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Circumcision Exposed
Rethinking a Medical and
Cultural Tradition

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Circumcision: A Critical Issue of Human Rights

Ted Pong
(edited for length by NOHARMM)

All human beings have a sacred right to the inviolable privacy of their own bodies. Circumcision of infants and young children violates that right.

Throughout history societies have taken the attitude that babies and children are not people with human rights, but assets and chattels, to be loved or exploited, nurtured or abused at whim, fashion, tradition or religious dictate. The truth is, babies are people with human rights. In an age of slowly dawning enlightenment, societies are now just beginning to understand this. With this understanding, routine infant circumcision must come to an end.

The truth is, babies are people with human rights.

All human beings must have the freedom to choose for themselves whether they want to have their normal healthy foreskins or any other normal healthy body parts amputated for any reason.

Circumcision is medically unnecessary elective surgery. Millions of people, over 80% of the world’s population, in fact, live their lives happily whole and intact (not circumcised). Most of these have few if any foreskin problems, which is absolute proof that infant circumcision is unnecessary surgery.

Most doctors, nurses, midwives and medical institutions worldwide, particularly in the socially and medically progressive Scandinavian and other western European countries, recognize that circumcision of infants is neither necessary nor desirable.

Only in the United States is there still debate about medical or health benefits resulting from circumcision. This debate exists only because the habit of circumcising newborn infants is so rigidly established that stopping is too embarrassing, and the operation is too lucrative for doctors to want to stop. [NOHARMM Comment: Numerous physicians have told us that they do not do circumcisions to "make" money, but to avoid "losing" money. They fear that if they refuse to honor a parent’s request for a non-therapeutic circumcision, the parent will take their business elsewhere and the physician will lose potential income for the duration of his relationship with the family. Either way, such physicians are placing their financial interests above their ethical duty to protect their true patient, the child.]

The surgical removal of a healthy body part from any individual
without fully informed consent of the individual
is a violation of medical ethics.

Any unnecessary elective surgery performed on any person incapable of giving informed consent violates human rights to free choice, no matter what benefits may be thought to result. Circumcision of newborn infants or very young children of either sex is unnecessary surgery. Babies and very young children cannot give informed consent. [NOHARMM comment: But these individuals will eventually attain this capability, which is why their eventual right to self-determination should not be usurped during a vulnerable period in their life, but safeguarded.]

The surgical removal of a healthy body part from any individual without fully informed consent of the individual is a violation of medical ethics. Normally, a doctor who is caught amputating healthy body parts without consent from the patient is prosecuted, except in the case of infant foreskins.

It is time for the medical profession in the United States to learn that foreskins are normal functional parts of the body. It is time to start prosecuting doctors who circumcise.

Religion cannot be allowed as an excuse, any more than any other reason, to permanently mark a child with a surgical amputation of a healthy body part. In 1984 in the State of Washington, Lummi indians inflicted some ritual bites on a 16 year old girl -- a few bites that would heal completely – as part of a religious ceremony. They were charged with assault and convicted.

Circumcision never heals throughout life. The foreskin is permanently amputated, but mohels (Jewish ritual circumcisers) are allowed to continue, while American Natives with equally valid religious beliefs are punished for assault.

Genesis 17 is not a sufficient reason to allow
a helpless baby to be surgically altered for life.

Genesis 17 of the Bible demands that every man-child be circumcised. This is the reason Jews, Muslims and some Christians believe they must circumcise. Genesis 17 is not a sufficient reason to allow a helpless baby to be surgically altered for life in a country that claims to be civilized. Literal adherence to religious scripture and ecclesiastical authority has long been humanity’s worst stumbling block. It has given us the persecution of Galileo by the Roman Inquisition, the Spanish Inquisition, the New England witch hunts and the Nazi Holocaust for 6 million Jews (Hitler was a fundamentalist religious fanatic too).

A child marked by irreversible surgery as a religious sign without consent is deprived of religious freedom.

There is a major world religion which places a positive value on being physically whole and intact. It is Buddhism. Buddhist scripture lists 32 signs of a Holy Buddha, Enlightened One. The tenth reads, "His privates are sheathed." Some translations say, "His male organ is fully retractable" or "well retracted."

Buddhism consistently emphasizes compassion and asks followers to practice harmlessness and to avoid extremes of asceticism or self mortification. From this it is clear the early recorders of Buddhist teachings knew about the cruel rite of circumcision and wanted to emphasize that it must never be inflicted on one who would become a Buddha. This means everyone, because in Buddhism the opportunity to become a Buddha is open to every living being who chooses to follow the eight-fold path to enlightenment.

A man circumcised near birth is deprived of his freedom to choose, should he desire to fully enter into the way of Buddhism. A man who is intact, on the other hand, is still completely free to choose for himself to be circumcised if he wants to join or to confirm faith as a Jew or a Muslim.

The fundamental issue of circumcision, religious or secular,
is that every human being has a right to choose.
Respect children’s rights.

See also:

More Pages Related to Male & Female Circumcision

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Last updated: 28 February, 2012
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