Jewish Mother on Circumcision

Stained glass artwork at The Jewish Mother restaurant (located down the street from Peaceful Parenting). Each time we go down to grab a bite to eat at The Jewish Mother, we think of Miriam Pollack and her wise words that have helped so many.

For additional information on Judaism, circumcision, 
and the Bris Shalom ceremony, see resources on this page.

Circumcision of Multiples Equals Multiple Mistakes

I reflect on Noble's experience here after speaking with not one, not two - but five - men so far this year who each shared that they discovered they are intact solely because they were born as a multiple, and too frail to endure the harsh cutting blade of circumcision surgery during a decade when "everyone was doing it." Common to what Noble mentions in her last paragraph here, each of these men said he grew up (happily) intact among cut peers in the U.S., but solely due to his 'luck' of being a twin born too early to be circumcised.

Our babies shouldn't have to 'luck out' to escape circumcision surgery only when they are weak, ill, or premature. All babies - multiples, singles, full-term, and early-born, deserve to be protected by the loving, gentle hands that bring them into this world. As parents, it is our duty to explore this subject completely. Thankfully, accurate information is easier to find today than it was when these five men were born. If it is something you have yet to look into, I recommend starting with any one of the many books on the subject, explore websites, read articles - and dig deeper. There is much to be said on the topic of keeping our children intact.

In addition, I applaud birth practitioners around the globe who refuse to stand by silently while the brutality of FGM and MGM is taking place around them. Noble and Sorger are just two of the many (too many to name here, really) who daily work with mothers and their babies; who know the perils of circumcision all too well; who refuse to be a part of the hand that cuts newborns without reason. It is foundationally hypocritical to advocate for 'gentle birth' (or 'natural birth') or work within the fields of birth and babies in North America and not also speak up clearly against MGM. Kudos to all of you who are truly advocating on behalf of your clients' health and birth outcome (mother and baby) and always being vigilant to "first, do no harm."

Twin boys, photographed by J Luna Photography; baby announcement by inacard

Excerpts from the outstanding book for parents expecting multiples, Having Twins and More, by Elizabeth Noble and Leo Sorger, M.D.

Soon after a mother of multiples has been cut (episiotomy or Caesarean), the knife is often readied for the newborn boy's penis. You can see step-by step illustrations of one of the many procedures that create this disaster here.

One hundred percent of baby boys oppose this mutilating surgery and so should you - their screams of betrayal and protest are ignored by those who are cutting. This abuse is typically done during the mother's postpartum stay (and in a room far away from where she can see and hear her babies). Dr. Sorger refuses to perform circumcision surgery and accept "blood money."

Until recently, most surgical procedures (including circumcision) were performed without anesthesia because of doctors' mistaken assumptions that babies do not feel pain. Babies were usually paralyzed for procedures with curare (Pancronium), a drug that left them unable to move or react in any way, but able to feel everything that was done to them. In 1986, parents of preterm babies, led by Jill Lawson, the mother of a baby who died after unanesthetized surgery, called public attention to this barbaric state of affairs. Recent research has shown that unanesthetized surgery is not only cruel, but dangerous. Stress from surgical pain leads to high incidence of complications that can cause disability or death.

Nevertheless, the practice of unanesthetized surgery continues. Circumcision is a regrettably common example of surgery that happens every 26 seconds in the United States without anesthesia. Clearly, parents have to supervise their babies' pain management and advocate for pain relief in the case of truly necessary surgeries. Before any surgical procedure, parents should discuss their concerns with the surgeon and especially with the anesthesiologist.

Circumcision also remains the most frequent surgical procedure performed on males in the United States; the number of baby boys cut in the year 2000 was 1,214,312 for a total cost of $2.3 billion. The national rate was about 60%, although it varied widely. [The CDC announced that the circumcision rate in the United States fell drastically since 2000, and was 32% in 2009.] Medicaid funds over 25% of foreskin amputations, which costs United States taxpayers directly over $37 million annually, and indirectly far more.

Many midwives and doulas follow the example of the late (Jewish born) mother, intactivist, and freebirth practitioner, Jeannine Parvati Baker, who would not attend the birth of any parents planning this barbaric act. [Read Baker's Perspectives on Violence here. When pressure was put on Baker to have a bris for her own son in the late 1960s, she refused. Hear more from her here.]

Europeans and Scandinavians look aghast when told that this is done in the United States. To them, circumcision is equivalent to one of the female genital mutilations performed in many regions of Africa and other parts of the world. There are laws in the United States against female genital mutilation [the FGM Bill], but inexplicably, not against male genital mutilation. No medical society in the world recommends circumcision, but it is pursued for profit by greedy physicians and by misinformed parents for a host of invalid reasons.

The tragic traumas (surgical, pharmaceutical, emotional, physical, and psychological) of Canadian twin David Reimer, who lost his penis after circumcision and was forced to undergo a sex change, is documented in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl. At age 14, "she" learned the truth and returned to his real male self (surgically and hormonally). However, his life was in shreds, unlike that of his co-twin, who was left intact.

To "look like Dad" (which becomes "to lack like Dad") is one of the common excuses given to deprive a baby boy of this protective and sexually significant part of his penis. However, one mother of identical twins, recently witnessed the screams of terror and bloody agony as her
first was circumcised, and refused to allow her co-twin to be cut. "But they won't look alike!" chastised her doctor. "Two wrongs don't make a right," was her reply.

Check resources completely for information to help you keep your son intact in the face of such abuse from some medical establishments. Be vigilant in hospitals where circumcisions are routine and all the babies in the nursery tend to be "done" - yours might be included. (There have been many lawsuits over inadvertent, as well as botched, circumcisions.) Just as the umbilical cord is commonly used for skin grafts, so are the amputated foreskins of baby penises. Make sure you protect any sons you may have against circumcision - take your whole baby home.

Preterm multiples often have the luck to escape, being too frail to undergo the operation (which has caused infection, hemorrhage, and even death in healthy, full-term babies). Most of the world's males are intact as nature intended, and happily so! Your sons will thank you for being part of the majority, which they will be.

For additional information on the prepuce (foreskin), intact care, and circumcision see:

Elizabeth Noble is the founder of the Women's Health Section of the American Physical Therapy Association, an expert on multiple pregnancy, and 40 years in the field of birth and babies. Visit her website at

Leo Sorger, M.D. is a board-certified obstetrician with 50 years experience in gentle birth of multiples.

Find their book, Having Twins and More, here, or request at your local bookseller and library.

Routine Infant Toe Removal Has Health Benefits

A parody of routine infant circumcision and its supposed "benefits."
By Joseph Lewis © 2010
Read more from Lewis at Joseph4GI

Toenails are a pain to keep clean. They accumulate dirt, and they take time to trim. If not properly washed, toe jam can develop between the toes and the foot will give off an unpleasant odor.

"Toe Jam" on a baby

The spaces between the toes are the perfect place to harbor bacteria that cause infection. Athlete's foot is such a problem in North America today that there is an entire industry based on foot hygiene products.

Athlete's Foot

The fungus that can and does grow underneath the toenails takes so long to get rid of. Fungal treatments like Lamisil and Lotrimin make a killing of money off of people with fungal problems.

Furthermore, toenails can become ingrown, requiring the need for surgery. Compound the hygiene and fungus products with the need for surgery, and having toes becomes very expensive, very fast.

Toenail Fungus

When toenails become ingrown, they sometimes require medical intervention. I know quite a few guys that had to have part of their nail root killed because they had recurring ingrown toenails.

Ingrown Toenail

If your family has a history of diabetes, you may wish to consider removing your children's toes. If your child gets diabetes, s/he may develop a condition called "hammertoe," where poor blood circulation causes the toes to become necrotic, becoming a gangrene hazard, not only for the toes themselves, but for the rest of the foot. It is such a common incident, and there is a danger that the wound(s) may not heal correctly, causing the entire foot to be gangrenous. I know of a few cases where the wounds did not heal, and the gangrene kept spreading. The patients had to undergo surgery after surgery, until the gangrene had left them with a stump up to their thigh. Some patients simply died in recovery.


Caretakers for the elderly already have to deal with so much. They have to feed and wash old people, and sometimes, if the men are intact, they have to (gulp) pull back the foreskin and rinse! On top of that, they have to take care of their patients' feet. This means washing them, clipping their toenails (that never stop growing) and making sure there is no gunk between the toes or fungus under the nail beds. It would make elderly caretakers' jobs SO much easier if their patients simply didn't have any toes.

Babies' toes pose a specific health risk for a very common condition known as "hair tourniquet." A parent's hair wraps around the baby's toe, quickly cutting off circulation. If the condition becomes severe, the baby must be taken to the ER and have the hair removed immediately. Occasionally, the toe is lost. Clearly, parents may see that cutting off a child's toes is in the child's best interest. If parents can demand a doctor circumcise their son, then it only follows that they should be able to demand a doctor remove their child's toes.

Hair Tourniquet

And, because a parent believes it is for the best, a physician has the duty to oblige. Why, if it's done as baby, s/he won't remember it!

If they use enough anesthesia, the child will not even feel the pain.

Having your toes removed as an adult is simply no fun.

Especially if diabetes runs in the family, physicians should advise parents to cut off their babies' toes. After all, they may need to have them removed later in life anyway.

My girlfriend's cousin's boyfriend's aunt's baby had to have a toe removed because of a hair tourniquet. If I ever have a baby, I'm surely going to have his toes removed.

In short, having toes is a HEALTH HAZARD! Cutting off a child's toes has health benefits. The AAP should recommend that all doctors advise parents that they remove their child's toes in infancy. It is simply better to remove a baby's toes when s/he is too young to remember and won't know what s/he is missing later in life. Parents and doctors that choose not to remove a child's toes are denying him/her of potential health benefits.


Lewis' End Note: I've already received responses that this is simply a hilarious parody. But to be clear, the humor was not intended at all. It sounds humorous doesn't it? These are actual, serious arguments used by people who defend circumcision. Use them with anything else, and the absurdity is obvious.

New to the topic? Learn more: Should I Circumcise? The pros and cons

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