(click the image to see a larger version)
2012 AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS CONFERENCE REPORT
Intact America attended the 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Conferene in New Orleans, Louisiana from October 20-23. Contrary to years past, when Intact America exhibited inside the conference, this year we were barred by the AAP from hosting a booth inside the conference's exhibition hall. Instead, we staged a major press conference and three-day sidewalk demonstration, protesting the AAP's recent Circumcision Task Force report endorsing routine infant circumcision.
Stories from the field
Dozens of demonstrators, including Intact America staff, gathered on a prominent street corner across from the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in downtown New Orleans. After we set up on Saturday morning, people quickly began taking notice--it was impossible not to see our signs.
Said Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America, “It was amazing. The presence of so many young men made it different, especially men who had the courage to speak out about the pain and suffering they’ve dealt with thanks to what was done to them as babies without their consent.”
Adam Zeldis, an intactivist who came to New Orleans for the demonstration, said, "For the most part, doctors chose to bow their heads and move past us in silence. Our signs were obvious and our message was clear: forced genital cutting is forced genital cutting and no matter which gender is the recipient, it is harmful. Very few of them antagonized us, but some of them—especially the international doctors—went out of their way to tell us that they agreed with us. One thing was for sure: they all knew that this was an issue. Ten years ago at these demonstrations doctors would blatantly laugh in amazement that anyone would be against circumcision. But times have changed, and finally the practice of restraining an infant and forcibly cutting his genitals is being given the fair controversy that it deserves."
Many protesters spoke with people outside the convention center. "As always, the laypeople surrounding the convention center were easier to speak with than the doctors," said Adam. "Some of my best conversations were with exhibitors, taxi cab drivers and random pedestrians. In one such conversation, a Jewish grandmother told us that her daughter-in-law had recently left her grandson intact and that she resented her daughter-in-law for it. She explained that she understood circumcision was for hygiene and cultural conformity. Two other demonstrators and I took turns debunking these common myths and she was receptive; in just 10 minutes of speaking with us, she had a complete revelation. I believe her exact words were: 'I actually feel enlightened. Maybe you guys were here for a reason so that you could mend my relationship with my daughter-in-law.'"
Marilyn Milos, RN—long considered one of the founders of the intactvist movement—noted, "There were lots of wonderful comments about our being at the conference. Doctors from European, Asian, and Latin American countries were all aghast at the AAP's position statement and the push for circumcision. There were also lots of thumbs up. Then, too, there were negative comments. One doctor said, 'Your signs are disgusting! You people are animals!' I said, 'We're not the ones cutting off normal parts of babies.' I wish I'd said, 'Animals don't cut off parts of their offspring!' Next time!
Thanks to intactivists like James Loewen, the Barefoot Intactivist, and many others, we were able to document some terrific moments from the rally:
Intactivists gather for a group shot on the sidewalk across from the Convention Center.
Georganne Chapin speaking at the Intact America press conference. Photo courtesy of the Barefoot Intactivist.
Veteran intactivist Gillian Longley, RN protesting at the Intact America sidewalk demonstration. Photo courtesy of the Barefoot Intactivist.
Several men, led by Jonathan Conte, staged a powerful street performance outside the convention center. Photo courtesy of the Barefoot Intactivist.
Intact America wristbands, buttons, and pamphlets. Photos courtesy of James Loewen.
The new Intact America informational handout explaining our mission.
For more photos, visit the Intact America Facebook page!