Genital Autonomy Pumpkins!

By Danelle Frisbie © 2010

Whether or not my son will grow up to be a baby-saver is yet to be seen. But he did a great job selecting the perfect pumpkin for our genital autonomy carving. You can download the pumpkin carving pattern that I sketched by hand (and had help cleaning up for a final version) here.

a little help from Dad

These tall pumpkins were heavier than first meets the eye...

Helping to clean out the 'good stuff' inside (for pumpkin seed baking!) and the carving begins...

I enjoy keeping the cut out pumpkin parts intact, to replace them for a silhouette style look in the dark. It is something I have fond memories of my dad doing with his funny pumpkin ears, eyes and noses when we were little.

We had a good (not so creepy) time doing a little in-the-dark photo shoot:

Above: with the GA person in place for the lighted silhouette effect

Below: with the GA person removed for the natural fully 'carved' effect

After we finished carving our GA pumpkin here on the homefront, we found that another friend did just the same. Guggie Daly writes at The Daily Guggie Daly and showcased some pumpkins here. Her creation reads, "Circumcision: The more you know...the SPOOKIER it gets!"

Mom to a brand new little boy, born unassisted in water at home under the harvest moon, Daly recently noted that, "I did not 'choose' to keep my son intact any more than parents 'choose' to let their newborns keep their legs, arms, nose, etc. It's a non-decision." Isn't that the truth!

A wise, yet commonsense thought for the season:

"Remember: Carve pumpkins, not babies!"
~ Chris McCaw

For additional resources on intact information:

In spirit of the season Christina from Intact Iowa shares this photo of her son


Genital Autonomy Pumpkin Carving Contest!! 

1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners (as voted on by the Saving Our Sons and peaceful parenting communities) will receive a whole stash of genital integrity items ($20 value) to share in your area and save more babies from this spooky horror.

Request a set of Halloween Info Cards to share here

UPDATE: These sketches and pumpkins were carved in 2009. At the time there was no other existing symbol to represent our core beliefs of genital autonomy and advocacy in this area. Pumpkins were carved for fun, as a family, and shared with the community. As of 2013, the NOCIRC Child Symbol is a trademarked symbol. Per their request, please refrain from using the symbol in the future, for any reason, including family pumpkin carving at home, as it is reserved for their exclusive use. 

copyright free symbol, created by Megan Oregon in 2011, and signed into the public domain for use by any and all advocates of genital autonomy is available to use for future pumpkin carving family fun. 

Genital Autonomy Pumpkin Carving Pattern

To learn more about the genital autonomy symbol, please visit:

To read of how the genital autonomy pumpkin carving pattern came to be and see some photos of pumpkins peaceful parenting readers have sent in, see Genital Autonomy Pumpkin Carving.

You may need to click to open our image in a new window, save, and print as large as you need for your individual pumpkin size.

UPDATE: These sketches and pumpkins were carved in 2009. At the time there was no other existing symbol to represent our core beliefs of genital autonomy and advocacy in this area. Pumpkins were carved for fun, as a family, and shared with the community. As of 2013, the NOCIRC Child Symbol is a trademarked symbol. Per their request, please refrain from using the symbol in the future, for any reason, including family pumpkin carving at home, as it is reserved for their exclusive use. 

A copyright free symbol, created by Megan Oregon in 2011, and signed into the public domain for use by any and all advocates of genital autonomy is available to use for future pumpkin carving family fun. 

A Letter to My Intact Son: Why I Kept You Whole

By Ashley Goldstein © 2010
Dear Diego,

As you know, you are my first born. You are the child that taught me how to be in tune with natural living. You have erased much of my ignorance and made me grow up before necessary. I owe it to you to give you the best, and try everything I can to keep you innocent and out of harm's way. I love you more than I love living. This is a letter to you, my beautiful boy, explaining why I chose to keep you intact when the rest of the country is cutting.

You will probably be reading this when you are old enough to understand statistics, emotional reasoning, human rights, and what circumcision is (that is, if I taught you correctly). So I will start with the emotional stuff you might have already heard from me while growing up. It's a no brainier that I am of Jewish descendant, brought up in the hands of the Judaic Religion. We attended temple, your eldest uncle and 2nd cousins had a bar/bat mitzvah, and much of your distant family speaks Yiddish and Hebrew. We followed all the holidays and the children were taught the history of our people, but the males of the family were special in the way of becoming Jewish. On the 8th day of life, a newborn male is given a Brit Milah. The Brit Milah is the ceremony to welcome the newborn into Judaism by giving him a Hebrew name and a circumcision. A female newborn is just given the Hebrew name. I never wondered why this was the case, until I learned the little soccer player in my tummy was blessed with an anteater between his legs.

I always wished for a boy as my first born. I was terrified to have a daughter (an irrational fear that I have overcome) and cried tears of joy when I knew I was having a son. Your father couldn't have smiled brighter and your grandmother cried. Why she cried is something I still do not know of at this time. I never asked and just assumed it was because she knew I would go through hell over the circumcision idea (we had discussed circumcision once or twice before finding out your gender and they knew I was basing the decision on your dad, who is intact).

You probably already know what I went through with your grandparents, uncles and great-grandmother over circumcision, and if you don't, I will have no problem discussing this all after you have read this letter. But this letter is not for me to vent - it is for me to express my love for you - all of you.

Because my family went through so much trouble trying to convince me to circumcise you, my brother going so far as to print out pro-circumcision information and place it on my desk with a note, I wanted to know what it was all about. Growing up, I always asked, "Why?" I didn't want to do something if I didn't know why and how it was done. I have always been natural minded, not wanting to litter, waste or live beyond human ability, so to hear that something you are born with is bad made me curious. Why would nature have every single male grow this skin when it's harmful?

So I turned to my computer and your father. Surely since he is intact, others must be too! I thought circumcision was something that happened to every boy and only a few were kept whole. I was 15, and ignorant to everything but the things I was taught growing up. I spent many days using Google. I came to the conclusion that I had been lied to. Circumcision was done to very few and keeping a boy intact was decided for many. Europe considered it a barbaric act and many people equated it to Female Circumcision. There were activists called INTACTivists, solely fighting for the rights to genital integrity. I saw pictures of botched circumcisions, scars and videos of poor babies screaming while the doctor explains to that he is only crying because he is strapped down and not because he is slicing open his penis. I became angered and my motherly instincts kicked in to fight for you, again.

I would have been angered if someone cut me when I was a baby (since female circumcision wasn't illegal until I was 5 years old) so I had to assume you would be angered if someone cut you without your consent. What if you wanted your foreskin? And I had taken it away, for you to never get back? That didn't set right in my mind. Circumcision is permanent. I wouldn't tattoo you without you wanting it. I wouldn't force food down your throat if you pushed away because that's not my choice to make. Your penis wasn't mine. It is not anyone's but yours. You feel the pleasure/pain when it is messed with. You are the one it is attached to, so shouldn't you decide if you want a part of it to stay with you? The answer is simple: yes. I wanted you to tell me if you wanted to keep your foreskin, but you couldn't. Now you can when you are older, and when you know how it feels to have a foreskin, and I feel no guilt. If you don't want your foreskin as you grow, still no guilt because you can remove it on your own terms. But for me to say, "My son, I know you will hate this foreskin as you grow, let me get rid of it now," seemed strange in my mind. How would I know? The case is easy - I didn't know.

I had read that circumcision interferes with breastfeeding and I was so determined to breastfeed you without problems that this hit me the hardest. What if I did decide to cut you, and you didn't latch, and needed a bottle of formula? My ultimate goal/dream was to nurse you. If I was to fail I would take it to heart and never get over it. Little did I know how much I would go through with your short tongue and allergies, so I bet if you had been cut, I would have failed as I predicted. I would have a hurting baby boy, hurting breasts full of milk that I wouldn't be able to get rid of, and a baby trying to get comfort out of something made in a factory/lab. I wanted to be your comfort, for that warmth to be human and not from the stove. I needed you close by me, and selfishly, I needed you to reduce my risk for breast cancer as my mother was a breast cancer survivor. I never wanted to go through what she did. I left you intact, and you nursed whenever you wanted it, not needing the comfort to settle a pain that didn't exist, but none the less wanting it anyway.

I was not afraid of you being made fun of. Children are cruel and will make fun of you for being beautiful, kind and generous. Not much you can't do that children won't make fun of you for, so when I was given that argument, I blew it off. What I was afraid of was infections. I was told over and over again that no matter what, you WILL get an infection and it can only be treated by circumcision. I turned to the internet once again, that it being the only place I could go. I talked to many grown men who have never had an infection, or have only had one and it was treated easily with medicine. Non-painful medicine. I was content with that. That even if you did get an infection, you would just get medicine like you would if you got a sore throat or the flu. No different except in the area that it is in. I have gotten a few UTIs and yeast infections. They aren't a big deal and I knew if you got one, you also would be fine and not die. It would be another experience to learn from about the human body and the world around us.

We live in a house with running water and we always will. Keeping you clean as you grew older and your foreskin became retractable wasn't something I would be worried about. I know you could just rinse it like you do the rest of your body. You may not want to hear this, but I have taken showers with your father, I have seen how easy it is to clean, and that it takes no extra time or effort. I wasn't worried that cleaning your foreskin would be a chore.

Little did I know when I was pregnant with you that the year you would be born the circumcision rate would drop from 50% to 33% in the U.S., and it is predicted to continue dropping. Hopefully that was right, and you are among the majority instead of the minority. We may not even be living in the U.S. by the time you are reading this, therefore you definitely won't be the odd man out! I hope you grew up loving your body for what it is and how it was created. I hope you appreciate the decision I made for you and decide the same for your sons. I love you and am lucky to have such a great son to teach me the facts of life, human anatomy, and the ways of natural, healthy living.

Love unconditionally,
Your mommy!

Goldstein is a teen intactavist, lactavist and cloth diapering mama to Diego. She blogs about her daily struggles with her family, herself and the world around her at Fridge Magnets. A mommy by day and a student by night, she is on her way to change the world one reader at a time.

For additional information on the prepuce organ (foreskin), intact care and circumcision see: Are You Fully Informed?


Who Are You Calling an Intactivist?

An Intactivist Responds to the Death of Baby Joshua Haskins and the Virtual Mudslinging.

By Jennifer Coias © 2010

Intactivists are social reformers and, as such, have a long-standing history of ruffling feathers and challenging the mainstream. While intactivism is not new to criticism and attacks from those with opposing views, I’ve never witnessed something as volatile as the virtual mudslinging that ensued during this past week. Intactivists everywhere have been blamed, attacked and even threatened over what appears to be a complex web of lies and gossip as well as a general misunderstanding of the intactivist position concerning the death of baby Joshua. In order to clear up such a loaded debacle I find it necessary to speak for my community and explain the nature of our interest in the events that lead to Joshua’s death, as well as, to address the backlash concerning our community’s response to the this tragedy.

Before I delve into the details about the community’s true response to Joshua’s passing and the allegations leveled against the intactivist community, I’d like to take a minute to outline who intactivists are and what intactivists do. I firmly believe that much of this misunderstanding stems from the fact that the general public genuinely does not understand the work of intactivism. This ignorance leads to hasty generalizations, unfair accusations, and, ultimately, resentment toward a group of people who have done nothing to warrant such foul treatment.

Readers need to know, first and foremost, that simply being a person who is against circumcision is not the definition of an intactivist. Simply being a parent who did not circumcise their child(ren) does not make a person an intactivist. A person who was circumcised as a minor (a victim) and is now upset about what happened to them is also not necessarily an intactivist. Finally, it should be known that intactivists are not anti-circumcision. Intactivists are solely concerned with forced circumcision of minors and take no position against the personal choices of consenting adults with regards to their own bodies.

So what is an intactivist and what do they do?

- An intactivist is someone researches heavily to gather scientific evidence for the purpose of educating society and medical professionals as to: the functions of the intact genitalia; the proper care and natural development of the intact genitalia; the true, documented risks and complications of circumcision; and the harms of performing genital reduction surgery on non-consenting minors.

- An intactivist is someone who spends a great deal of time reviewing the following: circumcision statements and the ethical code statements of medical associations from around the world, the history of circumcision, the endless studies conducted for the purpose of either supporting or denouncing circumcision, human rights literature, litigation involving circumcision and any other material that involves circumcision.

- On the internet platform, some intactivists engage in open forum debates for the purpose of using reason, logic and scientific evidence to combat irrational thinking and to debunk common myths about circumcision and intact genitalia, however, other intactivists prefer to seek out parents who are in need of information. Many intactivists provide parents, both on the internet and in person, with information and resources so that they can make an informed decision before subjecting their child to this non-therapeutic surgery.

- At the activist level, intactivists participate in marches and peaceful demonstrations around the globe and push for legislation to regulate routine infant circumcision.

- Intactivists are primarily concerned with promoting bodily integrity - the right to a whole body - as one of the most essential and basic human rights granted to every person regardless of age, gender, race, nationality, religion, class and/or culture (meaning your body belongs to YOU), thereby giving a voice to our most innocent and fragile of citizens: babies and children.

The events leading up to Joshua’s death

Joshua was the newborn son of Jill and Shane Haskins and his short life was plagued with a series of heart complications due to congenital heart defect (CHD) and specifically: hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The events surrounding Joshua’s death were posted publicly by his mother, Jill, via her blog; however, have since been removed. For this reason, I will summarize a few of the events leading to the loss of this loved baby boy, as told by his mother.

The day prior to Joshua’s death, his parents consented to an elective circumcision. The doctor who performed the surgery accidentally severed an artery in the penis which resulted in hemorrhaging. The doctor applied pressure and powders to attempt to stop the bleeding, but even after multiple hours of doing so, was unsuccessful.. Only after 6.5 hours of bleeding did a pediatric surgeon finally come to see Joshua’s wounded penis. At that point the surgeon recognized that an artery had been cut and informed the his parents that he would need a couple stitches to stop the bleeding. That evening Jill recounted the events in a teary, heart wrenching blogpost titled, I Almost Killed My Son. Jill wrote:
Right at this moment, Joshua is now back on 85% oxygen through his nasal cannula, his stats are in the upper 60s, he’s drugged, pale, and his crit levels are 41. They are going to give him until midnight and run his crit levels again. If they have not risen, then he will receive yet another blood transfusion.

I should have known better, I should have said no. I had hoped that he would do well and that it wouldn't be such a big deal. But instead I almost killed my child by consenting....I’m watching him sleep and I’m struggling with extreme guilt over all this. I put him through it, Shane and I chose to have this done to him. It wasn’t necessary. Why did we do that? Why is this so freaking hard?

Early the following morning, Joshua went into cardiac arrest and tragically departed this world. He was seven weeks old. Following his death, Jill’s friend, Carla, reported on the blog that the hospital doctors had, "reassured them over and over that that circumcision had nothing to do with Joshua’s death."

Jill and Carla have both reported that there were several mean, attacking comments left by readers in response to the blogposts about Joshua’s death. From there it was assumed by Jill, blog readers, and even some intactivists that the intactivist community, or at least some members of the community were heartlessly bullying, threatening and blaming this grieving mother and family. There were a few pro-circumcision people who told others that intactivists were "behind it" and telling their readers to bully Joshua's parents. Jill tweeted to the Ellen Degeneres show, “I just lost my 7 wk old son today. died in my arms. the anti circumcision community is bullying. he died of CHD not circ. help.”

Intactivists Respond

Why can’t the real intactivist “just shut the f*** up” (as was requested by this blogger) about the death of this infant boy? Well the answer is rather simple: duty. Duty to Joshua and duty to every other innocent baby boy subjected to genital reduction surgery. As a community that seeks truth and transparency regarding the issue of circumcision, we have an obligation to speak up when what is being reported is inconsistent with the facts, especially when the facts would tend to show that circumcision was the primary culprit in the death of a defenseless child. As tempting as it might be to just bury our heads in the sand and let our knowledge and experience go unused, doing so would be a disservice to our society, to parents, and to the boys who we work so diligently to protect. Our end goal is to protect non-consenting minors from the harms of circumcision and to prevent irresponsible actions and decisions, which result in pain and suffering, from going unpunished and undocumented.

Mistakes are a part of life, but unless we take the time to recognized and learn from those mistakes they will continue to happen again and again, as has been the case for little boys subjected to non-therapeutic circumcision. One could say that without mistakes and taking the time to process and learn from mistakes there can be no true progress. Based upon the events surrounding Joshua’s death, as presented by his mother, there are enough inconsistencies and red flags that make it well-worth the time to investigate his death.

Regardless of how things turned out for Joshua, the hospital doctors made some serious errors in judgment which put Joshua at significantly increased risk, plain and simple. That said, let’s take a minute to examine some of the facts and inconsistencies as well as address some intactivist concerns regarding little Joshua’s death.

When considering the evidence available to us it is virtually impossible for Joshua’s doctors to make the claim that Joshua’s death was entirely unrelated to the complications of his circumcision. This past May, Peaceful Parenting posted an article which synthesized research about the well documented risk of cardiac arrest and hemorrhage resulting from circumcision. These are real risks for a even healthy newborns and the harsh reality is that circumcision surgery is extremely taxing on little hearts. Readers should know that professional medical and health organizations such as the RACP, AAP, CPS and others have even listed circumcision as contraindicated for unstable infants.

The day prior to Joshua’s surgery Jill blogged:
Now that Joshua is is ‘somewhat’ stable condition, the doctor didn’t want to wait any longer to get it done. There is a risk that comes with having Joshua circumcised. Once babies are bigger, they run a higher risk of bleeding too much. The longer we wait, the higher the risk of bleeding. So the doctor ordered for it to be done TODAY.

Following his death Jill’s friend Carla posted the news of his death with the following explanation, “Put simply, he has been working his heart since birth. Every day was a stress on his heart and it was just not able to continue.” So based on his mother’s perception, Joshua was somewhat stable; however, based on the doctor’s testimony that each and every day was a stress on his heart, it is clear that Joshua was in no way stable, and therefore not a candidate for elective surgeries.

Additionally, Joshua hemorrhaged for 6.5 hours before a surgeon came to assess his condition. His mother described how they were applying pressure and a powder to stop the bleeding but nothing worked because, unbeknownst to her, the doctor who performed the surgery had actually severed an artery. This level of hemorrhaging causes the heart to work much harder and beat faster due to a rise in blood pressure. Combine that with the extra work the heart already had to do during the actual operation, and you have one extremely tired little heart. A seven hour workout for an already fragile heart will have lasting effects, even into the following day. The heart is a muscle and just as you can feel soreness or tiredness the next day after a big workout, the heart also gets weak and tired after a big workout. If everyday stress was enough for Joshua’s heart to give out, would it not stand to reason that the 6.5 hours of extra work his heart did the previous day could have been the finger that pulled the trigger of a loaded gun? How can a medical doctor reason that "everyday stress" caused Joshua’s death but not the added exhaustion from hours of hemorrhaging and cortisol spikes (stress hormones that tax the heart muscle) the previous day?

Finally, it is still unclear whether Joshua received a blood transfusion, but if so, this is another factor that could have lead to cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is a well documented risk of blood transfusions. It is entirely possible that the blood transfusion, which would have been required as a result of the hemorrhaging, could have caused little Joshua to go into cardiac arrest. In fact, there were a cascade of medical interventions that ensued after the complications of his circumcision. Given this reality, there are simply too many factors surrounding Joshua’s circumcision complications and subsequent medical interventions to rule out circumcision as a cause of death.

It is highly appropriate to point out that the blatant negligence of the hospital, and to question how these actions could have played a role in the loss of an innocent life.

-Should doctors have ever cut into the most sensitive, nerve-laden part of this fragile boy’s body knowing that he had this preexisting condition and that he was not in stable enough condition to manage even the stresses of everyday living? Why didn’t these doctors honor their oath to do no harm and to put the interest of their patient first?

-Should this NICU infant have been left to bleed for almost seven hours without being assessed by a surgeon when it is well known that even an ounce of blood loss is enough to cause hypovolemic shock and 2.3 ounces of blood loss in a healthy newborn results in death by cardiac arrest secondary to exsanguination?

-Should doctors have openly pressured Joshua’s parents to consent to a non-therapeutic surgery, claiming that the older he was, the higher the risk, especially considering that most parents of extremely fragile NICU babies are advised to wait a full year before electing to circumcise, should they choose to do so, at a time when the child is stronger and general anesthesia can be used safely?

These are all very hard but necessary questions that community members, government authorities and intactivists should be asking Joshua’s medical care providers. The doctors were the ones who were ultimately responsible for Joshua’s wellbeing. What is particularly interesting is the way in which the hospital doctors went about reassuring Jill and Shane “over and over” that the circumcision played no role in Joshua’s death. In yet another blogpost following his death, Jill wrote, “The team of neonatologists and cardiologists made it extremely clear that Joshua's cardiac arrest was NOT in any way related to the circumcision. His heart simply could not work any more. He put up a good fight, but he just simply couldn't do it.”

While it is very appealing and comforting to trust that the hospital is telling the absolute truth to these grieving parents, after examining the blatant negligence, it is highly likely that this hospital is just trying to cover up their own fatal errors to avoid a lawsuit, especially in light of the media attention that yet another circumcision lawsuit would arouse (Baby Mario’s lawsuit). In other words, we don’t buy it! Doctors are scrambling to discredit the complications of Joshua’s circumcision as a possible cause of his heart failure, but the evidence says otherwise. Doctors may see it as a win-win situation. They never have to face the repercussions for their errors and Joshua’s parents never have to go to bed wondering whether the circumcision was what pushed their baby boy’s heart over the edge.

While it might be too late for Joshua, we must think about the next boy who will enter that NICU and about all of the other families with sick newborns who are considering circumcising.

It is a fact that almost all infant deaths from routine infant circumcision are due to cardiac arrest and/or hemorrhage resulting from the circumcision. It is also a fact that only a small fraction of actual deaths resulting from these well-documented circumcision complications are formally linked to the actual act of circumcision within the medical record of each victim. This means that while these boys’ records report “blood loss,” “hemorrhaging,” and/or “cardiac arrest,” there is absolutely no mention of the root cause: circumcision surgery. This is a huge problem that should concern all parents.

Based on sketchy reporting by hospitals in the U.S., researchers acknowledge that the current statistical figures for circumcision death rates and complications is far lower than the actual death rates and complication rates. If parents are making decisions about the fate of their son’s life, it only makes sense that they should also have access to accurate statistical information prior to opting for this potentially life-threatening genital reduction surgery. At present, the majority of parents do not have a clear understanding of the true risks of circumcision because the medical community has not been able to provide reliable statistics concerning death and complication rates. Essentially, this means that no parents are able to give true informed consent when they sign off on genital reduction surgery for their son. This is yet another reason we need to ask some hard questions when these tragic situations arise.

Intactivists are working against more than a century’s worth of misconceptions and tradition in North America. If we are ever to free our society from the hold of genital mutilation, or at the very least expose the truth regarding the dangers of circumcision, we must ask the tough questions and challenge a medical community that continues to partake in cosmetic surgery on non-consenting minors.

While educating parents is an important step to progress, the single most effective way to end unnecessary circumcision is to remove this non-therapeutic operation from the hospital menu. We can only do this by holding the medical community accountable for their actions. Gone are the days where people sit back and accept the proclamations of doctors as the gospel truth. Doctors are not gods and they are not perfect. Like anyone else, they have their own agenda and they have their own livelihood to protect. At this point, every medical association in the world agrees that circumcision is non-therapeutic in nature, and that there is not sufficient evidence to support routine infant circumcision. So why, then, are doctors still doing this to healthy babies and, more importantly, why are they doing it to extremely ill babies? I challenge readers to seek the answer.

On the Backlash.

It is evident that an entire community of professional intactivists (who work tirelessly to accomplish the items listed at the beginning of this article) are being blamed for the voices and actions of a handful of people who happen to be against circumcision or possibly even a few trolls (circumcision fetishists in disguise posing as intactivists to cause trouble). There is little doubt that several attacking, mean statements were made to Joshua’s mother; however, readers should be reminded that the internet is a rather a big space, with contributors from all walks of life. When something is posted on the internet there should always be healthy skepticism of the the origin and validity of the statement. Blog comments and tweets are two particularly anonymous means of communication in which it is very difficult to assess the true intentions and origins of what is written. Let it be it known that our community does have a few well-documented enemies who troll around and impersonate intactivists for the sole purpose of making us unpopular, unliked, and creating distrust in our organizations and message. In particular, there is a user by the name of "CircInfo" on Twitter who has created additional fake accounts in order to cause exactly this type of uproar. Sadly, there are individuals, such as this user and others, who use their blog, their Facebook pages, and their Twitter accounts in their obsession to ensure that pro-cutting propaganda is perpetuated, and/or that well informed intactivists are routinely and constantly bashed and made to look like "terrorists."

While I believe it is quite easy to understand why a particular interest group, such as ours, would be in support of protecting children’s bodies, it is beyond rational understanding as to why any person would spend their time and energy striving to ensure that doctors cut as many children as possible by way of spreading myths and out-dated information on the internet, and blocking/banning/deleting the response comments made by intactivists. The intentions of these particular people are sick and can usually be linked back to circumcision fetishist sites and organizations, such as Circlist.

Finally, as mentioned previously, simply stating one is "against circumcision" does not make a person an intactivist. People who are simply against circumcision but do not aspire to the goals listed at the beginning of this article often share their opinions in a haphazard manner and create a lot of confusion as to what really constitutes someone as an intactivist. These pseudo-intactivists simply do not have the expertise or experience with the subject matter to make well-rounded, articulate discourse. Any person who made nasty remarks or attacks against Joshua’s mother is not - I repeat - NOT, a member of the intactivist community. The intactivist community has absolutely zero interest in attacking, threatening and/or making cruel statements, especially towards parents who have lost children because of circumcision. Such behaviors are not only fruitless to our goals, but they are simply not becoming to a group of people who ultimately wish to promote peace and humanity for all.

Among my intactivist colleagues, which are innumerable, I have not encountered a single person who is without deepest sympathy for the this family’s loss. Let it be known that intactivist community has absolutely no interest in blaming Joshua’s death on his parents or in attacking a grieving family. Placing the blame or attacking these loving parents does virtually nothing to further any of the goals or interests of intactivism. I’ll take a moment to speak for my community... If Joshua’s parents are reading this now, I would like to extend our sincerest condolence for your loss. No parent should ever be faced with the agony of burying a child, our hearts go out to you and your entire family.


Information on newborn circumcision-related death in the United States:

Bollinger, Dan. Lost Boys: An Estimate of U.S. Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths. Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies. 2010;4(1):78-90.

Baker RL. Newborn male circumcision: needless and dangerous. Sexual Medicine Today. 1979;3(11):35-36.

Death From Circumcision

Circumcision Information Resource Pages - Death

Doctors Opposing Circumcision - Statement

Circumstitions - Complications

NOHARMM - Complicaitons Incidence

National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers 2010 newsletter

Partial list of those who've died during/post-circumcision

Doctors Re-examine Circumcision

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision

Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma

Chidren's Genitals Under the Knife

Circumcision: The Rest of the Story

Several texts examine past research on this subject here

Today more baby boys die from circumcision surgery each year in the United States than from choking, from auto accidents, from suffocation, from SIDS, from (recalled) sleep positioners and from (the newly banned) drop-side cribs.

Additional Articles by Jennifer Coias:

The Phony Phimosis Diagnosis

Circumcision: Already Illegal?

The Nuts & Bolts of HIV in the USA and why Circumcision Won't Protect Men

Basic Care of an Intact Child

Painful Urination During Prepuce Separation

Turn Your Crib into a Co-Sleeper


Baby Dies after Circumcision Surgery Blood Loss and Heart Failure

I am utterly broken to learn that we have lost yet another baby, Joshua, after the perils of circumcision surgery. There is so much I'd like to say at this moment, and yet my grieving heart needs time to be still, my head time to refocus. I've cried often for Joshua during his struggle. He was born with a severe congenital heart defect and I cannot imagine the pain he endured in his last day of life on earth as his fragile heart worked so very hard to try and keep up through circumcision surgery and seven hours of post-op hemorrhage. It truly is more than any seven week old baby deserves.

I am devastated that somehow, someone could not have reached Joshua's parents a mere 24 hours ago with accurate and complete information about the risks of putting a baby through circumcision surgery when he is not otherwise in perfectly healthy and stable condition. Physicians should have been the ones to follow the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) protocol which clearly states there is no medical indication for circumcision surgery, and that it is never to be performed upon a baby who is not in the utmost healthy and stable condition.

I am, in fact, appalled that any physician with letters behind his/her name would needlessly slice into the body of an already struggling baby - knowing the risk of cardiac arrest skyrockets during the horrors of genital cutting even for healthy babies (cortisol and other stress hormones spike to incredibly high levels which is very trying on the human heart). Knowing also, of the real risk of hemorrhage, even for healthy babies. Losing just 1 ounce of blood results in hemorrhage, and a loss of merely 2.3 ounces is enough to put a heart-healthy baby into cardiac arrest from blood loss. Knowing, very well, that no medical or health organization in the world recommends circumcision. Again, knowing the AAP has declared since 1999 that there are no medically justified reasons for infant circumcision, and that if the prepuce is amputated for cosmetic reasons, it should never be upon a baby who is not otherwise healthy and strong enough to endure the surgical procedure (one which is commonly done without anesthesia). How did a physician manage to ignore all these things, not give full detailed information to Joshua's parents, and needlessly cut anyway on a baby struggling with a congenital heart defect?

Please, I beg you, review the real risks of circumcision surgery, and the real benefits of keeping our children whole and intact as they come into this world - perfect. The prepuce is not a genital defect - it is a natural, normal, vital (dare I say God-given) organ that plays many important rolls in both men and women. Please, become fully informed on the prepuce, intact care, and circumcision surgery. If you've already lost one baby to circumcision, or have made choices at times when you weren't well equipped with information, know that many of the most life-changing mothers and fathers today are those who were once victims of a myth-filled society along with their son.

The reality is that today more baby boys die from circumcision surgery each year in the United States than from choking, from auto accidents, from suffocation, from SIDS, from (recalled) sleep positioners and from (the newly banned) drop-side cribs. Do not allow your child to suffer or be taken from you for senseless cosmetic amputation surgery upon his perfectly formed penis.


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Hospital Information:

St.Vincent Women's Hospital
8111 Township Line Road
Indianapolis, Indiana 46260

(317) 415-8111 Main Line

St. Vincent is a Catholic Hospital


Additional information on newborn circumcision-related death in the United States:

Bollinger, Dan. Lost Boys: An Estimate of U.S. Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths. Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies. 2010;4(1):78-90.

Baker RL. Newborn male circumcision: needless and dangerous. Sexual Medicine Today. 1979;3(11):35-36.

Death From Circumcision

Circumcision Information Resource Pages - Death

Doctors Opposing Circumcision - Statement

Circumstitions - Complications

NOHARMM - Complicaitons Incidence

National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers 2010 newsletter

Partial list of those who've died from circumcision

Doctors Re-examine Circumcision

What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision

Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma

Chidren's Genitals Under the Knife

Circumcision: The Rest of the Story

Several texts examine past research on this subject here

Update: It appears that a few pro-cutting persons posed as 'intactivists' and hurt this family and those trying to help. For a response to this terribly unfortunate situation, see Coias' article here.


Why All the Circumcision Posts?!

By Audrey Bryk © 2010

my perfectly intact son

I bet a few (most?) of my friends on Facebook have had the thought that I am off my rocker for posting about circumcision lately. Honestly, a few years ago I would have thought the same thing. I never, ever, EVER thought that this would be something I would care so deeply about.

Admittedly, I didn’t do enough research before Colin was born in Arizona in 2007. I had read a few mainstream “pro & con” articles, and some of the pediatricians I interviewed touched on it, but like most things (including his name!) we were wishy-washy before we checked into the hospital.

When I met him for the first time – the single most amazing wonderful spectacular mind-blowing event of my life – I was literally IN SHOCK about how perfect he was.

A little bit later, the pediatrician came into the room and said, “First thing's first: Are you going to have him circumcised?”

Really? THAT is the first thing? REALLY? It just seemed so ludicrous to me in the midst of my new-mommy glow. I looked down at him. He was just. so. perfect. “Um…no…we’re not doing that to him.” Not the welcome to the world I envisioned for this perfectly whole wonderful gentle peaceful little being in my arms.

Fast forward to a couple months ago at Reid’s 4 month check up here in Germany, where he was born (my second son). I hadn’t given a single thought to the whole thing until Dr. Schaffer took off his diaper and, with a look of surprise said, “Wow, you’re American and he’s intact. That’s great!”

At that moment it struck me as funny that I literally didn’t give it a thought this time around. It wasn’t offered at the hospital in Germany, and it wasn’t even mentioned by a soul until Reid was 4 months old here, but in the U.S. it is the "first" thing?

That sparked something in me, and I started doing some research that very night. One of the first things I read on an intactivist website was, “Circumcision: the more you learn about it, the more you’re against it.” That has held true for me as I have continued to read and research all these nights since.

The single most striking argument against circumcision, in my mind, is that it is in fact not “just a useless piece of skin” as we have been taught to believe in the U.S.. The five most sensitive areas on the penis - significantly more sensitive than any other - are all in the foreskin.

As many as 70,000 (some experts say upwards of 100,000) highly-sensitive specialized nerves and 50-80% of the penis’ sensation are removed during circumcision, with the variance due to where the cutting attendant decides to make the cut. I simply could not fathom taking this away from my children for any of the supposed “pros” of circumcision. What would I say to them if they asked me later on why I thought it was okay to do that to them? How could anyone justify that?

When we hear that this is done to baby girls in other cultures, we are shocked and horrified. But we don’t recognize the utter hypocrisy in what we are doing to our precious infant boys.

I am so lucky to have had that initial experience with Colin. I have realized that if Reid had been born first, I might have just "gone with it" because "it's what you do" since my birth experience with Reid was traumatic and we did not experience that immediate magical bonding (we have more than made up for it since then ♥). There are many other important functions of the foreskin, but this one to me is the most striking. For more info, see the links at the bottom of this page on 'purposes of the prepuce' or Google 'foreskin function'.

Some will say “it’s cleaner” or “more hygienic" to circumcise infant boys. Interestingly, women get more infections and actually make more “smegma” than men, but we don’t suggest that we clip any extra skin from baby girls. We have these things called “baths.” Besides, I cannot think of many things less clean than a fresh surgical wound that sits in urine and feces ::shudder::

We get bacteria under our fingernails, but we don’t remove them at birth: we wash our hands. We get cavities, but we don’t remove our teeth: we get fillings. We even get athlete's foot and other unsavory things on our feet, but we don't remove our toes. You see where I am going with this.

Some will point to “less cancer” but only 1 in 100,000 men get penile cancer. 1 in 8 women get breast cancer, but we do not routinely perform mastectomies at any point in a girl's life to prevent it. If you think about it, if there is "less" of an organ, you have "less" of a chance of something going wrong with it. Maybe we should give smokers' lungs a lil "snip snip" in the name of preventative medicine!

My favorite myth is UTI prevention. Why the hell would you perform amputation surgery to prevent something that can be easily and quickly treated with ANTIBIOTICS? And is uncommon in boys to boot?

There is a lot in the news about AIDS and circumcision lately, as well. Even if these three trials were done well (which they weren't) or were conclusive (which they are not) or were related to the lifestyle and culture in the U.S. (which they aren't), circumcised or not, you still need to practice safe sex. Would you have unprotected sex with an HIV positive partner if you were circumcised and your risk of contracting HIV might be somewhat lower than an intact man? Of course not. You have to wear a condom anyway, so what’s the point? Additional interesting information on this subject can be found at The Nuts and Bolts of HIV in the USA and why Circumcision Won't Protect Men. See also, Doctors Reject Circumcision as HIV Prevention. There are excellent links and an interview with "America's Doctor," Dr. Dean Edell, on this very topic here.

When it comes to any of the "medical" reasons given for infant circumcision, all you have to do is look at Europe, where the surgery is simply not done. Is there a raging STI/AIDS epidemic in Europe because of all that foreskin running around? No. In fact, HIV rates are much lower than in the U.S., where we should have protection from the disease because of the high rate of circumcision, right? Are there legions of adult men lining up for the procedure because of all the problems their pathological foreskin has caused them? No. Many problems "caused by" the prepuce in the U.S. are, unfortunately, actually caused by American medical professionals not knowing the correct way to care for a natural penis. (The foreskin should never be retracted for any reason by anyone other than the person to whom it belongs.)

You will also hear people say they want their baby's penis to look like their dad's penis. I personally do not recall comparing my genitals to my mother’s, but maybe we were weird. I still don’t see what would be so awful about having an honest conversation about the fact that some parents have circumcised in the past, and some don’t. “My parents decided to do this to me when I was born, but we thought you were perfect the way you were born and wanted to leave the choice up to you.” Would it be so traumatic to have that conversation? Or the “locker room comparison” reason. Today, according to the CDC, about 68% of boys in the U.S. are left intact. As the tide turns, I would think that the boys who are missing a body part will be the ones to suffer.

Some people think it's less painful for a newborn. Anybody who says this doesn't realize that A) an older person can be safely and adequately anesthetized (unlike a newborn) and can express the need for pain medication afterward and safely receive it, and B) a baby's foreskin is tightly fused to the head of the penis just like your fingernail to your finger -- so it has to be ripped away first. An adult's foreskin has already separated naturally, so this excruciatingly painful part of the procedure is unnecessary. Furthermore, there is some guesswork on a baby's penis -- it hasn't grown at all and is still very tiny. Remove too little and the procedure may have to be repeated, too much and he will suffer from painful erections for a lifetime. Again, because the adult's prepuce will have already separated, and his penis is already full-grown, this is a non-issue. Not to mention the fact that at this point, the owner of the penis will have a say in the decision.

The bottom line is: if somebody strapped you down and removed part of your genitals without your consent, would you feel like your rights were violated? What if someone did the same to your daughter? I cannot understand how it could be considered different for a little boy. I recently read an online discussion between teenage boys on the subject and one said, "Every time I look at my mutilated dick, I want to punch my mom in the face." It's shocking, but he has every right to feel that way. His basic human rights were violated.

Living in Europe -- where circumcision surgery is simply not done -- has shed light on my own cultural bias. Here, there aren't babies, little boys, or even grown men walking around with any medical issues due to their intact foreskin (as they are cared for properly), or resenting their parents for making the choice to keep them intact. There are no debates, no concerns, over boys feeling different in the locker room, no parents stressing over how to explain why daddy or anybody else looks different. There are no babies welcomed to the world with an act of violence against them, no mothers sobbing in hospital beds filled with grief and regret over letting someone hurt their perfect newborn baby. In short, they are blissfully ignorant of all the strife associated with infant circumcision, and their boys are not suffering because of this. Instead, AIDS rates are lower here. Rumor has it that European men make excellent lovers, which is not surprising as they have all the parts nature intended them to have. And the vast majority feel that what U.S. parents do to their baby boys is barbaric - and they're right! Just step back and think about it for a moment. We are taking knives to babies' genitals! For no reason...

There are so, so, so many more reasons and myths out there, and I could go on, and on and on, but alas I am a busy mom and Reid just woke up and I put him in the neglectasaucer so I could finish this. I really encourage you to evaluate your ideas about this issue, which is such a hidden but significant part of our culture. The rest of the world simply does not circumcise for non-religious reasons. Why did it become custom in the U.S. you might be wondering? To prevent masturbation, which was considered "self abuse" at the time. Yes, I'm serious. And even among the religious, the attitudes are swiftly changing. Some of the most passionate intactivists today are Jewish fathers, mothers and doctors.

I just can’t stop... [Hold on Reid! I’m gonna getcha...] and I haven't even really been able to touch on the things that can and do go wrong with circumcision surgery... A good starting point to continue reading: Are You Fully Informed? It may be a good question to ask.

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Audrey Bryk is a full-time mom currently living in the Taunus hills of Germany. She hopes to return to the states one day to find a generation of American children blissfully ignorant of the practice of genital mutilation.

Read More from Bryk:

Foreskin: It's Not 'Icky'


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