Intact America Calls On The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) To #EndThePain At The AAP's National Convention in San Francisco
More Than 10,000 People Sign Intact America's #EndThePain Petition to Stop Circumcising Baby Boys after AAP Reports Pain Harms Newborn Development
October 21, 2016 (Press Release) - At a crowded press conference today outside the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) annual convention, Intact America Executive Director Georganne Chapin announced that her organization had successfully collected 10,000 signatures on its #EndThePain petition asking the AAP to stop the routine circumcision of baby boys. The petition will be delivered to the AAP's offices in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, because AAP leadership declined to meet with Chapin during its five-day convention at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.
"In the past year, researchers and experts have published eye-opening articles and studies that contradict the 2012 AAP statement that the so-called benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks," Chapin said. "Because circumcision is not medically necessary, and because the pain it causes is unmanageable and harmful over the long term, Intact America insists that the AAP issue a clear and urgent recommendation to its doctors to end the pain and stop circumcising baby boys."
The AAP Does Not Recommend Circumcision
Chapin said the medical profession and the public have misinterpreted the AAP policy to mistakenly believe that the AAP recommends circumcising baby boys. "The AAP has never recommended circumcising babies—no professional medical society does.The AAP acknowledges that circumcision is not a medical necessity, so it cannot recommend it. But that's not what people think, and it is not what doctors say to parents. More than 3,300 baby boys are circumcised every day," Chapin explained. "Circumcision generates $2 billion a year for doctors and hospitals. I believe the AAP has discounted the risks of circumcision to justify its call for insurers and Medicaid to pay doctors to carry out the procedure," she emphasized.
Chapin expounded on the risks in her remarks. "The risks are significant," she said. "An AAP task force study published in Pediatrics in January found repeated pain from minor medical procedures, even heel pricks, affects a baby's development and lasts for years. The task force recommended that the number of painful procedures performed on babies should be minimized. I say let's start with circumcision, which is purely cosmetic surgery and for which available anesthesia is not effective."
As with all surgery, circumcision carries the risk of complications, Chapin added. "At least two out of every 100 infant circumcisions have surgical complications, and the ultimate number might be much higher. A common complication is meatal stenosis, in which urination is restricted or compromised. Meatal stenosis only occurs in males who have been circumcised, and sometimes doesn't manifest for years," she said. "The true risk of newborn circumcision is not known, because—as the AAP has admitted—the complications have never been systematically studied."
Perhaps most significantly, Chapin said, AAP policy does not acknowledge that the foreskin is an integral part of the male anatomy. "When you cut it off, you rob an adult man of 14 or 15 square inches of erogenous tissue that is far more sensitive than the glans [head of the penis] that the foreskin protects. You also rob the adult man's sexual partner of enjoying the foreskin's natural lubrication and ability to glide in and out that makes sex more pleasurable for men and women."
Pain That Can Last A Lifetime
Two speakers at the press conference shared moving personal tales of the ongoing harms of infant circumcision. Niki Sawyers, a mother burdened by regret for allowing doctors to circumcise her son, said her doctor assured her that "the baby won't feel a thing because he will be numbed." She later found out that there is no way to safely block pain in a tiny infant, and that her baby son had been given only a sugar pacifier.
When the baby was brought back to her after his circumcision, "He was pale and his eyes were red," she said. "He let out a squeal that I had never heard. I picked him up, but he didn't want to nurse. His voice was hoarse. He had suffered a hernia from the screaming. I died inside. I felt like a failure."
Lloyd Schofield, head of Bay Area Intactivists, said the organization lost one of its founders Jonathon Conte to suicide last spring, after years of pain and rage over his own circumcision. Schofield quoted Conte describing his physical and psychological suffering from circumcision. "As a child, I grew up believing that my body was whole. I grew up assuming that my penis looked and worked the same as any other. I grew up thinking that the scar on my genitals was just a natural part of my body and that all men had it. I grew up figuring that the soreness brought on by clothing and masturbation were normal aspects of being a guy." Conte had been a passionate leader who dedicated his life to protecting children's rights to keep their bodies whole, Schofield said. "His death at the age of 34 was a tragedy brought on by a violation of his body when he was an infant."
Time To Revisit The Issue
Chapin called for the AAP to re-examine circumcision risks, particularly the physical and psychic pain it causes. "Intact America is ready to help the AAP reconsider its policy," she said. "The AAP needs to realize that it is lagging behind the growing public opinion that circumcision is wrong. Pediatricians should be told to stop pushing new parents to inflict needless and harmful pain on tiny baby boys."
About Intact America
Intact America is the largest national advocacy group working to end involuntary circumcision in America, and to ensure a healthy sexual future for all people. Intact America is based in Tarrytown, New York. For more information, visit Intact America at www.intactamerica.org, on Facebook, and on Twitter.