APRIL 2013: Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued a new report claiming the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks. Intact America called on the AAP to rescind this statement, but rather than engage in dialogue with us, the AAP kicked us out of its annual conference. So intactivists protested. And the world watched.
Now, the world has spoken. In its April issue of Pediatrics, the AAP has published an article signed by nearly 40 pediatricians, urologists, epidemiologists and other doctors from 17 countries, led by Dr. Marten Frisch from Denmark. Titled “Cultural Bias in the AAP’s 2012 Technical Report and Policy Statement on Male Circumcision,” the article criticizes the AAP’s report as utterly out of step with the increasing awareness among doctors and parents that routine infant circumcision is unnecessary and inherently risky.
It is with great privilege and gratitude that we honor these doctors as our Intactivists of the Month. They are:
Morten Frisch, MD, PhD; Yves Aigrain, MD, PhDb; Vidmantas Barauskas, MD, PhDc; Ragnar Bjarnason, MD, PhDd; Su-Anna Boddy, MDe; Piotr Czauderna, MD, PhDf; Robert P.E. de Gier, MDg; Tom P.V.M. de Jong, MD, PhDh; Günter Fasching, MDi; Willem Fetter, MD, PhDj; Manfred Gahr, MDk; Christian Graugaard, MD, PhDl; Gorm Greisen, MD, PhDm; Anna Gunnarsdottir, MD, PhDn; Wolfram Hartmann, MDo; Petr Havranek, MD, PhDp; Rowena Hitchcock, MDq; Simon Huddart, MDr; Staffan Janson, MD, PhDs; Poul Jaszczak, MD, PhDt; Christoph Kupferschmid, MDu; Tuija Lahdes-Vasama, MDv; Harry Lindahl, MD, PhDw; Noni MacDonald, MDx; Trond Markestad, MDy; Matis Märtson, MD, PhDz; Solveig Marianne Nordhov, MD, PhDaa; Heikki Pälve, MD, PhDbb; Aigars Petersons, MD, PhDcc; Feargal Quinn, MDdd; Niels Qvist, MD, PhDee; Thrainn Rosmundsson, MDff; Harri Saxen, MD, PhDgg; Olle Söder, MD, PhDhh; Maximilian Stehr, MD, PhDii; Volker C.H. von Loewenich, MDjj; Johan Wallander, MD, PhDkk; and Rene Wijnen, MD, PhDll.
The importance of the action they have taken cannot be underestimated.
The United States is the only Western country where doctors routinely cut baby boys for non-medical, purely cultural reasons. At conference after conference, doctors from Europe, Asia and Latin America tell us how horrified they are that:
- the foreskin is not seen as a normal functional body part, but rather an ugly, dirty nuisance;
- American doctors ignore basic ethics and perform medically unnecessary genital surgery on minors who cannot consent;
- the majority of American boys are still cut at birth.
Commenting on the AAP Task Force report, the international group of physicians say, “Seen from the outside, cultural bias reflecting the normality of nontherapeutic male circumcision in the United States seems obvious.… The report’s conclusions are different from those reached by physicians in other parts of the Western world, including Europe, Canada, and Australia.” They go on to show how the AAP’s report is flawed, systematically considering and rejecting the variety of medical reasons the AAP used to justify its position.
The international physicians also argue repeatedly that boys should be allowed to decide for themselves, when they are of an age to do so, whether to permanently alter their bodies to seek a level of protection against diseases for which there are less drastic, more effective preventive strategies.
“It has become clear that the AAP, not those of us in the intactivist movement who have argued for years against the surgery, is an outlier in the discussion about the efficacy and necessity for male circumcision,” said Georganne Chapin, founder and executive director of Intact America. “I applaud this international coalition of doctors for speaking the truth and standing on the side of ethics and human rights.”