I’m heading to New Orleans on May 4 to protest outside the annual conference of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). As you may have read in Intact America’s last newsletter, we tried to rent a booth in the Exhibit Hall, but were rejected on the grounds that male circumcision is only “indirectly related to women’s health” and “…of only casual interest to members of ACOG.”
Indirectly related to women’s health? What does that even mean?
Of only casual interest to ACOG members? Now, that would be funny, except for the fact that obstetricians (OBs) perform the majority of the million infant circumcisions that take place each year in the United States! So why are they cutting babies?
For an OB, circumcision is business. A moderately busy Midwestern doctor can easily make an extra $36,000 in annual income, if he’s good at selling circumcisions to the families of the 200 baby boys he delivers (calculating a 90 percent circumcision rate, and a very conservative $200 per circumcision). If he delivers more babies, and charges more per surgery, the income escalates.
Add to the money the fact that, once you’ve started cutting babies, it’s really hard to stop. Denial sets in; fear of admitting that you might be doing something wrong takes over; you worry that if you say “no,” you might lose your client (the parent) to another doctor who’ll be happy to trim up her son’s genitals for a fee.
But there is absolutely no excuse for infant circumcision. It’s an outrage that ACOG not only refuses to allow intactivists to distribute educational materials and engage in conversations with its members at their convention, but actually disclaims any responsibility for perpetuating this violation of boys’ rights. And it’s time for America’s OBs—trained to operate on women’s reproductive organs—to stop selling a surgery that will permanently alter the bodies and future sexual experiences of their patients’ sons.
I hope you can join me in New Orleans as we carry the message that, just as a girl is entitled to autonomy and bodily integrity, when a boy is born, it’s HIS body, HIS rights. Obstetricians need to get out of the baby-cutting business. They need to keep their hands off baby boys’ genitals.