Sunday, September 26, 2010

Knowing Better

By Megan Robinson © 2010
Read more from Robinson at Meg-isms

photo of my oldest son and I by Sandi Heinrich Photography


I have something to say, and it's that I am 100%, gut-wrenchingly, without a doubt, against genital mutilation - otherwise known as circumcision.

This wasn't always the case.

My husband is circumcised, and I never really gave it any thought until my second son was born in late 2008. Our first son was a victim of our ignorance. Sadly and regretfully, he is circumcised. We didn't know any better at the time. We thought it was what we were supposed to do. So that he could "look like his daddy," because it was supposedly cleaner and easier to care for, because if you didn't you were weird, or as one person told me, "It's gross if you don't."

When my first son was born in 2004 we didn't have great internet access to do research. I was also only 25 and none of my friends had kids at the time. I didn't have anyone to teach me or to guide me.

So, if you are wondering why I care so much, and why I am writing about issues like this - it's because I wish I had had someone in my life 6 years ago who would have told me what a mistake I was about to make. Someone to tell me that all of my beliefs and feelings about circumcision were false. Someone to lead me to studies and to the knowledge I would need to make a different choice.

My husband and I made a mistake and we are regretful, but with all of our pain we want to make a difference for other parents and baby boys.

Here are some facts about circumcision that we find worth noting:

1) No health organization in the WORLD recommends the procedure.

2) It is the amputation of a completely normal body part, much like the amputation of a toe or the outer ear.

3) There are many myths surrounding circumcision - examples being that it somehow helps to prevent some diseases and cancers, or that it makes the penis more hygienic.

4) Circumcision is a huge money maker for the medical industry. Money that is hard to give up even though the AAP and WHO have made statements saying that there is no reason to do the procedure.

5) This procedure is highly painful for infants. Babies feel pain at a much greater level than adults. Even though anesthesia is sometimes used, it is never substantial enough to keep the infant from feeling the excruciating pain. Many medical workers or parents will claim that their baby boy slept through the procedure or was calm. This is because they enter a semi-comatose state in order to survive the excessive pain (similar to how you or I might lapse into a coma if someone started cutting our genitals apart). After the procedure baby boys are withdrawn and unsettled. This often interferes with sleep, breastfeeding and bonding. Circumcised baby boys often won't look in their mothers eyes after the procedure. There are studies showing that this kind of trauma in an infant can have LIFE LONG implications!

6) The foreskin has a purpose! It protects the glans (head) from abrasion (which if it is exposed causes a decrease in sensation over the years because of the formation of a callus). It also excretes essential fluids as it is a mucous membrane. It protects the urinary tract from infection and guards against sexually transmitted diseases.

7) The foreskin plays a role in an adult males partner's life too. Many defensive men (and women) will say they are just fine without their foreskin. But one can also be just fine without a finger, arm, toe, etc.

8) There are many risks that go along with the procedure such as hemorrhage, infection, damage to the glans, tightness of the skin on the shaft (painful erection), scarring, and death. Circumcision has a complication rate of 1 in 500 and a death rate of 1 in 500,000. I believe the numbers are along the lines of 200-300 baby boys dying per year from the procedure. These numbers are higher in Africa.

9) Circumcision is a violation of human rights. Thus why it is called genital mutilation. It is the amputation of a human being's body part without their consent.

10) Just because daddy is circumcised doesn't mean baby needs to be too. One of my dear friends was counseling a couple who were expecting their first baby boy any day. The couple didn't really want to cut their son but were distressed that baby should look like his daddy. My friend brought up a good point. She said, "So, dad, if you were missing an arm, would you cut off baby's arm so he would look like you?" This was the ultimate deciding factor for this couple. Of course they wouldn't do this! Every child is unique and needs to be treated as such. If daddy really wishes to 'match' his son, he can consider restoration.

11) "The US has the highest rate of medically unnecessary, non-therapeutic infant circumcision in the world - and yet the HIV infection rate in North America is twice the rate in Europe, where circumcision rates are low." (The Truth about Circumcision and HIV by Gussie Fauntleroy; Doctors Reject Circumcision as HIV Prevention). The only way to protect oneself against as HIV is abstinence, monogamy, barriers, no IV drug/shared needle use and sterile surgical instruments.

I also should say that I understand that there are religious belief issues surrounding circumcision and it is never my intention to insult anyone's religion. I am touching on two religions, Judaism, because I was attacked by someone whose partner is Jewish and they were offended by our stance on the procedure, and the LDS church, because my husband was raised Mormon.

Many Jewish families are choosing not to do the procedure to their baby boys. Dr. Mark Reiss, a retired Jewish physician states, "Growing numbers of American Jews are now leaving their sons intact as they view circumcision as a part of Jewish law that they can no longer accept." There are many Jewish couples that are very active in their religions that now speak out against the procedure and refuse to let it happen to their children. Instead, some are choosing to do a "Brit Shalom" ceremony which translates as "Covenant of Peace" instead of a "Brit Milah" which translates as "Covenant of Blood."

The LDS church has asked that circumcision be done away with. I take this excerpt from "The Book of Mormon on Circumcision" and I encourage you to read the full article.
In Moroni 8:8 of The Book of Mormon, Christ, following his death and resurrection, speaks to the people of the western hemisphere, the Nephites and Lamanites. He says, "Listen to the words of Christ, your Redeemer, your Lord and your God, I came into the world not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance; the whole need no physician, but they that are sick; wherefore, little children are whole, for they are not capable of committing sin; wherefore the curse of Adam is taken from them in me, that it hath no power over them, and the law of circumcision is done away in me.
To quote my husband, "In the Mormon faith, it is taught that the body is a temple and is not to be marked, so much so that many women in the faith refuse to pierce their ears. Why, then, would it be okay to permanently alter the body of an infant male, who was created in God's own image? Especially when there is scripture that states clearly that it is no longer a ritual of significance?"

Someday we will apologize to our first born son and explain to him what was done to him and why. My deepest hope is that he forgives us for making a decision about his body that was not ours to make.

I will not stop fighting for the end of circumcision. I cannot stand by and let other misguided or misinformed parents make the same mistake we made. The pain I feel is tremendous and I am going to need therapy (yes, seriously) to overcome my feelings of remorse. If I can prevent this from happening to other sweet mamas and baby boys, I will. This is not an attack on those that have chosen to do the procedure; after all, I fall into this category. All one needs to do is to watch a circumcision being done, read what it really is, and how it's done, and what it does to a baby's brain. Once one does this, I highly doubt they would let it be done to their sweet child.

I am happy and proud to say that our second son is intact. When he was born we still didn't know exactly what circumcision was, but we knew it didn't feel right. I am so glad we made the decision not to cut him by following our primal instincts. And now that we know the truth about circumcision, we are even more thankful that we left his body whole.

If you would like a circumcision information pack sent to you, I will gladly pay to have one sent. It contains tons of great information to read and also comes with videos to watch. All you have to do is send me a message (InHonorofGavin@gmail.com) and I will take care of it.

I mentioned being informed earlier in this post. I encourage you to visit this page as there are many excellent articles on circumcision, among other peaceful parenting ideas.

And finally, I must thank those of you who are making a difference and standing up against this horrid procedure. I wish I could do more, I wish I could reach farther. I am honored to know that so many of you feel the same and are making a difference for our baby boys, their parents and their future partners.

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better."
~ Maya Angelou


~~~~

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Wrongful Circumcision of Baby Mario: Court Documents

Vera Delgado with son, Mario, speaks to Univision at the Genital Integrity Demonstration for Baby Mario on Friday, September 17 outside South Miami Hospital. Thank you to As Nature Intended for this photo.


The following is the court document filed on Monday, September 13 by Spencer Aronfeld, Esq., on behalf of Vera Delgado. Delgado's son, Mario Viera, was taken from the NICU and circumcised against his will and without the consent of his mother at South Miami Hospital on August 2nd, 2010. For information on Baby Mario's case and how to protect your son, see more of the story and interviews here.

COMPLAINT

Plaintiff, VERA DELGADO, as parent and natural guardian of MARIO VIERA, a minor,
by and through undersigned counsel, sue the Defendants, MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D. and SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, and would allege as follows:

1. This is an action for personal injury damages, with damages in excess of the minimum jurisdictional limits of this Honorable Court, to-wit: Fifteen Thousand and no/IOO ($15,000.00) Dollars, exclusive of costs and interest.

2. At all times material to hereto, the Plaintiff, VERA DELGADO, was and is a resident of Miami-Dade County, Florida, and is the parent and natural guardian of Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, a minor, is otherwise sui juris.

3. Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, is the minor child of Plaintiff, VERA DELGADO, and is a resident of Miami-Dade County, Florida.

4. At all times material hereto, Defendant, MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D., individually and/or as an agent, apparent agent or employee of herself, was and is a licensed medical doctor under the laws of the State of Florida, authorized to provide health care services to individuals such as the Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, a minor, in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

5. At all time material hereto, Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, Inc., was and is a licensed hospital under the laws of the State of Florida, authorized to provide health caie services to individuals such as Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, a minor, in Miami-Dade County, Florida

FACTS

6. At all times material to this Complaint, the Defendants had the responsibility to provide
medical care and treatment of the Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, a minor.

7. On or about July 24, 2010 Plaintiff, VERA DELGADO, gave birth to MARIO VIERA, a minor, at SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC. and admitted into its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit due to birth related complications.

8. Plaintiff, VERA DELGADO, as parent and natural guardian of MARIO VIERA, a minor, repeatedly informed Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., its staff and agents that she did not want or authorize the Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, a minor, to be circumcised.

9. On or about August 2, 2010, while Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, a minor, was still under the care of Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC.'S, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Defendants, MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D., nurses and agents of Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., and without consent performed an unauthorized amputation of the foreskin of his penis.

COUNT I - ASSAULT AND BATTERY BY MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D.

Plaintiff adopts and realleges the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 9 as though fully
set forth herein.

10. On or about August 2, 2010, at the hospital operated by Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., the Defendant, MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D., with force and against the consent of Plaintiff, VERA DELGADO, as parent and natural guardian of MARIO VIERA, a minor, performed an unauthorized amputation of the foreskin of his penis.

11. The unauthorized amputation of the foreskin of his penis was committed by the Defendant, MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D., while she performed the medical procedure on the Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, A MINOR, in furtherance of her duties as an employee, servant, staff member and/or agent of the Defendant soum MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC.

12. As a result of these wrongful and malicious acts of Defendant, MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D., Plaintiff, VERA DELGADO, as parent and natural guardian of MARIO VIERA, a minor, has suffered greatly in mind and body and will continue to suffer damages.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, VERA DELGADO, as parent and natural guardian of MARIO VIERA, a minor, demands judgment for damages against the Defendant, MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D., and such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

COUNT II - PREMISES LIABILITY AGAINST SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC.

Plaintiff adopts and realleges the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 12 as though fully set forth herein.

13. On or about August 2, 2010, the Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC.,
operated a hospital providing Neonatal care in Miami-Dade County, Florida.

14. On that date, Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, A MINOR, was a patient at the hospital and therefore on the premises lawfully.

15. At all times relevant the Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., owed a duty to protect the Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, A MINOR, and is responsible for any and all injuries sustained on its premises to patients in its care.

16. At all times material hereto, the Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., breached its duty by failing to warn Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, A MINOR, or by allowing a dangerous condition on the premises, to-wit, their employee and/or agent Defendant, MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D., to perform an unauthorized surgical procedure without consent on Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, A MINOR.

17. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC.'S, negligence, Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, A MINOR, suffered bodily injury that is permanent within a reasonable degree of medical probability and resulting pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment. The losses are either permanent or continuing and Plaintiff will suffer the losses in the future.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, VERA DELGADO, as parent and natural guardian of MARIO
VIERA, a minor, demands judgment for damages against the Defendants SOUTH MIAMI
HOSPITAL, INC., and for such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

COUNT III - NEGLIGENT HIRING, TRAINING, RETENTION AND SUPERVISION AGAINST DEFENDANT SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC.

Plaintiff adopts and realleges the allegations contained in paragraphs 1 through 17 as though fully set forth herein.

18. At all times relevant hereto the Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., did employ agents, employees, officers, staff, administrators, representatives, servants and maintenance personnel, and said Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., exercised jurisdiction and control over the procedures which said agents, employees, officers, staff administrators, representatives, servants and maintenance personal had the privilege to perform. Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., determined the qualifications and lack of qualifications of said personnel relating to those duties which were devised by said Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., for the agents, employees, officers, staff, administrators, representatives, servants and maintenance personnel.

19. At all times relevant, the Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., negligently
hired, trained, supervised and/or retained its employee, servant, staff member or agent, who at the time of the incident herein were on staff to provide medical care and assistance to Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, a MINOR.

20. That the Defendant, MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D, with the assistance of employees and agents of Defendant South MH performed an unauthorized surgical procedure on Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, A MINOR, to wit: the amputation of the foreskin of his penis.

21. As a direct and proximate result of Defendant, SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC.'S,
negligence, Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, A MINOR, suffered bodily injury that is permanent within a reasonable degree of medical probability and resulting pain and suffering, disability, disfigurement, mental anguish, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, expense of hospitalization, medical and nursing care and treatment. The losses are either permanent or continuing and Plaintiff will suffer the losses in the future.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff, MARIO VIERA, A MINOR, demands judgment for damages against the Defendant SOUTH MIAMI HOSPITAL, INC., and for such other and further relief as this court deems just and proper.

DATED: this 13th day of September 2010.

ARONFELD TRIAL LAWYERS
Attorneys for Plaintiff
3132 Ponce de Leon Boulevard
Coral Gables, Florida 33134
Telephone: (305) 441-0440
Facsimile: (305) 441-0198

Spencer Marc Aronfeld, Esq.
Fla. Bar No.: 0905161

MARY JEAN PAZOS, M.D


newborn onesies available here
to help protect boys born in U.S. hospitals
(various colors available)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"I Survived the Bris" Onesie & Maternity Shirt

I am not sure which is worse - the smiley happy face baby on a newborn onesie that says "i survived the bris" (complete with two pairs of scissors on either side) for your freshly cut son to sport, or the description offered by Lil' Squirt Tees on CafePress:

Very funny kid's t-shirt! This I Survived The Bris t-shirt is adorable and funny and perfect for any little Jewish boy! Let the world know what a man you are and that you survived the bris!

There is nothing funny about this shirt. Nor is there anything 'adorable' about amputating healthy organs from a non-consenting minor. The babies who are subjected to these horrors are certainly not smiling. And boys born to Jewish parents have the same basic human rights to genital integrity that all other boys, born to parents of varying faiths, have as well. There are numerous Jewish men and women, strong in their faith, electing today to keep their sons intact. In fact, Dr. Ronald Goldman, Dr. Paul Fleiss, Miriam Pollack, and Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon are just a handful of the well known and influential Jewish parents who have pointed out that circumcision is not mandatory for a man to be a Jew. Many more are opting to have a Brit Shalom (a non-cutting ceremony) for their son.

Of course this all gets into a subject that reaches far deeper than the maker of this onesie likely ever meant to dig. Though, maybe it would do him/her some good to check out any number of the resources on Judaism and circumcision.

The last description line is especially sad. "Let the world know what a man you are..." This is a newborn baby we are talking about. He is not a man. Nor do we wish him to be at this point in his dependent, infant development. There is absolutely nothing "manly" about being held down against your will, only to have the most sacred of your body organs painfully sliced away - removing an important part of your penis you can never again get back. And there is certainly nothing "manly" about the adult who is subjecting a helpless baby to such trauma. A real man strives to protect his children against all undue harm.

I'd go one step further to suggest there is also nothing "manly" (or respectful) about designing or selling or describing such a onesie in this fashion. How terribly inconsiderate of the 100-300 who die each year in the U.S. alone as a result of circumcision surgery - those babies who didn't survive this unnecessary amputation. And so many more are left with negative consequences.

Yet, lest we forget this newborn baby, with his penis being cut apart, is just days old, having recently exited from the warm safety and security of his mother's womb, a maternity shirt is offered with the same design. It is strategically placed over the location where this tiny being is rapidly growing and preparing to enter his mother's loving arms - those same arms he will depend on to keep him safe once he has made his way there.

But, hey, why not announce to the world ahead of time "what a man" your newborn baby will be if he faces the blade and the blood... right?


Contact Lil' Squirt Tees at:
info@lilsquirttees.com
or by filling out this form

Saturday, September 11, 2010

NPR Admits Circumcision Interview Not Balanced

Your voices are being heard.

After receiving hundreds of complaints via email, letter, and phone call, NPR responds to the critique of their 4 minute circumcision bit on Weekend All Things Considered, during which a very pro-cutting, Diekema, was interviewed and filled NPR airwaves with a regurgitation of myths and misconception surrounding infant circumcision. True, NPR admits - it was not a "balanced" report. And this admittance is coming after your letters, comments, calls.

Every action you take - even sending one email today, or making one article comment tomorrow - can and does make a difference. Not only for the next parent who comes along seeking additional information, who reads your words and clicks your links - but also for the public voice speaking up on behalf of the basic human right to genital integrity for all human beings, male and female, of any age.

It takes a collective effort to bring about social change, and few things are more deserving of our attention right now, at this moment in U.S. history, than the non-medical cutting up of our newborn babies' penises. Thankfully, this number has decreased to less than 1/3 of all boys born on U.S. soil, and continues to fall as parents become fully informed before their baby's birth - but we cannot risk remaining silent until this rate touches down at zero.


"All truth goes through three steps:
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Finally, it is accepted as self-evident."

~Arthur Schopenhauer
(German philosopher, 1788-1860)




Interview about Circumcision: Not the Whole Story
NPR Ombudsman with Alicia Shepard

Less than two months ago, Ronald Goldman called to complain that NPR "always" adopts a pro-male circumcision stance in its coverage.

The words "NPR always" or "NPR never" always give me pause. It's far more helpful and credible to provide specific examples, rather than offering vague impressions, particularly concerning a subject one feels strongly about.

I thanked Goldman and suggested he contact me again when he found a case in point.

It didn’t take long.

Goldman is director of the Boston Circumcision Resource Center, which advocates against circumcising males, arguing there are no health benefits, it's painful, and it causes medical and psychological harm.

On Aug. 22, NPR’s Weekend All Things Considered ran a story showing circumcision rates are falling fast in the United States. It was based on an Aug. 5, federal research report that hospital circumcision rates had dropped from 56 percent in 2006 to less than 33 percent in 2009.

To cover the story, Weekend All Things Considered decided to have substitute host Audie Cornish interview Dr. Douglas Diekema, a pediatrics bioethicist at the University of Washington.

“When the news came out about this startling drop in circumcisions, our intention was to find someone who wasn’t a partisan—someone who could present both sides,” said Rick Holter,” the top editor on the weekend show. “So we decided to go with a bioethicist. And that’s how we settled on Dr. Diekema.”

Diekema, however, on air did not turn out to be the non-partisan they intended.

When Cornish asked him why people opposed circumcision, Diekema replied:

"Their arguments are largely emotional. I mean, just the fact that they insist on referring to this as genital mutilation tells you that they’re refusing to recognize whether there may be any medical benefit to the procedure. Their use of that term is intentional. I think they’re trying to make a point that if it's wrong on girls, it’s wrong on boys. But there are some significant differences with boys - the most important of which is that there are, in fact, some medical benefits to circumcision."

The story prompted phone calls, emails and 253 comments on npr.org.

The debate —and there clearly is one — centers on two strongly differing beliefs about whether circumcision for a baby boy is medically necessary. One side believes that circumcision prevents disease and promotes cleanliness. The other believes that disease prevention is a red herring that is used to perpetuate a social custom and that the lack of circumcision does not lead to disease.

Listeners did not get both sides of the controversy in this NPR interview.

Diekema also incorrectly said that circumcision opponents regularly use the term "genital mutilation" when referring to the practice. Goldman's website lists over a dozen links about circumcision, but not one uses the term "genital mutilation," a term more commonly used for what is done to young girls, particularly in some cultures.

“There’s no balance to this report,” said Goldman. “There are plenty of reputable people who can fill in the blanks which Dr. Diekema continues to ignore. I would hope in future stories, NPR would include a perspective to describe the harm. Europeans think we are crazy [for circumcising babies] and they don’t have any particular health problems [with all their men remaining intact]. The U.S. is the only country in the world that circumcises to the degree that we do for non-religious reasons.”

NPR editor Holter said Cornish spoke with Diekema for 20 minutes, but the final taped interview was pared down for time reasons.

“Diekema actually did an okay job of presenting both sides during the 20 minutes or so Audie talked to him,” said Holter, “but we didn’t cut [edit] it in as balanced a way as we could and should have in the four minutes we had allotted for the story. Also, it became clear that he had a definite opinion and we probably should’ve either cut it differently or sought another voice.”

Either option would have been preferable and provided more balance and context.

There was another problem as well. Circumcision opponents are sometimes referred to as "intactivists." Cornish mentioned this and both she (mostly) and Diekema giggled at the reference, which furthered the perception that NPR may think opposition to this medical procedure is silly.

Male circumcision has always been controversial, and that places an extra burden on NPR to treat the subject fairly and give equal weight to both sides. NPR could remedy what this story failed to do by posting Diekema’s full interview, or letting a circumcision opponent write an essay for the Opinion Page that NPR could link to the original story.

View NPR Ombudsman original here.

Baby Circumcised "By Accident" in Miami Hospital NICU





Delgado holds her 4 week old son as she tells how he was in the hospital's NICU for 10 days and circumcised against her written documentation, on the 8th day.

This is not the first time it has occurred. Or the second - or even the 100th. In fact, it happens more often than we'd like to recognize. Not only are 32% of baby boys born in the U.S. being circumcised against their will, even when birth mothers stand up to pro-cutting hospital routine (that profits $$$ from circumcision surgery), occasionally their babies are circumcised nonetheless. This is a horrific violation of human rights and patient rights.

Despite the hospital brushing off their "unfortunate mistake" by saying that baby Mario is fine and "didn't have any complications" he is forever impaired by the forced removal of his prepuce organ. As one young man recently noted - there are always complications - no circumcision surgery is performed without loss. Hospital staff who "misread" Mario's paperwork have no idea how this will impact Mario's future sexual health, his wellbeing, or that of his partner(s) later in life.

Just last week I was urging parents to keep their babies with them post-birth - keeping watch even if their little one must be in the NICU. As Aronfed (the attorney in this case) notes - hospitals make mistakes - and they make them all the time.

There are many reasons that birth is generally safer at home (for both mothers and babies). That is topic for another post. But if you do elect to birth in a U.S. hospital, make clear and detailed notes that you will *sue* the hospital if they circumcise your baby. Attorneys For the Rights of the Child (ARC) suggest using bold and direct language that cannot be ignored or "misread" - language which clearly states the legal heap of trouble the hospital will be in if your baby is "accidentally" circumcised. Make sure multiple copies are placed in your file and your baby's file. Keep a document by his bed and on your door. Send one to the legal representative for your hospital. Attorneys who are familiar with these accidental circumcision cases state that hospital staff do not always go through patient files, but threaten a lawsuit ahead of time, and the hospital will pay attention. Sarah Arnold Thompson shared this sign (below) that she encourages parents to print and hang next to their baby. You can easily make your own sign as well. CIRP includes this page devoted to helping American parents protect their sons born in U.S. hospitals from unwarranted circumcision surgery.

Whatever you do, keep your baby with you if at all possible, and do what you must to protect him while he is still on hospital grounds. After all, lawsuit or not, no money in the world is going to get back a child's full penis or his wholeness. Mario will never again be intact. And this is more than an "unfortunate mistake."

[Side note: If you are a woman reading this, imagine for a moment that you had your clitoral hood 'accidentally' amputated in the hospital without your permission or knowledge. And without anesthesia. How would it impact your life? How would you feel about this loss? What repercussions should the hospital face? Could it ever be made right by you? Lest we minimize the gravity of Mario's situation, and all other boys who face this same destruction to their body, we should recognize that their genital organs are no less important because they are male and it is culturally accepted by some to do such things to baby boys in North America. The prepuce is an organ that all of us - male and female - are born with. It serves vital functions, and we each have the basic human right to maintain this organ and do with it as we please.]


To contact the hospital where this event took place:

South Miami Hospital
6200 SW 73 Street
South Miami, FL 33143
Phone: (786) 662-4000

The physician who took Mario from the NICU and circumcised him during the 1 hour that his parents left his side is Mary Jean Pazos, M.D. She has practiced for 22 years and attended medical school at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines.

Pazos' Clinic Address:

1150 Campo Sano Ave Suite 400
Miami, FL 33143


Rate the Doctor Pages for Pazos:

Vitals: Where Doctors Are Examined

DrScore

Revolution Health Ratings


CBS News Channel 4 (South Miami)
Reported by Gio Benitez

Mario Viera is just four weeks old. When he was born, his mom says she told doctors at South Miami Hospital several times that she did not want Mario circumcised.

"It's a big hospital," said Vera Delgado, Mario's mother. "It's a good hospital, and I thought he's safe, he's good there."

But eight days after his birth, without his mother even present, doctors performed the circumcision surgery.

"I was crying. I spent that day and the next day crying," Delgado told CBS4's Gio Benitez.

It turns out every man in Mario's family is intact. It's a family tradition.

Delgado knows a lot of people will think, "Oh that's not a big deal. But what would happen if you don't want that for your son, and they do it anyway?"

"This is not malpractice. This is a battery," said Attorney Spencer Aronfeld, who is working the case. [Aronfeld is a personal injury lawyer in Miami.]

On Monday, Aronfeld says he'll file a lawsuit against the doctor and hospital for battery. "They went and they did an unnecessary, unwanted surgical procedure on this child without the parents permission," he said.

The hospital released this statement:

"The baby's circumcision was an unfortunate mistake caused by a misread consent form. As soon as the error was discovered, the doctor and nurses let the family know what had occurred."

"I see hospitals make mistakes all the time. What I don't see is hospitals make mistakes, and admit them," said Aronfeld. But he and Delgado say the hospital has to do more than admit the mistake because Delgado says it is a risk Mario did not need to face.

"And with him being in intensive care, with more reason," she said. Mario was in intensive care for ten days. He was circumcised on the eighth.

Hospital spokespeople say they're sorry.

"I know they apologized and everything, but it's done - the damage is done," said Delgado.

The following is South Miami Hospital's full statement regarding Mario Viera's circumcision:

The baby's circumcision was an unfortunate mistake caused by a misread consent form. As soon as the error was discovered, the doctor and nurses let the family know what had occurred. We also immediately implemented new processes to ensure this mistake will not occur again. The procedure itself was performed following appropriate surgical guidelines and the baby didn't have any complications. Nevertheless, we're all deeply sorry that this happened.

Original CBS News Transcript Here


Statement by Aronfeld Trial Lawyers
Permalink to Statement

Our Florida law firm sues hospitals for mistakes on behalf of injured patients all the time; but the case of Mario Viera who is just four weeks old is very unusual. When he was born, his parents told the doctors at South Miami Hospital several times that they did not want Mario circumcised. Somehow, the doctors claim, they got the consent forms mixed up and took Baby Mario out of the NICU and circumcised him without the parents knowledge or consent violating Florida Medical Consent Statute 766.103.

Some question why this is objectionable. After all many people are circumcised everyday in this country without any objection from the parents. As a Miami medical malpractice lawyer, I disagree and on Monday we will file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the hospital and doctors who performed the irreversible amputation of this helpless baby's functioning tissue. We take the position that the procedure constitutes more than just medical malpractice, it is a battery and a human rights violation with lifelong consequences.

According to a Canadian study: "the risks of circumcision have always exceeded any alleged benefits, a fact that often is not made clear to parents" and some insurance companies no longer provide coverage for routine infant circumcision and there are hospitals that refuse to perform it because there is no medical indication.

Canadian Medical Association Journal, Mar 13, 1996, 154(6), 769-780.

newborn onesies available here to help protect boys born in U.S. hospitals (various colors available)

Protection of Infant Boys from Wrongful Circumcision in American Hospitals







Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mom, Why Was I Circumcised?


Schaap reads the letter his mother wrote to him at 8 months of age, when he was circumcised against his grandfather's strong wishes to keep him intact.

This personal documentary follows Dutch journalist and filmmaker, Michael Schaap, as he interviews his own mother, those who are pro-MGM (circumcisers), politicians, Jewish and Muslim individuals, men who have restored, several physicians, researchers and intactivists, and those who are experts on both FGM (female circumcision) and MGM (male circumcision).

The documentary is 35 minutes in length, and is absolutely worth watching. It is filmed partially in Dutch with English subtitles, and partially in English with Dutch subtitles. Schaap's documentary can also be found here on Google Video.





Wednesday, September 8, 2010

African Healer Sees Higher HIV Rates, Lower Condom Use After Circumcision

African men wait to learn about circumcision

We've heard it stated time and again: the push to circumcise Africa by white, Western profiteers ($$) is going to prove disastrous for the African peoples.

First, the trials ended early due to too many women contracting HIV after their male partners were circumcised (believing it would then prevent HIV transmission, among other STIs).

Then, we watched as numbers of HIV positive men increased in the areas we had conducted the trials - circumcised men were turning up HIV-positive.

Doctors in the know have reinforced common sense - circumcision does not prevent HIV.

Even if the African trials were statistically sound and valid (which they are far from being), they suggest circumcision reduces the risk of contracting HIV - but leaves a 40% failure rate. As intactivist, Joseph Lewis, recently pointed out, if we were to advocate for the use of a condom that had a 40% failure rate, we'd be laughed out of the room. In fact, your chances of contracting HIV in the first place (circumcised or not) are about 1 in 100,000 (or 1 in 1300 if you are having anal sex with another man). (1, 2) Use a condom, and your chances of remaining STI-free are 95% in your favor.

It is terribly unfortunate that not only are African men and women being lied to (male circumcision will *not* improve - but will hamper further - their sex lives, and it will *not* protect them from sexually transmitted infections), they are also the butt of one of the biggest pro-cutting jokes of all time.

This is 2010. We live in the nation that boasts not only the highest rate of sexually active adult men who are circumcised, but also the highest rate of adult HIV of any developed nation. Obviously we aren't doing too well here on the home front. Maybe we shouldn't be suggesting to others that the scalpel is a vaccine for AIDS. Because it isn't.

And now men in Africa are forgoing condom use, and female partners have little say in the matter, because they all believe that circumcision is the "new condom." In the process they are putting themselves, and their partners, in grave danger. More children who cannot be supported are being conceived (again, thanks to lower condom use) and born to parents infected with HIV.

Note that the healer interviewed for today's Times article even has a difficult time standing up to the big dogs in white coats. While he recognizes clearly that (1) circumcision is leading to more STIs in men and (2) they must continue condom use even after circumcision -- he cannot bring himself to say that circumcision is unnecessary and even harmful to these same men he is treating.

Circumcision is failing Africa.

Lewis recently reminded us that when this circumcision hoax is finally over, the legacy left behind by the African pro-cutting likes of UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO, Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, and those who promoted circumcision as HIV prevention policy will have the blood of many on their hands.

Lewis continued, "The absurdity is immediately obvious to me. What precisely are they smoking? Or is the wiping out of African men [and women] their intended purpose?"

Hmmm... brings me back to a question I had a few years ago when this all started. One which looks a whole lot like my ethical concerns of repeating another Tuskegee experiment. Except this time, instead of 399 black men from the poorest counties in Alabama being used as STI guinea pigs, we have several nations worth of individuals in our test tubes. Hopefully we don't spend 40 years on this 'experiment' as well - because we already know the outcome.


Notes:

1) AIDS Infonet Fact Sheet #152 - "How Risky is It?"; 25 Oct 2005.
2) Murphy, D. "Risk reduction strategies for anal sex with casual partners." AFAO/NAPWA Education Discussion Paper. Vol. 2, No. 4, 2000/2001; 1 Jun 2001.

Traditional healer in Malawi - with treatments for sexually transmitted diseases after circumcision.

Inyanga’s warning about circumcision
By Mbongiseni Ndzimandze for the Times of Swaziland

A traditional healer has related how he treats many men who have STIs due to their belief that after circumcision they will not contract HIV.

The healer, who wished to be identified only as Nkambule, said he had been receiving an influx of male clients who wanted to be treated for sexually transmitted infections.

He said when he questioned them on why they do not use condoms, the response was that they were of the view that because they were circumcised, they did not need to use one.

"Most of them then require me to treat them with my traditional medicine," he said.

Nkambule explained that in one instance his client asked him to prepare a concoction that would enhance his manhood, as he would not be required to use a condom since he had undergone circumcision.

"I always advise them to follow the laid-down procedures a person is expected to undergo after circumcision, but most of them insist that they be given traditional medicine. As a traditional healer, I support circumcision, but it is now clear that people have different understandings of it," he said.

Nkambule disclosed that he always advised his clients to test for HIV before opting for traditional treatment.

"After observing the condition of my clients, I always advise them to check their status so that the necessary treatment can be administered," he explained.

He said circumcision was introduced to reduce the chances of people contracting HIV.

He urged government to consider making circumcision compulsory, especially among the youth, but educate them that they still had to use condoms.

He said there was a need for the ministry of Health to educate people about circumcision because it was clear that it has not been well understood, especially in the rural areas.

Nkambule said, judging from the number of people who came to him after circumcision, it was clear that people have this strong belief that circumcision prevented one from getting a sexually transmitted disease.

"I treat people for different ailments, but the number of those who come with problems of sexually related diseases is increasing [as circumcision increases]," he said.

Government, through the prime minister’s office, recently affirmed the nation’s commitment in getting more males circumcised.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sugar Does Not Relieve Newborn Pain


A physician I was interviewing recently informed me that when he performs circumcision surgery upon a newborn baby (96% undergoing prepuce amputation do not receive anesthesia for the procedure in the United States), "I give him a pacifier dipped in a solution of 25% sucrose, which helps to soothe him during surgery." Another OB/GYN who also uses sugar-dipped pacifiers during genital cutting said, "We don't use anesthesia here because that is just more mucking, and babies don't like being mucked with." According to the following news report by the UCL Research Department of Neuroscience, Physiology and Pharmacology (NPP), however, this sugar method of pseudo 'pain relief' is as bogus as we assumed it to be.


In 2001, recommendations were published, that suggested oral sucrose (sugar) be given to newborns to help relieve pain from invasive procedures (including circumcision surgery).

But a new study led by the UCL Research Department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology (NPP) and published today in The Lancet, shows that giving sugar to newborn babies as a form of pain relief does not work.

Instead, sucrose changes the facial expressions of some babies giving the impression that pain is being relieved. The finding could lead to future changes in healthcare policy as oral sucrose is frequently given to relieve procedural pain in newborn babies who must undergo invasive procedures, such as taking blood from a vein or heel lances.

The trial, funded by the Medical Research Council, studied 59 newborn, healthy babies at University College Hospital and found that activity in the pain areas of the brain did not differ regardless of whether they were given sucrose for pain relief. There was little difference between the infants’ leg reflex reactions either, which also indicates discomfort.

Scientists measured pain activity in the brain and spinal cord before and after babies had undergone a routine heel lance – a standard procedure used to collect blood samples from babies. Half the babies were given a sucrose solution prior to the lance, as per the standard procedure, and the remainder were given sterilized water. Brain activity was measured using neonatal electroencephalography (EEG) and spinal cord pain reflex was recorded with electromyography (EMG).

Dr Rebeccah Slater (UCL Research Department of Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology), who led the study, reports, “Our findings indicate that sucrose is not an effective pain relief drug. This is especially important in view of the increasing evidence that pain causes short and long-term adverse effects of infant neurodevelopment. While we remain unsure of the impact pain has, we suggest that it is not used routinely to relieve pain in infants without further investigation.”

Professor Chris Kennard, chair of the MRC’s Neuroscience and Mental Health funding board says, “This trial has significant implications for healthcare policy and is a first class example of where MRC research is helping bring scientific discoveries from laboratory bench to patient bedside more quickly. With uncertainty around the role that pain plays in a baby’s neurodevelopment, this research is a vital tool for informing healthcare decision makers. Scientific advancements like these would not be possible without the support of medical research volunteers, and families and scientists remain indebted to the huge contribution from members of the public.”

The paper, "Oral sucrose as an analgesic drug for procedural pain in newborn infants: a randomised controlled trial" is published in The Lancet today.



Citation:

Slater, Rebeccah, et al. "Oral sucrose as an analgesic drug for procedural pain in newborn infants: a randomised controlled trial." The Lancet, 10.1016/S0140-6736 (10)61303-7.

Background
Many infants admitted to hospital undergo repeated invasive procedures. Oral sucrose is frequently given to relieve procedural pain in neonates on the basis of its effect on behavioural and physiological pain scores. We assessed whether sucrose administration reduces pain-specific brain and spinal cord activity after an acute noxious procedure in newborn infants.

Methods
In this double-blind, randomised controlled trial, 59 newborn infants at University College Hospital (London, UK) were randomly assigned to receive 0·5 mL 24% sucrose solution or 0·5 mL sterile water 2 min before undergoing a clinically required heel lance. Randomisation was by a computer-generated randomisation code, and researchers, clinicians, participants, and parents were masked to the identity of the solutions. The primary outcome was pain-specific brain activity evoked by one time-locked heel lance, recorded with electroencephalography and identified by principal component analysis. Secondary measures were baseline behavioural and physiological measures, observational pain scores (PIPP), and spinal nociceptive reflex withdrawal activity. Data were analysed per protocol. This study is registered, number ISRCTN78390996.

Findings
29 infants were assigned to receive sucrose and 30 to sterilised water; 20 and 24 infants, respectively, were included in the analysis of the primary outcome measure. Nociceptive brain activity after the noxious heel lance did not differ significantly between infants who received sucrose and those who received sterile water (sucrose: mean 0·10, 95% CI 0·04—0·16; sterile water: mean 0·08, 0·04—0·12; p=0·46). No significant difference was recorded between the sucrose and sterile water groups in the magnitude or latency of the spinal nociceptive reflex withdrawal recorded from the biceps femoris of the stimulated leg. The PIPP score was significantly lower in infants given sucrose than in those given sterile water (mean 5·8, 95% CI 3·7—7·8 vs 8·5, 7·3—9·8; p=0·02) and significantly more infants had no change in facial expression after sucrose administration (seven of 20 [35%] vs none of 24; p<0·0001).>

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...