Void of Empathy: Medical Professionals Joke About Circumcision

By Jeff Graw, Intact Colorado

This is in response to the Facebook discussion that took place publicly last week on Dr. Amy Dunbar's page. What follows is a conversation that needs to happen across America because it concerns us all. Please take the time to read and share this widely. Let's get people talking.

Child pornography is illegal; harming a child, especially sexually harming a child, is also illegal. But fetishists have found a legal-loophole in viewing sexually-explicit material of babies being caused extreme pain; it’s called circum-fetish and it is legal. Sources of circum-fetish material include circumcision-humor web sites [1], circum-erotic stories [2], and medically-produced circumcision videos [3]. Considering that doctors are the source of the video material, it is concerning when we read that many doctors use no pain medication at all in this procedure [4], that some doctors and many medical researchers promoting circumcisions belong to circum-fetish groups [5], and that medical professionals in the U.S. are making comments like: "If you get a chance to see a circumcision, it's cool to watch.” [6], and “Circs are at any time always so exciting.” [7]

Canadian researchers concluded this about medical circumcisions: “All of the subjects suffered pain; some were traumatized to the point of danger. The study was halted prematurely after one of the subjects vomited, went into shock and stopped breathing for more than 25 seconds.” [8] Claims that anesthesia reduce the pain do not hold up against observation as can be seen with the circumcision of Benjamin [video below]. Despite two dorsal-block injections that balloon his penis to twice its normal size, it is obvious he is still in an extreme amount of pain, and the doctor comments as he cuts the anesthetized foreskin, “Nobody likes this part.” [9] Often parents are told that their baby slept right through the circumcision; actually this is the second stage of neurologic trauma response. It is called dissociation, where the infant goes into a form of shock. [10] Dr. Van Howe simply concluded “All neonatal circumcisions are painful.” [11] The foreskin contains 70% of the nerves in a man’s penis. [12] Words cannot describe the trauma of this procedure; you must watch the referenced videos for yourself.

Given the nature of this procedure, the potential for abuse is clear. So the discussion on Dr. Amy Dunbar’s Facebook page is concerning, especially in view of the content, professional conduct of the doctors, and that apparently non-medical people were involved in the discussion. The fact that 10 people “liked” this particular conversation is also disturbing. It is doubtful that the baby’s parents would find this discussion amusing:

Dr. Amy Dunbar (Mercy Medical Center, St. Louis, MO): “Nothing I’d rather be doing at 4 am than a circumcision.”

Dr. Yulia Lifits-Podorozhansky (Mercy Clinic Fenton, MO): “Circs are at any time always so exciting.”

Nurse Marisue Riek (Aurora Medical Center, Summit, WI) : “Oh my God… Gomco or Plastibel!,…!”

Dr. Amy Dunbar: “lol. (laugh out loud)”

Nurse Bonnie Tarkinow-Marcus (Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare - St. Joseph, Milwaukee, WI): “Don’t cut anybody short!!!!”

Jason Anthony (unknown): “Better than a wagina. Or a wulwa.”

Nurse Angie Tipton Sqrow (Nurse practitioner at St. Luke's Hospital): “Bet the baby had better things to do. ”

The discussion ends with Dunbar’s comment that she had just delivered the baby, and so decided to circumcise him at 4:00 AM so she didn’t have to come back to the hospital. [7] Hopefully she was awake. Nice way to enter the world; just born then subjected to this. The critical mother-child bonding period following birth was replaced with this procedure.

There is no indication that this is a circum-fetish group, but the semi-public forum and lack of professional ethics and empathy are telling. Researchers tell us that childhood trauma causes changes in our genes [13]; MRI images indicate circumcision causes permanent changes in the brain [14], and researchers found that circumcised infants had higher pain responses as much as six months after the procedure and concluded that the trauma may “permanently alter the structure and function of developing neural pathways” [15]. What’s so funny about that?

The U.S. leads the industrialized world in circumcision rates, in sexually transmitted diseases, in violence against women, and in grown men who think they need to protect themselves from the authorities. Is it possible there may be a link here?


[1] http://www.circinfo.net/circumcision_humor.html

[2] Among many: http://circumcision-is-hot.blogspot.co.at/

[3] One of many: Snip-Snip (Florida State University, 2005) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KPmGS3sRok

[4] Although this study is from 1998, PubMed still shows this is a problem in 2012 publications. There are no requirements, or checks, on the doctor using anesthesia; traditionally none has been used. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/moral-landscapes/201109/myths-about-circumcision-you-likely-believe



[5] This is an extensive page; scroll down to the Gilgal Society section for published researchers involved in this activity. http://www.circleaks.org/index.php?title=Vernon_Quaintance

[6] Nursing Students Against Male Circumcision; Admin Facebook entry January 27, 2013. http://www.facebook.com/nsamc

[7] Discussion on Dr. Amy Dunbar's Facebook page (Jan 30, 2013) screen-captured above.

[8] JAMA; Study of Male Infant Circumcision - University of Alberta 1997, http://www.canadiancrc.com/Circumcision_Genital_Mutilation_Male-Female_Children.aspx

[9] Infant Circumcision Operation (Ben) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2PKdDOjooA

[10] The Effects of Early Relational Trauma on Right Brain Development, Affect Regulation, & Infant Mental Health, http://www.trauma-pages.com/a/schore-2001b.php

[11] Anesthesia Intensive Care "All Neonatal Circumcisions are Painful" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23194235

[12] Dr. Ryan McAllister, PhD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ceht-3xu84I

Dr. Ken McGrath, MD http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DD2yW7AaZFw

[13] Childhood trauma as a cause of psychosis: linking genes, psychology, and biology. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23327756

[14] MRI Studies: The Brain Altered by Circumcision http://www.drmomma.org/2009/10/mri-studies-brain-permanently-altered.html

[15] The psychological impact of circumcision http://www.cirp.org/library/psych/goldman1/#n12



  1. I read it as though she had just finished delivering another baby and decided to do a circumcision on a different baby in order to not have to come back later. Makes no difference on the ethics though.

  2. I couldn't tell from her post if she was circing the infant she just delivered or another because she was there. Don't get me wrong I'm against all cutting, but if she circed the brand new-newborn that is negligent, how would she know if he had any underlying medical issues that had not presented as he was JUST BORN!!!

    1. Sadly, even after a whopping day or two there is really no way to know. My daughter was diagnosed with a congenital condition at the age of 31 months of age.

  3. It doesn't sound like she was circumcising the baby she just delivered to me. Often docs will finish a delivery and then come by the nursery while they're there to see who 'needs' circing so they don't have to come back later in the day to do them. Many (if not most) hospitals have boundaries about infants having to be a certain number of hours old, having to be seen by a pediatrician, etc, before they can be circumcised. I am as pro-genital integrity as anyone, but I don't think this is a case of circ-em-in-the-delivery-room as used to be done.

    I agree this wasn't a very professional exchange. I hate it when people joke about circumcision. It's not funny.

  4. If this were a female baby we would not even be talking about whether the genital cutting was done right after birth or 24 hours or 48 hours later - we would be all around horrified. And the individuals cutting would be facing federal charges for a crime against an infant. How can this possibly be abuse for one sex and not another? No matter if the baby is new-newborn or 1-day-newborn, it is negligent and assault. To joke about such things is just a disgusting reflection of some disturbed people in this culture and our mode of thinking.

    1. I completely agree! Well said, Josiah.

  5. It does sounds awfaul when they joke and such but in all honesty TONS of doctors and nurses do this kind of "hospital jokes". My dad was a medicine seller from a company and he always had to be in hospitals and visiting doctors, he did this for more than 25 years of his life and you have no idea the many stories Ive heard. Its like doctors and nurses with the time they create this shell where surgery and such is like washing the dishes... in some aspects. They just become hardened and so they can even joke with these issues, ofc not all are like that but many are and is common.
    When I was going to get my appendix removed I remember being in the surgery room on the bed and I could hear the conversation of the doctors with instrumentalists and other staff, they were joking about a patient they operated and one of the doctors joked to the nurse "oh you loved it, I can see you taking the gut and sucking out of it"... really and I was there waiting for the anesthesia, they joked that way making the whole operation of that guy sound lik they were having sex and they all were laughing.
    Another time I was in the hospital a nurse that was attending me was having a conversation with a doctor and he said "so what you up to today?" and she said "Im thinking in operating my boobs" (she was looking one of those gossip magazines" and he touched her breasts and said "I can give you a prospect about the size that suits you best anytime you want" and they were giggling and he left and they werent a couple. What it cought my attention is that they would do those jokes in front of other patients, like, a daily thing.
    Im against circum and hopefuly these groups of fetichists will be cought and have their names public. But I also think that theres a different between "enjoying" (as a kind of sadist or having some pleasure out of it) than a doctor joke.

  6. I dont think that the doctor was referring to do the circum on the baby just born. I think what she meant is that she just helped delivering a baby and now she has to move on doing someone else a circum cause she doesnt want to go back the hospital.
    I dont know a parent who would let their infant be circum to be honest, at least, not an informed one. So I think her msgs were just misinterpreted.

  7. they should ban this horrific practise! I cant believe a male doctor did this and didnt feel sick! poor baby strapped down and being given a lollipop and all this before has even lost umbilical cord AND not under general anaesetic its SICK the baby had no way of tellin/confirming if the local anaesetic had worked/been effective enough! this is SICK! i would save that baby from them and its parents!

  8. It's disgusting. I was completely disturbed. I cried. To even joke about this by a doctor Omg!! That poor baby the way it was crying. This doctor needs to feel what they r doing to this baby!!

  9. Not to be misinterpreted--I'm very anti-circ--but I read the conversation as being very sarcastic, not fetishist. One of my friends is a recent nursing school grad and has been working as a nurse in an ICU for a year now, and she was telling me about the rather dark joking that all the doctors and nurses do about patients, ailments, and procedures. It helps them get through the intensity of their job. And while I agree that joking about torturing a baby is terrible, I can also see that if you were someone who performed a whole lot of circumcisions and didn't have an ethical problem with it, that you would joke about it in a similar way. The real problem here is that somehow all of these medical professionals have become so desensitized that they can do this to babies over and over again, see and hear their pain, and feel nothing.

  10. This is how this barbaric procedure done to innocent little babies is minimalized and made to sound like business as usual.....and sadly for this kind of doctor....it is business as usual. I think they just get to a place where they don't look at an infant as a human being and that is very tragic.

  11. Elisabeth H, RN, CPN2/06/2013 7:09 PM

    I'm a nurse and yes, we do use kind of dark humor sometimes to get us through our work. IN PRIVATE. IN THE REPORT ROOM... DOOR SHUT.... to do this on a public forum like Facebook is horrible. This is the same doctor who got into a conversation mocking one of her other patients and giving details about her obstetric history. That is a violation of federal HIPAA laws. The hospital seems to be trying to sweep this under the rug. At the very BEST... this doctor is irresponsible and unprofessional.

  12. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/06/amy-dunbar-obgyn_n_2630823.html?1360192161&ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

  13. I couldn't NOT watch the video as I don't think I would be able to pull myself out of the depression it would cause me. I think ALL GENITAL MUTILATION SHOULD BE BANNED!!! The baby doesn't have the ability to consent to the procedure. I didn't even pierce my daughters' ears until they were old enough to understand what it meant, knew what it entailed... this is sick.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...