July 16, 1998

Carolyn Reinhold
NOCIRC of Iowa
413 4th Avenue
Collins, Iowa 50055

The Des Moines Register
P.O. Box 957
Des Moines, Iowa 50304


I read today's column by Kathleen Parker regarding the sex reassignments of two boys who endured "botched" circumcisions.  I have heard of these two cases in my work, and they are tragedies made the more unacceptable because the circumcisions were completely unnecessary to start with.  These boys whose penises were, in the first case, "ablated" (i.e., cut off) and, in the second, burned so badly that it fell off offer only the grossest examples of injury as a result of circumcision.  There are many lesser forms of injury that the public never hears about which result in problems for the male in the immediate period following circumcision, as well as in the future, especially when sexual activity begins.

In an open letter to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the non-profit organization Nurses for the Rights of the Child wrote, "Parents are ... poorly informed about the sexual and psychological damage caused by circumcision.  Most parents believe that circumcision is medically necessary or have a vague notion that it is somehow 'cleaner' if the glans penis is flayed ...  As nurses who formerly participated in neonatal circumcisions, we have had the occasion to witness many 'botched' jobs ...  Upon consideration of the issues, we have come to the conclusion that every routine circumcision is a 'botch' job, since it is a brutal assault on a child's sexuality and a violation of a child's right to a whole intact body."  Further, Dr. Thomas Ritter writes in Say No to Circumcision!, "There is an inordinately large number of badly performed circumcisions with resultant deformed penises ...   If one performs an unnecessary operation upon a normal structure, one can accept nothing more than zero mortality, zero morbidity, zero complications, and zero unfavorable end results."

I think it is important to remember when discussing such complications that these babies came into this world with normal penises.  It is time for us adults to take a hard look at what we are doing to the majority of our baby boys -- and why.


Carolyn Reinhold