisfied. Would it ever fly?

Would it be called "progress" if so-called "researchers" found a way to perform infant female circumcision in a way that was "bloodless?" "Painless?" "With little to no risk?"

I'm reminded of a 1959 American researcher, W. G. Rathmann MD, who invented a clamp for female circumcision, as a cure for frigidity. At the least he wasn't targeting infants.

Rathmann Clamp for female circumcision
Rathmann clamp in action - clamping the clitoral hood, the female equivalent of the male foreskin

The trend of opinion on routine male circumcision is overwhelmingly negative in industrialized nations. No respected medical board recommends circumcision for infants. All of them, including the AAP in their last statement, say that the "benefits" are not sufficient.

It must be asked how it is that parents are being asked to consider the self-same "benefits" that couldn't convince a single respected medical organization, and somehow come up with a more reasonable conclusion, and how it is doctors are expected to comply a "decision" that goes against the best medical authorities in the West.

It must be asked, WHY are "researchers" conducting "experiments" on a procedure no medical organization recommends, on healthy, non-consenting minors?

Without medical or clinical indication, how is it doctors are performing surgery on healthy, non-consenting minors? How it they're even letting parents make any kind of "choice?" Let alone "volunteer" their children for an experiment to "measure the pain" of a non-therapeutic, non-medical surgical procedure no respected medical organization can bring itself to recommend?

Is it conscionable that an "experiment" involving a procedure that no medical organization in the world can bring itself to recommend in healthy, non-consenting minors is being conducted?

Is it conscionable that "researchers" are conducting an experiment whose very premise admits that the newborns will be deliberately made to experience pain?

And, can it be conscionable that a device that is known for circumcision mishaps (its manufacturer was put out of business by countless lawsuits raised against them) is being tested?

Who in the world approved this experiment? What was running through their minds?

Would an experiment to see "what is the least painful method of female circumcision" ever be aproved in this way?

The only good that can come out of this "research study" is that nobody will be able to pretend that infants cannot feel pain anymore. They say that they are trying to determine which method results in LESS pain and LESS blood loss, in other words, admitting that there is pain and blood loss involved no matter how it's done.

Further Details:
The study itself can be viewed here, and here.

Principal Investigator: Mounira Habli, MD

(The principal investigator appears to be wearing a Muslim head covering. No conflict of interest there...)
Contact: Michaela Eschenbacher, MPH  

Contact: Rachel Sinkey, MD

Sponsors and Collaborators
TriHealth Inc.

Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01726036

Related Posts:
Circumcision Botches and the Elephant in the Room

The Ghost of Mogen

AAP: Around the Bush and Closer to Nowhere

The Circumcision Blame Game

Politically Correct Research: When Science, Morals and Political Agendas Collide

Other takes on the matter:
Guggie Daly

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

COUNCIL OF EUROPE: When Israel Says "Jump," Secretary General Says "How High?"

It's been only a few days since the Council of Europe declared the medically unnecessary circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors, to be a human rights violation, and, as predicted, it has drawn non-stop fire from Jewish organizations.

Said Benjamin Albalas, President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece:

"This is a sign of anti-Semitism."
The Jerusalem Post

If one reads the comments to these articles criticizing the Council of Europe for their stance, the argumentum at Hitlerem is never-ending.

Israel Gets Involved
Apparently, Israel has gotten involved, with President Shimon Peres, sending a letter to Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland, asking for his intervention.

Parliamentary Assembly Session January 2011
Thorbjorn Jagland,
Secretary General of the Council of Europe
And, apparently, the Secretary General has complied, signaling that the Council of Europe has begun to backpedal.
According to a tweet from Jagland's press spokesman Daniel Holtgen, Jagland has expressed:
“Female genital mutilation violates human rights. Male circumcision does not.”
But this was to be expected; Israel also got involved when the Cologne ruling was handed down in Germany, causing the Bundestag to write up a resolution "protecting" non-medical child genital mutilation.

Poor Europe, stuck between a rock and a hard place; they must perform a delicate balancing act, wanting to protect basic human rights, while at the same time, appeasing Jews who hold the Holocaust ever over their heads.

Special Pleading
In his letter to the European Council Secretary General, Shimon Peres stressed that infant circumcision is of "great importance" in Jewish and Muslim religious tradition. (Since when does the Israeli President care about Islam?) He also noted that male circumcision has been practiced by Jewish communities for thousands of years and is a " fundamental element and obligation of Jewish tradition." Peres stressed that Jewish communities across Europe would be "greatly afflicted to see their cultural and religious freedom impeded upon by the Council of Europe," which Peres observed is "an institution devoted to the protection of these very rights."

Of course, Shimon Peres, and other advocates of circumcision that make these arguments are employing logical fallacies, either inadvertently, or quite deliberately.

Of course, where it is practiced, female circumcision has also been practiced "for thousands of years," and those who practice it see it as a "fundamental element" and obligation for their traditions. Communities across Europe who practice female circumcision are also "greatly afflicted" because their "cultural and religious freedoms" are infringed upon by the local government. But, apparently, while the Council of Europe is to condemn the forced genital mutilation of females, ad antiquitam should afford male genital mutilation special treatment.

Circumcision is Not Exclusive to Jews
Accusations of anti-Semitism are based on three assumptions:

1) That circumcision is exclusively Jewish
2) That circumcision is universal among Jews
3) That intactivists focus on stopping only Jewish circumcision

The fact is, circumcision is not exclusive to Jews.

Circumcision also happens to be Muslim practice. It is considered a rite of passage in the Philippines, and it is considered a rite of passage in many parts of Africa, where, as in female circumcision, boys and men of varying ages are forcibly circumcised in the wilderness using raw materials. Not to mention that in the United States, 1.2 million baby boys a year are circumcised, only about 3% or so, comprising of Jewish brisim.

A commenter on Facebook made the following observation:
Jews are 1.7% of the US population (5,425,000 out of 313,900,000) and only about 30% of American Jews have a bris; the remainder have their son circumcised in the hospital or doctor's office just like all other American boys or skip circumcision. By my math, 30% of 1.7% is just over one half of one percent, or one-sixth of your figure.

In Muslim tradition, boys are circumcised at later ages,
when they can remember. Here, a boy is being circumcised
at a medical facility in Turkey. Note his white circumcision outfit.

In Marikina, east of Manila, boys "receive" their "free" circumcisions.

 Boy in Africa being circumcised.

In Indonesia, an infant girl undergoes "sunat" to fulfill religious and cultural tradition.

Not too far away, an infant boy undergoes circumcision for precisely the same reasons.
(Notice the mother: "Shh! Quiet!")

(Only one of the above "traditions" should be a human rights violation, according to circumcision advocates. Can you guess which one?)

In addition, circumcision is not universal among Jews. There are Jews in Europe who have been leaving their children intact for years. A growing number of Jews are forgoing a traditional Bris Milah circumcision ceremony, and instead opting for a more peaceful, non-cutting Bris Shalom naming ceremony. Even in Israel, there is a growing number of parents who are not circumcising their children. A recent poll reveals that 1/3rd of Israeli parents question the practice.

And finally, it would be one thing if intactivists targeted the Jewish ritual of infant circumcision. The fact is that intactivists oppose the forced genital cutting of ALL minors, regardless of race or creed. Jewish bris is only one form of male infant genital mutilation. We're opposed to ALL of it.

It is dishonest for Jewish advocates of circumcision to pretend like they're being "singled out," when this clearly isn't the case. Little by little people are seeing through this smear tactic, as more and more people have the courage to speak out, despite the threat of being labeled Nazi-Germans.

Questions to consider:
For better or for worse, the forced genital mutilation of females has also existed "for thousands of years," and it is considered an important rite of passage where it is performed. In some tribes and communities, a woman who has not undergone genital cutting is seen as a social outcast.

Is declaring the forced genital cutting of girls to be a "violation of human rights" not "affliction" to those living in Europe who practice it?

Is being against the forced cutting of girls and women "anti" ethnic groups that do it? (e.g. anti-African, anti-Indonesian, anti-Malaysian, anti-Brunei, etc.?)

Is a ban on female circumcision not infringing on "religious" or "parental rights?"

If leaders of countries where female genital cutting is practiced were to write to the Council of Europe, would they be obliged to soften their stance against the forced genital cutting of girls?

Why the special treatment of only MALE forced genital mutilation?

When are world leaders going to cut the political pandering and call a spade a spade?

Related Posts:
COUNCIL OF EUROPE: Non-Medical Circumcision a Human Rights Violation

The Cologne Ruling and the Limitations of Religious Freedom

Germany "Protects" the Forced Genital Mutilation of Boys

Intactivism: It's Not Just for Gentiles Anymore
The "Anti-Semite" Card No Longer Washes
So Where's the "Sunat Party?"

Thursday, October 3, 2013

COUNCIL OF EUROPE: Non-Medical Circumcision a Human Rights Violation

Readers must pardon me for not posting much lately, and and I must apologize for the poor quality of posts I am able to muster. My current job situation is very demanding and I don't have time to sit down and think things out anymore. There is so much happening in the world of intactivism and so much I want to comment on too.

Currently there is a lot of hullabaloo, because the Council of Europe has declared medically unnecessary circumcision to be a human rights violation. For this post, I will cut-and-paste a few comments that have appeared in my Facebook news feed, and give a few brief thoughts on it.

Yet another great step in the right direction! The German member of the Council of Europe, Marlene Rupprecht, got his draft resolution adopted today, which juxtaposes ritual boys circumcision with female circumcision as human rights violations. Thanks to Marlene Rupprecht! The resolution, which was adopted without one of the proposed adjustments (amendments, inter alia, one Turkish amendments which were aimed at removing the ritual circumcision boys from text) can be read on her profile. Europe rocks!
Here is a link to the "Children’s right to physical integrity" resolution that was just passed by the Council of Europe. (Click on "Here.")
According to Sweden's children's ombudsman, "To circumcise a child without medical reasons and without the child's consent, runs the child's human rights and the fundamental principles of medical ethics." What do you think about the Ombudsman for Children in Sweden?
So very pleased to covey this most exciting news from Strasbourg, the Council of Europe has voted to define circumcision of male children a human rights violation. The resolution and recommendation were both accepted, votes for were 77 and 78, and against 19 and 13.
Here is a link to an article from Denmark.
"As ombudsmen for children and experts in children’s health we consider circumcision of underage boys without a medical indication to be in conflict with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, article 12, about children’s right to express their views about their own matters, and article 24, pt. 3, which says that children must be protected against traditional rituals that may be harmful to their health. In 2013, the UN Human Rights Council has urged all states to end operations that compromise the integrity and dignity of children and are prejudicial to the health of both girls and boys. We consider it central that parental rights in this matter do not have precedence over children’s right to bodily integrity. What is in children’s best interest must always come first, even if this may limit grown up persons’ right to carry out their religious or traditional rituals."
(Shared with this link.)

The Parliamentary Assembly, Council of Europe, PASSED the resolution that medically unnecessary circumcision of boys is a violation of their human rights. Many amendments were offered for religious exemption or the sincere medical beliefs of the parents, but these failed. We can mostly thank Rep. Rupprecht of Germany for this result. She is an intactivist and spoke forcefully and eloquently.

In a resolution based on a report by Marlene Rupprecht (Germany, SOC), the Assembly strongly recommends that states promote further awareness in their societies of the potential risks of some of these procedures for childrens’ physical and mental health. It calls on states to clearly define the medical, sanitary and other conditions to be ensured for practices such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys.

It also asks states to adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted.

PACE also recommended that “children’s right to physical integrity” should be explicitly included in relevant Council of Europe standards.

(Shared with this link.)
Today, under the leadership of German intactivist Marlene Rupprecht, the Council of Europe (CoE) passed a recommendation number 2023 (by a vote of 78 in favor, 13 opposed, and 15 abstaining) endorsing a child's right to physical integrity and a resolution number 1952 (by a similar vote of 77 for, 19 against, and 12 abstaining) discussing the right to physical integrity in more detail and specifically supporting genital autonomy for children by opposing several practices including male circumcision, female genital mutilation, and "early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersexual chldren."

The CoE's resolution 1952 includes the following statement in paragraph 2:

The Parliamentary Assembly is particularly worried about a category of violation of the physical integrity of children, which supporters of the procedures tend to present as beneficial to the children themselves despite clear evidence to the contrary. This includes, amongst others, female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersexual children and the submission to or coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

Paragraph 7.5.2 of the resolution states that the CoE "calls on member States to... clearly define the medical, sanitary and other conditions to be ensured for practices which are today widely carried out in certain religious communities, such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys..."
In a groundbreaking move, the Council of Europe has told its 47 member states (including the UK) that medically unnecessary circumcision is a violation of boys’ human rights!
(Shared with this link.)
A Danish newspaper confirms that all the Nordic ombudsmen for children and numerous health experts have met and agreed in principle to work toward a ban on the circumcision of children (boys & girls) before they are old enough to understand and legally consent. This includes all circumcisions for religious reasons and naturally makes allowances for medical necessity.

Two Danish political parties have already agreed to add a ban on religious circumcision to their platforms.

Nordic includes Scandinavia plus Finland and Iceland. Specifically (west to east): Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.


Also, the Council of Europe held a debate today, which I watched live on the web, regarding a resolution that, among other things, declared religious circumcision of minors to be a traditional practice injurious to the rights and welfare of children.

There were numerous amendments offered, specifically trying to label circumcision as "beneficial" and "not harmful", or to take out any language from the bill relating to male circumcision. These failed. In the end, the resolution was adopted! It passed 78-13, with 15 abstentions. The author is Marlene Rupprecht from Germany.


Overall, this has been a remarkable day for progress in protecting boys from unnecessary and harmful genital cutting.

My thoughts:
As much as I think laws against circumcision sound great, I'm not holding my breath.

Don't get me wrong. I am against the forced genital cutting of healthy, non-consenting individuals. There is nothing that I would like to see more than to have the practice of circumcising healthy, non-consenting children abolished, and that the individuals that do this be put in jail and/or taken to court by the men who resent this violation upon their bodies.

It is inspiring that somebody has drafted a resolution calling the forced circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors the human rights violation that it is, that it was proposed to the Council of Europe, and that it actually PASSED . The last time anything like this has happened was when a proposition to ban non-medical genital mutilation in infants was put on the ballot in the city of San Francisco.

In my opinion, however, we've got a long way to go.

Even today, it is rather taboo to talk about circumcision, especially in Europe, where questioning circumcision automatically gets you labeled an "anti-Semite." The ethics of performing needless surgery on a healthy, non consenting individual are never addressed. Rather, advocates of circumcision want to talk about how any attempt to scrutinize infant circumcision harkens back to the days of the Holocaust. Already, Jewish media outlets are trying to dismiss Europeans who oppose the non-medical circumcision of healthy minors as "left-wing secularists and right-wingers who fear the influence of immigration from Muslim countries." (Yes, because people don't actually see the forced genital mutilation of healthy, non-consenting minors as a deliberate human rights violation. You see, they actually just woke up one day and thought to themselves "Today is a good day to hate a Muslim.")

On the one hand, it's exciting for me to learn that there is actually legal progress being made concerning the rights of healthy, non-consenting minors. Social change never happened because people sat around wishin' and a-hopin'. Human rights issues have been addressed because somebody had the courage to stand up and question the status quo and to challenge social constructs and expectations. Just imagine what would have never changed if people had never taken action; slavery, women's rights, gay rights etc.

On the other hand though, I think the ban in Europe will ultimately, and ought to, fail. I'm not sure there is any country ready to handle the fallout of an actual ban on the non-medical circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors. Too many parents see this as their parental or religious "right," and the state would have to deal with the logistics of arresting and prosecuting countless renegade mohels and doctors. Who knows what ruckus it would cause with religious organizations, or even countries where circumcision is a norm, who have relations with European countries. Perhaps this is what the Bundestag was thinking in their response to the Cologne ruling? (Incidentally, in another very recent case, a court in Hamm in North Rhine-Westphalia has forbidden a woman from having her six-year old son circumcised because of a risk of psychological damage, this despite the Bundestag's resolution to keep circumcision legal.)

I think we have to admit to ourselves that, at least for now, it could never actually work. Human rights activists shouldn't be surprised or disappointed if and when others manage to dismantle such a ban. Rather, we should be thankful for the opportunity to further our cause and keep fighting. We've got a long way to go, and I think it's a mistake to think that our fight would end, would that an actual ban on the forced genital mutilation of all sexes were enacted.

Don't get me wrong; we shouldn't give up the ship just yet. We need to fight to be heard. We should persevere until the very end. But let's keep our feet on the ground; current society is not ready for a ban against circumcision. Expect for religious groups and charlatans with a feigned interest in public health to cry foul, and expect for attempts to ban the forced, non-medical circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors to be stopped before people even get to vote on them. In countries where bans may actually be instated, expect renegade circumcision advocates to defy the law publicly or secretly. Expect for every attempt to compare said countries to Nazi Germany. It's going to get worse before it gets better.

It is a mistake for intactivists to let all their hopes ride on a circumcision ban. Those that do are sure to be disappointed, because those who cling to circumcision, whether it be for traditional, religious, lucrative reasons, or to satisfy their own personal fetish, are not going down without a fight, and will most likely be successful in striking it down.

I have often read that in social movements, laws are the very last thing to change. The reason a federal ban against female genital cutting passed so swimmingly is because female genital cutting was already seen as the gross human rights violation that it is. Intactivists have a long way to go. A ban is not going to end our worries; it may in fact prove to make our efforts more difficult.

We need to work to realize social change first; a ban is not going to happen until society is on board. In my opinion, worrying about passing a circumcision ban is placing the cart before the horse. Rather than effect social change, it may make advocates of circumcision cling closer to what is seen as a cherished tradition, and/or a lucrative source of income.

More so than a ban, it is important to dispel the myths surrounding circumcision and the foreskin, and to spread factually accurate information; we need to spread awareness of why the forced circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors constitutes a gross human rights violation and medical fraud. Until that groundwork is done, I'm afraid a ban, even if it does happen, will not do our movement any good.

"First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win."
~Mahatma Gandhi

DISCLAIMER: What I have expressed in this blog post is my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the views of all intactivists.

Related Posts:
The Cologne Ruling and the Limitations of Religious Freedom

San Francisco Circumcision Ban

Cutters Trying to Silence Debate

SAN FRANCISCO: Democracy Hits A Brick Wall

Legal Circumcision Battle Goes State AND Federal

Intactivism: It's Not Just for Gentiles Anymore

The "Anti-Semite" Card No Longer Washes

Related Links:
Council of Europe Report: Children's right to physical integrity

Historic event in Denmark; report by Morten Frisch

Jewish Media Coverage:
The Times of Israel

The Jerusalem Post

The Jewish Daily Forward

The Jewish Press

Jewish Journal 


Virtual Jerusalem

Jews News