Circumcision and Medical Association recommendations
Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS. The topic is a delicate one that has already generated controversy, even though a formal draft of the proposed recommendations, due out from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by the end of the year, has yet to be released.
Experts are also considering whether the surgery should be offered to adult heterosexual men whose sexual practices put them at high risk of infection. But they acknowledge that a circumcision drive in the United States would be unlikely to have a drastic impact: the procedure does not seem to protect those at greatest risk here, men who have sex with men.
Recently, studies showed that in African countries hit hard by AIDS, men who were circumcised reduced their infection risk by half. But the clinical trials in Africa focused on heterosexual men who are at risk of getting H.I.V. from infected female partners.
For now, the focus of public health officials in this country appears to be on making recommendations for newborns, a prevention strategy that would only pay off many years from now. Critics say it subjects baby boys to medically unnecessary surgery without their consent.
But Dr. Peter Kilmarx, chief of epidemiology for the division of H.I.V./AIDS prevention at the C.D.C., said that any step that could thwart the spread of H.I.V. must be given serious consideration.
“We have a significant H.I.V. epidemic in this country, and we really need to look carefully at any potential intervention that could be another tool in the toolbox we use to address the epidemic,” Dr. Kilmarx said. “What we’ve heard from our consultants is that there would be a benefit for infants from infant circumcision, and that the benefits outweigh the risks.”
He and other experts acknowledged that although the clinical trials of circumcision in Africa had dramatic results, the effects of circumcision in the United States were likely to be more muted because the disease is less prevalent here, because it spreads through different routes and because the health systems are so disparate as to be incomparable. Clinical trials in Kenya, South Africa and Uganda found that heterosexual men who were circumcised were up to 60 percent less likely to become infected with H.I.V. over the course of the trials than those who were not circumcised.
There is little to no evidence that circumcision protects men who have sex with men from infection.
Another reason circumcision would have less of an impact in the United States is that some 79 percent of adult American men are already circumcised, public health officials say. But newborn circumcision rates have dropped in recent decades, to about 65 percent of newborns in 1999 from a high of about 80 percent after World War II, according to C.D.C. figures. And blacks and Hispanics, who have been affected disproportionately by AIDS, are less likely than whites to circumcise their baby boys, according to the agency.
Circumcision rates have fallen in part because the American Academy of Pediatrics, which sets the guidelines for infant care, does not endorse routine circumcision. Its policy says that circumcision is “not essential to the child’s current well-being,” and as a result, many state Medicaid programs do not cover the operation.
The academy is revising its guidelines, however, and is likely to do away with the neutral tone in favor of a more encouraging policy stating that circumcision has health benefits even beyond H.I.V. prevention, like reducing urinary tract infections for baby boys, said Dr. Michael Brady, a consultant to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
He said the academy would probably stop short of recommending routine surgery, however. “We do have evidence to suggest there are health benefits, and families should be given an opportunity to know what they are,” he said. But, he said, the value of circumcision for H.I.V. protection in the United States is difficult to assess, adding, “Our biggest struggle is trying to figure out how to understand the true value for Americans.”
Circumcision will be discussed this week at the C.D.C.’s National H.I.V. Prevention Conference in Atlanta, which will be attended by thousands of health professionals and H.I.V. service providers.
Among the speakers is a physician from Operation Abraham, an organization based in Israel and named after the biblical figure who was circumcised at an advanced age, according to the book of Genesis. The group trains doctors in Africa to perform circumcisions on adult men to reduce the spread of H.I.V.
Members of Intact America, a group that opposes newborn circumcision, have rented mobile billboards that will drive around Atlanta carrying their message that “circumcising babies doesn’t prevent H.I.V.,” said Georganne Chapin, who leads the organization.
Although the group’s members oppose circumcision on broad philosophical and medical grounds, Ms. Chapin argued that the studies in Africa found only that circumcision reduces H.I.V. infection risk, not that it prevents infection. “Men still need to use condoms,” Ms. Chapin said.
“There’s mixed data on that,” Dr. Kilmarx said. But, he said, “If we have a partially successful intervention for men, it will ultimately lower the prevalence of H.I.V. in the population, and ultimately lower the risk to women.”
Circumcision is believed to protect men from infection with H.I.V. because the mucosal tissue of the foreskin is more susceptible to H.I.V. and can be an entry portal for the virus. Observational studies have found that uncircumcised men have higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases like herpes and syphilis, and a recent study in Baltimore found that heterosexual men were less likely to have become infected with H.I.V. from infected partners if they were circumcised.
Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company
Circumcision is a primal wound that undermines the infant's capacity to establish trust.
The foreskin is a normal, protective, sexually functioning organ.
Circumcision is a very painful, imputative surgery with inherent risks, including hemorrhage, infection, surgical mishap, and death.
It is painful even when analgesia is used, because even the administering of anesthesia itself is also painful.
Circumcision leaves both physical and deep psychological scars. It denies a male's right to genital integrity and to a fully functioning penis.
Introduces pain into the genital pleasure.
And most of all it impairs a male’s capacity to trust and introduces pain into the genital pleasure.
Today, not one national or international medical association in the world recommends circumcision. As with every foreigner who is not from the Middle East, I was in shock when I found out what's being done to the baby boys here in America. I want to share with you what I found out about the history of circumcision.
Here are quotes from New Testament - Jesus's words, i.e. in John 8:32, are good advice to His believers regarding circumcision, that it's NOT nesessary. He said, "...you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free".
Romans 2:29, 4:11-14, 13:10
I Corinthians 7:18-20
Galatians 5:1-6, 6:12-15
Ephesians 2:11, 15
Colossians 2:11, 3:11
Circumcision: The history and the False Beliefs
In ancient Egypt circumcision was used as a sort of branding for slaves. It was a tool of breaking the spirit at a young age to make a slave or a soldier. Mainly through breaking the primal bond between the boy and his mother.
During the mid-1800s in the English-speaking countries circumcision was believed to be the cure from masturbation, which was believed to cause a myriad of ills, including scoliosis, hernia, gout, kidney disorders, blindness, epilepsy, and insanity.
By the turn of the century, the microscope was developed, and a fear of germ became the next excuse. Penile cancer was the fear of the '40s. Cervical cancer was the excuse of the '50s. Sexually transmitted diseases were the fear of the '60s... Urinary tract infection was the excuse in the '80s. Now circumcision is believed to prevent AIDS. However, the USA has one of the highest HIV rates, as well as one of the highest circumcision rates in the world.
There was a study done in Africa in 2006 that proved, in no uncertain terms, that after a mass circumcision of male adults, the new AIDS victims rates went significantly down. Indeed, that was true. But the report failed to mention that a short time frame was monitored in that study, during which those circumcised men were not engaged in sexual activity at all because of the massive pain they were in! Now, with this report, which is just a new excuse, the AIDS rates will sky-rocket, because those men believe that they don't need to use any other protection, because they are circumcised!
In American hospitals, until recently, circumcision was routinely performed on a great majority of infants, up to 95%, whose parents were not given a proper explanation. In the last few years, however, there have been a significant decline in statistics: now in California it's around 20%, on the West Coast in general - around 35%, in Central and Eastern states - still 70-80%.
Currently, on average, 3 million girls a year are still being circumcised in the Middle East and Africa. They lose their clitoris' in excruciating pain, without anesthesia, without sterilization, with dull blades or a piece of broken glass...
It just does not make any sense to me! Our creator (fill in the blank, - whatever word suits your description of the Intelligence of that Creative Energy) - provided us with our genitalia in the first place. Why would we demand to fix it and cut off something from a brand new baby right after it was made? Especially, an exquisitely sophisticated piece of 'something'? That piece of skin has 20,000 very specific erogenous nerve endings that are responsible for knowing pleasure.
I talked with an Israei rabbi Nathan, asking to tell me the exact words from the templates, - what does the actual ancient text say about it. He searched high and low for it in the originals and said it's not even in there. There is no direct sentence in Torah saying it should be done. It's pretty vague and can be interpreted every which way. www.rabbinathan.com/ The closest translation he came up with was: 'remove the foreskins from your heart'. From the HEART!!!
Here is Rabbi Nathan:
"The early Egyptians gifted us with circumcision. The patriarch Abraham was 99 years old when he made the covenant (hebrew: Brit') with Yahweh. He circumcised himself. And we know that it was a small symbolic cut..the removal of the tip of the foreskin that hung over the glans.
In the second century , the Jews at this time were wanting to participate in the Greek and Roman olympics..they competed in the nude. The Greeks and Romans only allowed 'intact' males..as they celebrated the human form in its wholeness and completeness.
So, if a Jewish man wanted to compete..he would hang some weights from his existing foreskin and 'restore' himself. The Rabbis of this era did not take kindly to this practice of physical assimilation so they instituted two new rituals into the circumcision procedure.
1. Periah..the complete removal of the foreskin, exposing the glans, and in some cases, the removal of the frenulum (the extra-sensitive band of tissue on the underside of the penis.)
2.Metzitzah..the sucking of the blood from the cut penis.
These two procedures are still performed among Orthodox Jews world wide.
So, from a simple snip at the time of Abraham, we now have a major blood-letting ceremony, complete with blood sucking.
This has got to stop..it is endangering the sexual integrity and health of our men and women and it has major potential for dividing the Jewish people.
Here is what the Deuteronomy 10:16 says: "Circumcise the foreskin of your heart,"
(ET: NOTHING ABOUT CUTTING OFF PENISES!!!)
In Hebrew, the word foreskin is 'orlah'.. there is an 'orlah' covering the ear..and the heart..
What is preventing us from 'hearing the word of God and opening our hearts in love and compassion.. This is the real circumcision that needs to occur. and it is a life-time learning ceremony.
According to most Jewish teachings there are 613 commandments in the Torah (Bible-Old Testament). 248 positive commandments (Mitzvot Aseh), and 365 negative commandments (Mitzvot Taaseh). Although not all rabbis are in agreement about this..actually, not all rabbis are in agreement about anything...there is no 'Jewish universal field theory.' (Humanistic Judaism does not even believe in God.) And the same is true for all the religions..not all Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, believe the same way. (more often than not they will fight and war with each other re: belief..sad but true)...
So, i find it fascinating (and disturbing) that young bright couples, who practice very little of the 613 commandments..will have SUCH major surgery performed on their baby boys in the name of a tradition that they know little about and are not even practicing...
Well, how Orthodox do you want to be...is it the more foreskin that is removed...the more Jewish your child will be?
Will you include the blood sucking ceremony?
Circumcision is not a guarantee of Jewishness. The Jewish mother is.
It was introduced into the American culture by Dr. John Kellogg (yes, the Kellog cereal man) ..(he also favored female circumcision very much)
He said that it was a cure for masturbation!..(it's not)..and likewise it is not a procedure that guarantees health, holiness, compassion, connection with the Spirit world or wisdom in our sex.
Infancy is a most sacred and special time. At no time in life is physical tissue more sensitive and responsive to touch, taste, sound, temperature etc.
I have witnessed hundreds of circumcisions, the baby boy usually lies in bliss and blessing and as soon as his penis is touched it gets erect...and then he is held down... either with a restraining unit or by an elder, and then he is cut... and he screams bloody murder, and cries... and cries...
How is this event stored in memory? What are we doing to our children? ...and why?
I don't know..You don't know..We don't know..and that's the truth of it. Forgive us dear Lord ..for we know not what we do...
We have so much pathology (sickness/disease) around our sexuality that it makes no sense to cut off parts of our anatomy because some second century rabbis thought it was a good idea.
Boys are born with foreskins and girls with hymens. They both have a reason and purpose. It is their own surprise package..for them to open..a special present from their Creator. We have no right to open their private packages. It is their body. If they want a circumcision at the age of thirteen or 99 that is their choice.
As parents and caretakers of children it is not our task to make them into copies of ourselves but to allow them to be the unique and beautiful spirits that they are.
Sex in Hebrew is called 'beah' or 'knowing" (...and Adam 'knew' Eve and she conceived). One must first learn to 'know' oneself..in order to be able to 'know' another.
Most people in western cultures view female genital mutilation as primitive and barbaric; but hold male circumcision in a totally different light. Our cultural bias obviously creates blinders from which we cannot see clearly.
The code of the Jewish law is called "halacha" (the way). Within the Code, there is a provision that if a mother looses a son because of circumcision, she is NOT obligated to circumcise her next son. I extrapolate from this, the inter-connection of my human family , that enough deaths, handicap and maiming have occurred because of circumcision. Therefore - circumcision is no longer a requisite.
Brit Milah' is the Hebrew for the covenant of 'circumcision'. 'Mila' also means 'word'.. We can welcome the child with songs and praises and holy words..gentle tones, and soft touches and smiles, without hurting them.
Infants are great teachers of gentleness,tenderness, softness, quietness, forgiveness, and peace. We can use a drop of wine instead of blood, and give Praise to our Creator for the gift of life..and celebrate together in joy holiness and thanksgiving.
If you feel that you absolutely must do some ritual 'blood-letting'..less is better..return to the original concept, a small snip off the tip ..or a drop of blood from a needle prick.
Just as we no longer practice the animal sacrifices in the traditional temple, so let us not sacrifice an important piece of our nature in the temple of tradition. Let us be holy beings in our sex and spirit - they are connected beyond our imaginings, and let us start with bright beginnings, wonder, prayer, gratitude, and grace. Spare the pain, nature will provide plenty of 'owie' opportunities. Let us comfort, console, love, and caress, and yes - Bless each other in holy love. Listen, Yah is One. Let's protect our babies from our dead belief! Our creator did not want us to hurt them and created this organ for our pleasure.
What really matters? Love - water - food - shelter! I choose life that I might live, to love Yah with all my heart, with all my soul, and with all my might. And, I will love my neighbor as myself.
As a Rabbi and a naturopathic physician, I am continually looking at the natural world and beholding in wonder and awe the glory of all creation.
All is with a purpose, all spaces have their time.. life is meditation..the all is one... Divine...
And all of those somebodies were mere humans, which means they could have been mistaken... They were men who wanted to mess with other men's heads, to control them, their very lives! - that's who wanted the foreskins. As a sign of submission.
Somehow they understood that as the baby boy is taken from his mother's arms and subjected to this torture, the only way the baby can interpret it - as a betrayal by her. He will have to work hard on trusting her again. He can be trained to show her some respect and behave appropriately, but that deepest wound in his heart will take forever to heal... Most of the men simply don't know that they carry that deep pain within them, where it came from and why, - they just act it out unconsciously...
Besides, as far as hospital circumcision goes DOCTOR'S OBLIGATION IS, FIRST OF ALL, TO THE PATIENT, not to the patient's parents or their religeous beliefs. I'm talking about hundreds of millions of circumcised infants that did not have their say in it, whose parents didn't even believe in the Old Testament and are not Jewish or Muslim. These babies were tortured for absolutely nothing! There are no medical reasons for it! Cleanliness? What about the nations that don't practice circumcision? They don't have higher rates in any of the diseases. They just wash up! - Should we remove their teeth, too? It would prevent tooth decay! What if their hands get dirty? Cut them off, too?!Here are quotes from New Testament - Jesus's words, i.e. in John 8:32, are good advice to His believers regarding circumcision, that it's NOT nesessary. He said, "...you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free".
Romans 2:29, 4:11-14, 13:10
I Corinthians 7:18-20
Galatians 5:1-6, 6:12-15
Ephesians 2:11, 15
Colossians 2:11, 3:11
It takes a lot of courage for an Israeli Rabbi to go against circumcision, yet Rabbi Natan is doing it so lightheartedly, joyfully, matter-of-factly speaking up his mind... I admire his ability to see the truth and talk about it.
Also, I wanted to share that there is a rapidly growing movement in Israel— "Jewish Women against Circumcision." NOCIRC.ORG has more information (Marilyn Milos, the founder of that organization was the one who gifted me with the footage of circumcision in my film, Birth As We Know It)