A Story on Circumcision

 Posted by on 5 May 2010 at 7:00 am  Circumcision, Ethics, Health
May 052010

In response to Shea Levy’s post against circumcision — Why I Will Never Attend A Brit Milah, some folks on OGrownups have been discussing circumcision. I liked the following personal story by Kate so much that I asked her if I could post it here on NoodleFood. Happily, she agreed.

I would like to share my personal experience as a parent regarding circumcision. When I was pregnant with my son, I was on the fence as to whether or not to circumcise him. I was actually leaning more in the direction of having him circumcised. My husband and I talked about this for months (he was firmly against circumcision). My arguments for having it done were similar to those commonly espoused: I wanted him to look like Daddy; I wanted him to look like everyone else; I didn’t want him to have to worry about a potential increased risk for foreskin cancer; and I wanted him to be “clean”.

We both did a lot of research on the topic. We also talked to our pediatrician about it. To my surprise, she told us that the percentage of boys being circumcised in the U.S. is only 50%, and the percentage of boys being circumcised in our state (Washington) is only 40%. So, my argument for him looking like everyone else went out the window. She also said that foreskin cancer is extremely rare, and removing foreskin was a bit like removing a healthy appendix in order to prevent the possibility of appendicitis. She told us that keeping an uncircumcised penis clean is not an issue, as you simply have to teach the child how to do it (just as you would teach him how to clean any other part of his body). The decision to circumcise is essentially based either on religion or esthetics . As neither of us would circumcise our son for religious reasons, it was really a matter of esthetics.

At this point, I was leaning more towards not having our son circumcised. However, I was not completely convinced. During one of our birthing classes, the instructor showed us photos of a circumcision. I was horrified at what I saw, I and I began to cry. I could not believe that I had thought of putting my son through what to me looked like a mutilation of a perfectly good organ, simply because I preferred the looks of a circumcised penis. We decided not to have our son circumcised, and it is a decision we do not regret.

I recommend parents (or future parents) do a lot of research before making a decision, including interviewing your pediatrician.

You can find my own views of circumcision, as well as that of Leonard Peikoff, in this post.

Update: In the comments, “Restoring Tally” posted a link to these pictures of a circumcision. They’re very graphic, and I’m now even more horrified by the practice of routine circumcision. It might be done in a sterile hospital, but that doesn’t make the practice any less barbaric.

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