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Friday, April 1, 2011

Why We Won't Be Cutting Our Baby Boy

Growing up with circumcised younger brothers I never thought much about the circumcision issue; that was just a normal part of what happened at the hospital after a baby boy's birth. Once I got married I realized circumcision was an issue my husband and I would eventually have to discuss and make a decision on, if we ever had a son. But we had two girls first, so I happily put off thinking about it too much. This pregnancy, when I found out we are having a boy, I knew it was time to dig into the facts versus myths of circumcision and figure out what I felt and believed would be best for our son. And to talk about it with my husband. It wasn't an issue he was keen on exploring, but he recognized that it was important. So he tolerated my discussions and began learning the facts for himself. This site was one of the most helpful for both of us, as it has an extensive collection of doctors, nurses, and others who quote facts and explain their positions against circumcision. This site also includes many videos, some of which my husband and I watched, which hit me harder than anything (as I will mention later).

If we still lived in Ohio, I wouldn't feel so much like I need to defend my husband's and my decision not to circumcise our son. But in Utah, circumcision rates are still pretty high, even though it has nothing to do with religion. The general attitude I got from friends and physicians early on was an offhand, "If you have a baby boy he'll be more expensive because of the circumcision." It bothers me that it's still such a cultural thing here, and for no good reason--because when something is this much a part of the culture, many people simply accept it and do it without knowing why or even thinking about it.

Fortunately, the rates of U.S. circumcision are going down--and recently they went down quite a lot, as I learned at this site. From 2006 to 2009 U.S. routine circumcision rates went down from 56.2% to 32.5%. Amazing! I'm sure this is due, in part, to Medicaid in many states no longer covering circumcisions, but hopefully it also is due to more parents taking an active role in the decision (or deciding to be inactive about it).

Here is one parent's list of 50 reasons why not to circumcise (including facts vs myths), which goes along with many of my reasons. But I'll also list my own 3 main reasons here:
  • We never considered our infant girls to be imperfect and in need of surgery, why should we feel anything should be done to "fix" a normal infant boy? Most of us look upon countries that circumcise girls as barbaric, so why is it okay to routinely do it to boys? God created boys that way for a reason (and more than one, actually).
  • Babies can't be anesthetized properly, and the excruciating pain they feel with circumcision is very real. I couldn't even watch the whole video clip on this site it disturbed me so much. I wanted to bawl my eyes out. I have never in my life heard a newborn cry like this and it broke my heart. I don't want that done to my precious baby!
  • Such a personal decision about something that affects the most intimate aspects of a person's life should be that person's decision. Not his mother's, not his father's, but his alone.
Finally, I must add this, as a sort of disclaimer:

My youngest brother, who was adopted from foster care, was not circumcised at birth and after he came to our family he developed infection after infection in that area. These were painful infections that antibiotics didn't do a good enough job taking care of, and finally more than one doctor told my mom that the only way to stop the infections for good was to have my brother circumcised. So, at the age of four, the poor kid had to have surgery. While that was quite painful for him and he was miserable for a few days, he was old enough to be anesthetized properly before and after, and my parents only did it because it was medically advised and they felt it was necessary (yes, they've changed their views somewhat on the matter from when their biological sons were babies). He also didn't have to have it constantly rubbing on a diaper. So while I understand that in a very few rare cases circumcision is medically necessary, that is far from the case for most boys. And, at least if your son fits into this rare category, you know it has to be done, you're not guessing and taking a risk.

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