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Oregon Retracts Foreskin Coverage
No More Clip Jobs

Cameron Chandler
Juice from our Bunch - Napa Valley Men's Network, p. 4 & 7, March 1994

Whether you love 'em or hate 'em, Oregonians have a mind of their own. They have been on 60 Minutes, and all over the national press about "The Oregon Health Plan," a very practical and innovative program to deliver universal health care at affordable cost. The key to their plan is LIMITING health care to what is cost effective and affordable, then making it available to everyone who needs it. Their panel of experts took a total of 696 diagnoses and procedures, then prioritized them in terms of cost versus cure. At the top is Pneumonia, relatively inexpensive to treat with a very high cure rate. At the bottom is Anencephaly (being born without a brain), which is untreatable and terminal. Oregon figures it can afford to pay for only the first 565 procedures on the list. The rest are either prohibitively expensive, experimental, cosmetic, or unlikely to significantly extend life expectancy.

Being Oregonians, there has to be controversy - of course! Some illnesses that are no longer covered are the flu, chronic back pain, artificial insemination and tonsillectomy. Metastatic cancers are not covered if there is less than a 5% chance of survival to five years (but in these cases hospice and 'comfort care' are covered.) People will have to get used to certain things being unreimbursed. Tell that to the woman who just had a mastectomy and now hears that reconstructive breast surgery is no longer a covered procedure.

Even though there is new federal health insurance under review, Oregon implemented The Oregon Plan as the basis for it's state MEDICAID program on February 1. Phasing in over five years, eventually all Oregonians not insured elsewhere will be covered by this plan. It is funded in part by an additional 10 cents/pack sin tax on cigarettes. Since sixteen percent of Oregonians are unemployed or on state aid, their MEDICAID plan actually covers a lot of people. You have to give Oregon credit for having achieved universal healthcare. They have a plan right now which many are calling a model for the country. Washington (D.C.) is still trying to figure out what the issues are.

The men's movement, tiny and underfunded as it is, has made some progress
in eliminating the routine genital mutilation of men in America.

Of particular note, a newly uninsured item in the Oregon Plan is circumcision. The men's movement, tiny and underfunded as it is, has made some progress in eliminating the routine genital mutilation of men in America. We are the last Western country to still habitually skin the wiener for non-religious reasons. It is significant that conservative Oregon has gone through the political exercise of arguing out the circumcision controversy, and they came down on the side of leaving the little guys alone. Right now, the anti-circumcision forces, NOHARMM and NOCIRC are lobbying the AUA (American Urological Association) and trying to convince Hillary to slash circumcision from the national health plan. It's not an easy job. The majority of health care professionals are equipped with statistics that purport to show health benefits of circumcision. (Please try to remember that health professionals are not gods. There was a time when they were equally convinced they had the statistics to prove that leeches and bloodletting were beneficial.) Of course, at $600.00 a slice, the health care industry has a vested interest in snipping junior's foreskin. Sew all those little foreskins together, and on a national basis it comes out to be quite a tidy little purse.

Moms aren't too enthusiastic about changing either. Some are squeamish about infant care of the uncircumcised - it's a lot simpler to think in terms of "he should look just like his Daddy and the other little boys." The truth is, there is no special care required for uncircumcised infants. But, habits are hard to change. Consider that England, Canada, Australia, Scandinavia, Continental Europe and other Western countries (all of which have had universal, nationalized health care for a long time) figured out a generation or two ago that it did not make sense to pay good money for mutilating the genitalia of their menfolk.

Americans persist in their pig-headed thinking
that they know something the rest of the world doesn't.

Why does America have this hard-headed fixation that it is necessary or desirable to continue this ritual disfigurement? Consider that all of these Western countries have had a generation or two to discover medical evidence of foreskin-related disease - if there was any - changing their medical programs, if necessary. None have done so, and none are even considering the possibility. Still, Americans persist in their pig-headed thinking that they know something the rest of the world doesn't. Even though the rest of the world has a fifty year headstart on national health care. Message to the AUA: Get a Clue. Better yet, get a foreskin!

In Oregon, a new day is dawning. The health care industry has acquiesced to the fact that there is no significant clinical evidence to justify destroying kid's foreskins. Moms who want junior to "look like Dad" will now have to ask themselves if they want this cosmetic surgery bad enough to pay $600.00 out of pocket. It is hard to know how much of Oregon's timberland will be intact twenty five years from now, but, it is intriguing to think that by then Oregon will have a new generation of loggers who are intact! I hope I am still around to see the day. If I am around, I hope I still have enough libido to care... ah, about the trees, that is. They are so big and tall and straight and... gee, my brain gets hard just thinking about them.

Word is getting out about the benefits of not circumcising. Even that bastion of heterosexuality, Men's Health magazine, in it's companion rag Men's Confidential, has printed an article about foreskin restoration. They followed up with several letters from readers documenting injury from negligent infant circumcisions, diminution of sexual sensitivity after adult circumcision, and improvement in sexual sensitivity after foreskin restoration.

Men in general, and the gay community in particular,
would do well to focus more attention on this issue.

It really is too bad that lesbians don't have foreskins on their clitorises (should that be clitori?- suppose I should know more about these things. I confess I haven't been paying attention.) Can you imagine dykes letting baby girls get strapped down to a board so some guy can come along, spread their labia, attach some guillotine thing to the clitoris and slice off the top end. Oh, I don't think so! It would start the political equivalent of WWIII (acronym for Wild Women Intent on Intimidating Ignoramuses). Maybe worse. I say it's too bad, because lesbians are so vocal about what is pissing them. When they get mad, they write letters. Then they get organized and write lots more letters. Sissies don't seem to own pens, or know where to borrow one. Gay men either don't know the issue beyond their own partner preference (Cut? Uncut? Whatever comes to hand?) or don't care enough to speak out. Straight guys are told by their wives and their wives' gynecologists to butt out, so they do. Straight guys are such victims! Therefore, the whole anti-circumcision movement is being undertaken by a bare handful of men. Men in general, and the gay community in particular, would do well to focus more attention on this issue.

There are also books on the subject available at A Different Light Bookstore in the City. After you've brought yourself up to speed on the subject, try writing a letter (really!).

< < Postscript>> This article prompted a little bit of discussion amongst the editorial crew about whether clitori are adorned with foreskin or not. Nowell, who used to be married, says they do and they are. I, who also used to be married, am not sure I knew even when I was married. Which could have something to do with why I am no longer. Kevin didn't know but offered a dictionary definition that a clitoris was homologous to a penis ... so? Dave didn't know. Dave said please stop talking about it because it was giving him an upset stomach. Jeeze, Dave, we weren't asking you to eat one. I thought about calling one of my new lesbian friends but was afraid she might ask me to come over so she could show me. Not knowing how to gracefully duck an invitation like that, I decided not to risk it. I did do some personal research. Hustler's latest issue reviews a new glossy photography book called "Femalia" which is an exhaustive (it wore me out just reading the review) pictorial study of you-know-what! It included color photos of three magnificent ones, but upon close examination the answer was--inconclusive. Someone must know. Is there a bisexual among us who has empirical knowledge? Will NVWN come to our aid? Maybe it will
give us a little icebreaker to get a conversation going at the combined NVMN*NVWN potluck at the end of the month. Whadda ya wanna bet the women know all about it. And don't forget about "Femalia." You won't see it on the coffeetables of most of the guys I know around the valley. But, imagine what a perfect gift for a straight guy about to join the submarine service, or for the groom at his Batchelor's Party, or best of all, as a Christmas gift for your dyke sister who accuses you of never shopping for a personal gift for her.

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