Dec 1, 2011

Circumcision

I am an American and I am not having my son circumcised. I feel like I am at a support group! Since being pregnant I have realized circumcision has become a very hot topic in the States. Honestly, I get it. I thought it was a necessary thing to do to all infant boys? I quickly learned I was all wrong...

My husband is Australian and uncircumcised. Never having any issues with it or knowing anyone who did, of course he had no intention of ever circumcising his son at birth. I on the other hand grew up in America, only familiar with circumcision, I had every intention of having my son circumcised, even though I had no religious reason to. In fact, I am almost certain that if I married an American I would not be writing this.

Knowing my husband's passion about this topic, I knew I needed to build a strong case. I decided to start by making a list of reasons why I thought my son needed to be circumcised. This was honestly all I could come up with…

  1. Because all boys are circumcised!
  2. Because it is necessary for his penile health!
  3. Because I don’t want him to be the only guy in the locker room with a different looking penis. And then feel the need to defend himself.
  4. Because…. That’s Why!

At that point I realized I had no real reason other than that is all I have ever known. I had no facts or research to back up my claim… As far as I knew, all boys are circumcised and I think somewhere along the way I heard it is cleaner and healthier than not. I really thought it was just necessary. I was so wrong! There is no research to prove the health benefits or necessity of the procedure. NONE! On the other side of the coin, I have read horror stories about circumcision...

Again, I do not want to get into a debate and then get attacked. But, I do want to at least provide you with some of the facts and information that helped me learn more about circumcision and the way it is viewed around the world.

  1. The Origin and History- http://www.historyofcircumcision.net/ and of course Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision
  2. The statements and beliefs of the pediatric associations around the world- http://www.cirp.org/library/statements/
  3. Horror Stories- http://jewishcircumcision.org/spectator.htm
  4. World Averages- I found this on wikipedia but it was taken from The World Health Organization (WHO) website, listing the percentages of males that are circumcised, which in turn showed me the large number of males that are not…
Estimates of the proportion of males that are circumcised worldwide vary from one-sixth[101] to a third.[165] The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that 664,500,000 males aged 15 and over are circumcised (30% global prevalence), with almost 70% of these being Muslim.[9] Circumcision is most prevalent in the Muslim world, parts of Southeast Asia, Africa, the United States, the Philippines, Israel, and South Korea. It is relatively rare in Europe, Latin America, parts of Southern Africa, and most of Asia and Oceania. Prevalence is near-universal in the Middle East and Central Asia.[9] The WHO states that "there is generally little non-religious circumcision in Asia, with the exceptions of the Republic of Korea and the Philippines".[9] The WHO presents a map of estimated prevalence in which the level is generally low (< 20%) across Europe,[9] and Klavs et al. report findings that "support the notion that the prevalence is low in Europe".[166] In Latin America, prevalence is universally low.[167] Estimates for individual countries include Spain,[168] Colombia[168] and Denmark[169]less than 2%, Finland 0.006%[170] and 7%,[171] Brazil[168] 7%, Taiwan[172] 9%, Thailand[168] 13% and Australia[173] 58.7%. The WHO estimates prevalence in the United States and Canada at 75% and 30%, respectively. [9] Prevalence in Africa varies from less than 20% in some southern African countries to near universal in North and West Africa.[167]

Ok, so the research clearly proved to me, that at the very least, my reasons for having our son circumcised were not really anything but superficial and misguided. I also realized that if we moved to Australia, our son would not be the only kid in the locker room uncircumcised. Most of all I started to realize I knew nothing about circumcision, the how's or the why's. As I learned more and talked with my husband, I knew we were not going to have our son circumcised. For starters, we have no religious reason to. Plus, I could not find any research that showed me why it was medically necessary to have the procedure done at birth.

I would be lying if I said I was not still a little apprehensive and scared about this decision. Again, I am an American, circumcision has been bred into my culture as a very necessary thing. However, I do see my husband and his brothers, and friend's for that matter, as living proof that circumcision is not necessary for penile survival. Plus, if I have the procedure done my son will have to live with it, not me. If he needs it done or wants it done later in life he can.

I have been talking with friends and peers about their personal choices and am pleasantly surprised to also find out that a few of them will also not be having their son circumcised either. My doctor told us it is becoming a less common practice and that some insurance companies were no longer paying for it. I guess the times are changing and my son will be one of the kids to follow that trend.


My friend in the UK told me a little while ago that her husband and she were talking about me and laughing at the idea of the UK healthcare system paying for “an unnecessary procedure.” She said it in such a way I realized she simply meant what she said, not that Americans were fools for performing circumcision on 75% of the male babies born each year, but that it is such an uncommon practice in Europe that her views are completely opposite mine, in no way did circumcising her son ever cross her mind. I don’t think she will ever know how much that helped me to realize the minute I take my son out of the USA, I will not have to answer to anyone about why he is not circumcised.


I want everyone to know I think this is a big decision and one that should be made between the mother, father and doctor. My mom and sister were seriously opposed to our decision. Luckily, after my mother did research of her own she came around to our understanding. My sister on the other hand circumcised her two sons and still stands by that being the best decision for her boys. This one is a hard one, and I wish you and your partner as much peace as possible in making YOUR decision.

Two confused parents=One amused baby Hopelessly we are trying raise a baby who is clearly smarter than both of us. April is an award-winning writer and blogger. Her work has been published in over ten countries and four languages. From books to newspapers, to print/online magazines and everything in between, you can find her work. For more on April, Visit AprilMcCormick.com

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for this very thought provoking post. I'm American and circumcision has always been the norm for me too. I never really gave it a second thought. I agree with both sides of the topic and that you should do what feels right to you and your husband. I'm having a girl and have to say I'm a bit relieved I don't have to make such a huge decision right now. If I ever end up having a boy, I know whatever side my husband and I agree on will be right for us and our son. Everyone else be damned!

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  2. My fiance and I were at odds regarding this issue. After seeing so many botched circumcisions when I was a nanny and knowing it was an unnecessary procedure, I was opposed to our son having the surgery. Christian wanted our son to be circumcised because he was concerned what other boys would say in the locker room and also because he himself was circumcised. We finally decided that we would wait until our son was old enough to decide for himself. A few weeks later, we found out we were expecting a little lady instead, so it became a moot point.

    As much as I am personally opposed to circumcising infants, I realize why some parents choose to do so and respect their decision. I applaud the fact that you did research, though, instead of having it done simply because it's the norm in the US. So many parents do not do so.

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  3. Good for you. I am due in March and was positive that I was having a boy. I knew it would be a struggle to convince my American husband that I did not want our baby to be circumcised but I was prepared to put up a fight for my convictions. We found out baby is a girl and I was a little relieved not to have to make that decision and try to defend my choice to anyone that I told. I completely agree with your rational about the lack of medical necessity in this procedure and I commend you for taking a stand, regardless of how most Americans feel about it.

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  4. To Jess, Moonshine & Jessi, Thank you for your support. This shows that the "popular" view on Circumcision is changing. I will admit when we found out we were having a boy I thought, oh crap we are going to have to cross the circumcision bridge! But, I can say I am very glad I did, I know I am making the right choice for my son.

    All the very best to you ladies with your little ladies! ; )

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  5. I have decided not to circumcise my son and here are my reasons: I am not religious and think that it is barbaric. I cannot fathom why, if we teach our girls to be clean, why we can't do the same for our boys. Noone is going to tell me that my son is deformed at birth and that he needs to be changed. He's perfect the way he came out just like my daughter.

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    Replies
    1. Damn right sista!! My son is perfect and beautiful. There is no doubt in my mind we made the right decision not to circumcise. All the very best to you and your family!

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