As you watch, note that the doctor states prepuce amputation is done for "cosmetic" reasons - not medical necessity. Yet he continues on to say that this surgery has been conducted in the same manner for 3,000 years. This is not true. [For more information see: Biblical Circumcision and related information on genital cutting pre-1900s North America.]
As Ben's mother is told that there are risks to circumcision, she covers her ears. The amputating physician tells her that complications from the operation are "very rare" and "knock on wood, we just don't see it." Untrue. A large number of infants who undergo circumcision surgery have post-op complications to one degree or another. And all have had the most sensitive, most erogenous, part of their penis removed forever.
As Ben starts to cry, the physician quickly asks, "Do you have any questions?" "Nope," replies Ben's mother, and the tape is stopped while Ben is strapped to the circumstraint board. When the tape begins again, the physician is satisfied that Ben's arms and legs are tied down tightly and explains that you must make sure a baby is "well restrained." Even a newborn will kick and roll and claw in a desperate attempt to avert an knife attack on his body.
The penis is rubbed with alcohol which serves two purposes - it kills bacteria immediately available on the surface of the penis pre-op, and it causes an erection in an infant which makes it easier for the physician to tear and cut the prepuce (foreskin) from the glans (penis head) as the two organs are otherwise tightly fused together (like your fingernail is to your finger). Anesthesia is injected into the penis (which does nothing to numb the dorsal nerve at the base of the penis). As he begins, the physician says, "Sorry, Buddy. This is the part that everyone hates..." and continues on.
Ben's cries may haunt you. They are the desperate, urgent, pleas to be rescued from the most horrific pain imaginable - the cutting off of one's genitals. They are not typical cries of a baby in need. Parents who have viewed their son's circumcision surgery will tell you that they've never heard a cry just like this.
If you have previously witnessed circumcision surgery, this may not be for you to watch. However, if you are considering circumcision for your baby (which, in the United States is the complete amputation of the prepuce organ and frequently the frenulum) please do watch. To make a research-based decision, parents must be fully informed about what circumcision surgery entails, including all aspects of the operation, the many important functions the foreskin serves in infancy and adulthood, and intact care as well.
There are many locations to go for learning more about circumcision. Available books and websites are included on this page, or to view additional surgeries (if one is not enough) search "circumcision" on YouTube. Although the majority of parents today keep their sons intact, we still find a percentage of those choosing circumcision without being well informed. In 2011, no parent should be birthing a child without being well versed in the subject ahead of time.
Ben, before and after his prepuce is amputated:
Note (above) that it is readily obvious Ben has been subjected to forced retraction already at this point in life. As a neonate, his prepuce should be tightly fused to the end of his penis, and there should be no gaping, red area. The physician also tells Ben's mother that they have "already checked" further up on Ben's shaft (commonly, as far as he was able to retract the prepuce) to check for hypospadias. Absolutely no one should be retracting your baby, for any reason. But there is an epidemic of forced retraction in the United States that parents need to be aware of.
(Above) The physician has stimulated Ben, forcing an erection. This allows the prepuce to be torn easier, for the clamp or bell to be placed tightly, and for cutting to take place with a slightly reduced chance of accidental glans (head) amputation. Others have noted that this is truly the first time in a baby's life that sex (manual stimulation of the penis to cause an erection) and violence (the non-consential, painful cutting up of the penis) mix. The Gomco clamp is used on Ben. It is one of the two most commonly used circumcision clamps in the United States, the second being the Plastibell. There are some parents who are told that the Plastibell does not involve cutting. This is not true. The prepuce is still torn apart from the glans, the bell is placed on the raw glans, the prepuce is pulled up over the glans, a string (instead of metal clamp) is tied around the prepuce, and everything above the string is cut off. There is no such thing as a "blood free" or "knife free" circumcision surgery. To view a Plastibell circumcision and learn more see this page.
Ben may now face many weeks or months of "colic" (higher in babies who have endured severe pain in their post-partum days). He may show signs of infant PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) via increased episodes of fright, crying, terror, lapsing in and out of a semi-comatose state (increased drowsiness, sleep), decreased interest in eating, nursing complications, thrusting instead of suckling at his mother's breast, reflux, belly aches, and neurological changes. He is now at a heightened risk for failure to thrive and faces several weeks of post-op healing. He is more likely to face infection, meatal ulcers, post-op phimosis, fibrosis, and potential need for repeat surgery. Until his penis scars and calluses over, he faces the risk of hemorrhage, which, if it occurs, will hopefully be stopped via clamps, or heart failure and death can result. He may move his body differently than his intact peers as he grows, and will respond to vaccinations and other painful episodes with higher cortisol (stress hormone) spikes and a lower threshold for pain, even into adulthood. The odds are, unfortunately, not in his favor to walk away without any post-op complications.
The CDC reports that 68% of baby boys born in the United States in 2009 remained intact. Their parents said "no" to circumcision.
No national or international medical organization in the world recommends infant circumcision.
Additional Gomco Style Circumcision:
Update: Since 2008 when this article was first made, Mogen has lost multiple lawsuits for glans' amputation and has been deemed "unsafe" for use by clinicians performing infant circumcision. Today the most common forms of genital cutting are by Gomco and Plastibell.
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