By casting a cursory glance over any baby shower gift registry, you could be forgiven for thinking babies need a mountain of expensive equipment in order to survive. However, they're quite content with a lot less. All a baby really needs is love, attention, plenty of cuddles, somewhere safe and warm to live, and good nutrition. That's why my husband and I won't apologize for refusing to choose circumcision.
Personally, I think there are only a few circumstances in which the procedure is necessary. For instance, if a baby has a medical condition, or for religious reasons and purposes. As a student of world faiths and someone who has a Masters in religious education, I understand that for many Jewish and Muslim families circumcision is an important ceremony and a rite of passage.
However, most parents making the decision to allow their newborn baby to essentially have an amputation of an important body part, are not motivated by religious considerations at all. The "default" United States policy of promoting circumcision across the board is actually fairly unique. The United States has the world's highest rate of non-religious, neonatal circumcisions, at 57 percent, with the overall rate climbing as high as 65 percent. Globally, circumcision rates are much lower, as low as 15 percent in the UK and only 1-2 percent in Finland and Denmark.
So, while I am in no position to tell someone else what to do with their child, I am of the belief that, for the most part, circumcision is a wildly unnecessary procedure. That, among the following reasons, is why I refuse to apologize for taking a hard pass on the circumcision debate.
Absent of a diagnosed medical condition that requires one, there isn't any compelling reason to remove the foreskin.
People often claim that a motivation for having their child circumcised is so that they look the same as their dad. For me, that reasoning is bizarre. Families don't typically have naked portraits taken, or stand around comparing their bodies. All of us come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, so it's more than reasonable to believe little boys can understand that their penis may differ from their dad's and just as much as hair or eye color do. I just don't think that particular reason is a justification for an unnecessary operation.
Another heavily cited reason for going ahead with the snip, is that it helps to keep the penis clean. Children need to be taught how to care for all parts of their body, including their genitalia.
Many supporters of circumcision try to minimize the amount of pain the procedure causes by claiming the child is too young to feel it or quickly forgets about it.
An adult can tell you exactly how much something hurts, can ask you to stop, and can express themselves beyond simply screaming in pain. An infant, on the other hand and obviously, cannot. Circumcision has been found to be among the most painful of all neonatal procedures.
It Has Negligible Benefits
There are a few benefits to circumcision, including: a reduced risk of urinary tract infections, some sexually transmitted infections, penile cancer, and inflammation of the glans.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), however, admits these benefits are not compelling enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision, and many of the same protections can be afforded by learning proper hygiene and practicing safe sex.
It Can Be Dangerous
Circumcision is a surgical procedure and, like all surgery, carries risk. It can lead to infection, irritation and inflammation of the glans, and even the risk of injury to the penis.
It can also cause long-lasting damage. If the procedure is performed incorrectly, loss of sensation can occur and, when the child grows older, will not be able to feel anything during sex.
It Denies My Son His Bodily Autonomy
I don't believe us parents own our children's bodies and, as a result, we do not have the right to make permanent modifications to their already perfect form in order to fit our cultural perspectives of what is "normal" or "fashionable." The Danish medical association states that circumcision violates a baby's human rights and has suggested it should be made illegal.
If I told you that an unnecessary and painful surgery was going to be performed on your newborn, that it had minimal benefits, benefits that could also be achieved through basic hygiene and sexual health education, would you give your consent? Is the consent even yours to give?