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Bad Science Doesn’t Justify Male Circumcision

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Doctors still attempt to promote the unnecessary and unethical practice of male infant circumcision – and have begun using increasingly questionable science to support their argument.


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Contributor: gone77

Thank you so much for writing this, Roland. The fact that routine infant circumcision still exists is appalling and sex-negative.

Contributor: Jobthingy

Up here, it was covered by healthcare for a long time and now if you want it done, you have to pay out of pocket. Most parents will say, when asked, "Well daddy had it done so jr should also". This really annoys me. I will never understand why father and son should have a matching penis.

Contributor: tovangar2

Circumcision is a vicious expression of patriarchy. For those who would protect protect patriarchy at all costs, the strident and dishonest advocacy for this barbaric practice is paramount.

Contributor: Michael Intactivist
Michael Intactivist  


The people deceiving Circumcisers and their victims who in this case are also the deceived parents and people in general, even our judges and politicians, are obviously not aware or they purposely hide the fact that CIRCUMCISION IS OUTLAWED.

Everybody needs to know that they are breaking the most basic laws of every Democracy, the US Constitution and the International Laws of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Rights of the Child which clearly state that inflicting preventable injuries on others is a Human Rights violation and a severely punishable crime.

Contributor: Michael Intactivist
Michael Intactivist  


The First International Symposium on Circumcision in Anaheim, CA on March 1-3, 1989 and again at the Fourth International Symposium on Sexual Mutilations held at the University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland on August 9-11,1996, affirms that the genital mutilation of children is torture and is in violation of Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that states: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; …

… and Article 37 of the U.N. CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD: (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Contributor: Michael Intactivist
Michael Intactivist  

U.S. Federal Law makes female genital mutilation a crime and baby boys/children are protected by "the equal protection of the laws" of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


Any intelligent and compassionate person easily understands that this is criminal, sadistically perverted, cruel and barbaric and they agree that freedom of religion does not mean that you can harm others. Circumcisers purposely misinterpret the First Amendment of the US Constitution as they want to force their religion onto others by deceiving and coercing religious people with lies about God and medicine so they can mark their child victims in the flesh.

Contributor: Michael Intactivist
Michael Intactivist  

They torture and mutilate for profit and to make obedient and dumbfounded little slaves out of people and with it they also break the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the basic laws of every Democracy. They take away their victims’ right for intact genitals, their body integrity and the choice not to look like belonging to certain religions.

Awakened people from all over the world are uniting to bring all perpetrators to justice if they don't stop preaching and committing this crime immediately. All their further actions are being recorded and their data is being kept as evidence for the day when they are getting sued, arrested and trialed by the people. Nobody will be exempt from punishment if they further preach, promote, enable, contribute and commit this crime on defenseless and non-consenting children.

Contributor: Michael Intactivist
Michael Intactivist  

We ask everybody to stop all these cruelties immediately and to report all the perpetrators. We demand from our governments to obey and enforce our existing superior laws.

All those who continue to torture and mutilate innocence and all those who enable and contribute to this corporate child torture holocaust shall be brought to justice for breaking the highest laws of this world and this universe.

Contributor: Hugh7

"Do your little boys a favor. Give them the choice to be circumcised or not, when they’re old enough to make that decision for themselves." And they almost certainly won't. Some people think that's a reason for doing it before they can resist, but it's actually an excellent reason for not doing it. Give them a choice, just as you give them a choice whether or not to have their tongues slit, which is actually less invasive, less damaging and more easily reversed (just more public) than circumcision.

Contributor: Hugh7

The same few researchers have been driving the push to circumcise all boys everywhere for years. It's hard to find a pro-circumcision paper that does not have the name of Ronald Gray, Daniel Halperin, Robert Bailey, Stefan Bailis, Godfrey Kigozi, Stephen Moses, Malcolm Potts, Thomas Quinn, Maria Wawer, Helen Weiss, Jeffrey Klausner, Brian Morris, Edgar Schoen, and/or Thomas Wiswell on it. (Schoen has written poems in praise of circumcision. Halperin has said he's "destined" to promote it by his descent from a ritual circumciser. Morris has co-authored a paper with the editor of circumcision-fetish website, and thinks infant circumcision should be "mandatory" in Australia.)

The WHO's policy on circumcision emerged in April 2007 (with a degree of detail that suggests a long-planned campaign had been rubberstamped) from an invitation-only meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, whose membership remains unknown - but I would hazard a guess that the movers and shakers at it were more than a few of those named above.

Contributor: Sarah Arnold Thompson
Sarah Arnold Thompson  

Thanks for the great article Roland- The only point I would disagree with is the idea that circumcision has been "the norm" for a century in the USA. Circumcision is not that well rooted in our history, and it's very important to understand that in the era when most men still living were circumcised- the idea of informed consent had not even been developed. Babies in the 1950s and 60's were circumcised by doctors as a matter of routine and parents weren't even given the option to voice their opinion about it. I've spoken with old women who were under the impression that it was illegal to leave the hospital without the circumcision. To understand the shifting trends of circumcision in our population- check out the numbers from Wallerstein- in 1915 (a century ago) the circumcision rate was 50% for newborns- but only 20% of the male population was circumcised. The population did not reach 50% circumcised until 1950. It would be helpful for Americans trying to understand the practice- if they could be reminded of notable figures from this past century who were not circumcised, like Joe Namath, Gene Kelly and Elvis Presley- rather than allowing them to believe that for a hundred years every(male)one in the USA has been circumcised.

Contributor: Jaimes

This is a really interesting article, and I absolutely appreciate the message. I am still undecided on whether or not I'll circumcise my child, but that isn't for lack of information available from both perspectives. It's just a conversation that my husband and I will have when/if the issue arises, though I feel that we both lean towards pro-circumcision. The moral reasoning that anti-circumcision advocates preach just doesn't fit in line with mine. That's not to say they are wrong, by any means. The message just doesn't resonate strongly with me, because I don't feel strongly about the moral implications of the procedure in the context of modern America, and two atheist parents. But most of the pro-circumcision advocates don't have a scientific argument that resonates with me, either, because they don't speak to the level of sound science that I require for the issue to be important.

It isn't that I believe either side is right or wrong, it's that the issue isn't that important to me. When the decision has to be made, it will be a 5-second thought that is never questioned again. I think that there are many parents and future-parents like me. We understand both sides, but ultimately, we won't lose sleep over the decision, whether it's for or against. But we applaud those that have a strong opinion and stick to their guns.

Ultimately, I commented because I do agree with one of the above comments, and feel that they should be backed up. Circumcision isn't an issue that parents should judge one another by. Everyone has their own decisions to make regarding the procedure. For those that feel strongly one way or another, then your decision is clear. For those that don't have a strong moral or medical opinion for either side, your ultimate decision shouldn't be used as a barometer of your ineptitude as a parent. We are all responsible for making the best decisions we can for our kids, and we can all respect that every other person out there is just doing the best they can to do the same thing.

Kudos again for an excellent article, and many thanks for letting the impartial voice speak up.

Contributor: MeliPixie

Thanks for writing this. Every article about the facts and immorality of circumcision is one step closer to actually outlawing the procedure. I'm thankful that my boyfriend is intact, and agrees that if we have a son, he certainly will not be circumcised either.

Contributor: taniamekv

Good article. Unfortunately everyone I know doesn't agree with you and gave me strange looks when I did not circumcise my son. There is no proof circumcision is beneficial as you pointed out. Why should I subject my newborn to this painful procedure? Yes, it's painful....all babies cry during the procedure. Most people don't even know what the procedure is like. They just do it because its common practice in the US. Thanks again for the article!

Tania @

Contributor: Joseph Lewis
Joseph Lewis  

Excellent article, although I must critique something. Circumcision is always presented in American media under the paradigm of "the big decision," and this article is no exception. Perhaps the author meant to present circumcision in a familiar format palatable for Americans, or citizens of other countries where circumcision is this "big decision?"

Here's the bottom line: The foreskin is not a birth defect. Neither is it a congenital deformity or genital 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 normal, natural, healthy tissue with which all boys are born.

Unless there is a medical or clinical indication, the circumcision of healthy, non-consenting individuals 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.

So the question is, really, without medical or clinical indication, do doctors have any business performing surgery on healthy, non-consenting individuals, let alone eliciting any kind of "decision" from parents?

How is it that parents even feel entitled to this "decision?" How is it doctors confidently approach parents with a ready-made consent form for them to sign?

I think that is the bigger problem. For the reason that parents are constantly bombarded with the message that circumcision is this "big decision" and doctors eagerly pander to the parents' sense of entitlement, I cannot readily blame parents for deciding to do this to their sons. What parent WOULDN'T choose circumcision for their sons, being told that not circumcising them guarantees the loss of the penis to cancer, acquisition of HIV and a life of ridicule? I know that had I not done my research, I would have chosen this for my children as well.

I am sorry for any parent that has been harassed by intactivists; presenting relevant information to parents is the key, not humiliation.

Contributor: Joseph Lewis
Joseph Lewis  

Regarding the "science" presented by Gray and Tobian, "misleading" is an understatement. Given their history of pro-circumcision hysteria, I could not trust any "study" they presented any further than I could throw it. Still, even giving these so-called "researchers" the benefit of the doubt, the statistics they quote are hyperbole and exaggeration at best. Having released their so-called "report," which is actually more of a re-hash their own past work, on the heels of the Royal Dutch Medical Association's negative position against circumcision, I can only guess Tobian, Gray et al. are on the defensive.

There are so many flaws in the so-called "randomized control trials" it's not even funny. Let's take a look at some of them here:

1. Biased researchers. These "studies" were written by long-time circumcision advocates who had been trying to establish a link between circumcision and HIV for the longest time and failed.

2. The call these studies "the gold standard," implying that they were actual RCTs; by the very nature of circumcision, true RCTs are impossible, because true RCTs would be completely unethical. How do you placebo a circumcision? How do you keep people, participant and conductor, from knowing who is circumcised? If participants were recruited men who were paid to be circumcised, can this truly be a "random selection?"

3. The men were told about condoms and sex education. So what caused the reduction in HIV?

4. The circumcised group of men were told to abstain from sex for 6 weeks following their operation. This alone gives the circumcised group of men a head start in the race.

5. The assumption is that the men who acquired HIV did so by female to male sexual transmission; other studies have shown that this is not a very efficient way to transmit HIV. How about the use of needles and gay sex, which, in Africa, it can mean death to admit?

6. The results are grossly exaggerated. There is not a single news outlet that fails to mention the magical 60% figure in regards to circumcision and the reduction of HIV transmission. But what does this 60% figure actually mean? Does it mean that if 100 men get circumcised, 40 of them will get HIV and 60 of them won't? Does it mean that in one's lifetime, a circumcised man is likely to get HIV 40% of the time he has sex, and the rest of the time he's safe? How exactly was this 60% number calculated?

For sake of brevity I'm pooling data here:
For the three RCTs, a total of 5,411 men were circumcised, and a total of 5,497 were left intact. After 20 months, 64 of the men in the circumcised experimental groups had HIV, compared to 137 in the non-circumcised control groups. That 60% figure is the difference circumcised and intact men in the subgroup of 201 out of 11,054 men in the study. When you take into account ALL of the men involved in the so-called "study," the REAL reduction was 1.31%, which, even if we were to take this "study" seriously, is, in the grand scheme of things, insignificant.

What's worse, six hundred and seventy-three men were lost to follow-up, their HIV status unknown, confounding the 1.31% reduction even further. To top it off, after the studies were cut short, all of the remaining men were circumcised; follow-up is impossible, and having deemed their own work "unethical to continue" (why even begin?), they made any further similar studies impossible. These results cannot, will not be replicated in a study conducted by others. Mass-circumcision campaigns in Africa are being carried out using dubious claims that cannot nor will not be confirmed.

Perhaps the biggest confounding factor to these so-called "studies" is that they do not conform to real-world empirical data. HIV transmission was found to be prevalent in 10 out of 18 countries, according to USAID. Despite near-universal circumcision, HIV is RISING in other countries, such as Malaysia, the Philippines and Bangladesh. For whatever reason, nobody seems to think it's a big deal that, even though 80% of US males are circumcised, America has higher STD transmission rates, including HIV, than various countries in Europe where circumcision is rare.

But here's the bottom line; would we EVER consider similar "studies" or "benefits?" When it comes to female circumcision? Why? Why not?

We keep trying to justify what we do to boys, because "there just might be potential medical benefits," but would there ever be enough "potential medical benefits" to make us re-consider female circumcision?

What if we could perform circumcision in a way that only removes "extra bits of skin," leaving the clitoris etc. intact? Yes? No?

Would we ever be supportive of "research" that seeks to find "benefit" in female circumcision? What would we think if Johns Hopkins, NIH etc. funded "studies" to circumcise 1,000 women and see which ones got STDs? Yes? No?

If the same 60% "reduction" were found, would we seriously re-consider female circumcision?

The answer is, no. We wouldn't. These studies would be deemed unethical and we would never approve of them, let alone consider them to change medical policy.

It's called a sexist double-standard.

Progress is marked by the replacement of the old with the new and better. Science is always seeking to outdate itself. Instead of seeking new uses for a surgery, shouldn't "scientists" be seeking ways phase it out? Are we to believe that after a century, America medicine hasn't yet been able to find a better solution?

The bottom line is, any "medical benefit" that you say circumcision can afford, can already be afforded by other, more effective, less invasive means.

Even taking that well-worn 60% figure at face value, condoms would still be worlds more effective at preventing HIV in BOTH partners, not to mention other STDs and unwanted pregnancy.

"Scientists" who are "studying" circumcision may as well as also be "studying" new uses for the 8-track player or the guillotine.

There are better, more effective ways to prevent HIV, keep clean etc.

Circumcision "researchers" are being paid millions to pull BS "studies" out their rear ends, and the WHO/UNAIDS are smoking crack.

The day will come when these so-called African "studies" will be seen for the hoax that they are, and the US will have to apologize for treating the people of Africa as live human guinea pigs a la Guatemala.

Contributor: Michael Mooney
Michael Mooney  

Excellent article. Why is this type of rational perspective more rare than the nonsensical articles promoting circumcision? I wrote a more detailed, referenced article, viewable at: []

Contributor: Hugh Intactive
Hugh Intactive  

@Jaimes: "It isn't that I believe either side is right or wrong, it's that the issue isn't that important to me. When the decision has to be made, it will be a 5-second thought that is never questioned again. I think that there are many parents and future-parents like me. We understand both sides, but ultimately, we won't lose sleep over the decision, whether it's for or against."
Please think longer. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. What if HE questions it? What if HE loses sleep? What if he is one of these men: [] ?

Contributor: AndromedaJane

YES! I am strongly opposed to infant circumcision.

Contributor: smasmasma

When I found out I was having a boy I knew I would not be able to chop off a part of his body. I love this article!