News

National Post’s Barbara Kay: Nothing short of sloppy journalism

 

For well over a decade, Professor Morris has been waging a quixotic campaign against the foreskin. Although he has “no involvement in clinical medicine” and “cannot claim any more expertise on the topic of male circumcision than any other scientist,” Morris has sought to demonize the humble prepuce. So dangerous is this particular part of the normal male anatomy, according to Morris, that it must be removed from a child’s body before he can form his own opinion.     Brian D. Earp & Robert Darby (The Skeptic, 2014)[1]

 

Circumcision advocates are at it again, this time accusing the esteemed Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) of ‘sloppy scholarship’ and ‘inflated harms’ after the 2015 release of its revised policy on infant male circumcision.[2] In a recent ‘review’ article published in the Canadian Journal of Urology, lead author Brian Morris and co-author Dr. Neil Pollock urged that the CPS stance should be revised to be more aligned with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) statement of 2012, which they consider to be more pro-circumcision.

The National Post’s reporting of the review is filled with half-truths espoused by Morris, as well as this blatant lie: “The AAP states: ‘The new findings show that infant circumcision should be regarded as equivalent to childhood vaccination and that as such it would be unethical not to routinely offer parents circumcision for their baby boy. Delay puts the child’s health at risk and will usually mean it will never happen.’”[3]

Nowhere do those words appear in the AAP’s Policy Statement [4] or in its 32-page Technical Report.[5] Failure by the Post’s Barbara Kay to do basic fact checking about Morris’ quote is nothing short of sloppy journalism.

Furthermore, the Post article stated that ‘In the U.S., rates are increasing, to 61 per cent.’ That is a half-truth from Morris, based on an increase from 48% (in 1988) to 61% (in 1997).[6] Although rates fluctuate yearly, a 2013 report from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics confirms an overall downward trend between 1979 and 2010, when the U.S. rate of newborn circumcision declined from 64.5% to 58.3%.[7]

The most recent AAP and CPS policies both fail to recognize the many conservative prevention and treatment options that make circumcision virtually unnecessary. Phimosis (tight foreskin) is a normal physiological condition present at birth and will resolve naturally anytime between ages 3 and 18. After that, pathological phimosis can be treated with steroid creams, gentle stretching by the male himself, or by minimally invasive preputial plasty that preserves beneficial foreskin functions. Almost all sexually transmitted infections – including HPV (the culprit behind penile and cervical cancers) and HIV/AIDS – are preventable with good hygiene, limiting sexual partners, condom use and, more recently, the HPV vaccine. In short: You can wear a condom every time, or cut off part of your penis and wear a condom every time. Rarely is the radical step of circumcision called for.

In fairness to the CPS, it had three years to study the AAP statement, which could explain why it arrived at the same conclusion: to not recommend circumcision of all newborn males. Morris fails to reveal that the American policy was widely criticized as being out of step with world medical opinion, which largely discourages subjecting unconsenting children to medically unnecessary surgery.

Immediately after release of the American policy, the AAP policy was accused of cultural and financial bias toward circumcision by 38 prominent paediatric professionals from Europe and Canada.[8] They faulted the AAP policy for excluding discussion of the important protective, sexual and immunological functions of the prepuce (foreskin) and noted that the U.S. operates under a for-profit health care system; unlike Canada, Europe and other developed nations where health systems exclude payment for infant circumcision. The AAP was also faulted for its lack of recognition of the child’s human right to bodily integrity or the growing numbers of circumcised men voicing distress over a needless genital surgery imposed when they could not consent.[9,10]

Morris states that “There’s a lot of hysterical nonsense by the anti-circumcision movement that is really like the anti-vaccination movement, and it’s appalling when a body like the Canadian Paediatric Society can fall for this nonsense.” Recognizing long-term harm to men and safeguarding children’s rights to bodily integrity is not ‘hysteria’. Rather, it’s an increasingly mainstream view among medical professionals and human rights advocates around the world.

The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989.[11] Every nation in the world—with the exception of the United States—has ratified the CRC. Canada ratified the Convention in 1991 and, as such, is bound to it by international law. According to Article 24.3, “States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.” This has been widely understood to include routine infant male circumcision.

The International NGO Council on Violence Against Children reported to the U.N. in 2012 that male circumcision, female genital mutilation, and sex assignment of intersex children are “harmful practices based on tradition, culture, religion or superstition,” stating that “a children’s rights analysis suggests that non-consensual, non-therapeutic circumcision of boys, whatever the circumstances, constitutes a gross violation of their rights, including the right to physical integrity, to freedom of thought and religion and to protection from physical and mental violence.” The report recognized a host of physical, sexual and emotional complications associated with circumcision and recommended that “Health practitioners should be encouraged to work actively to eliminate these harmful practices as part of their codes of ethical conduct.”[12]

U.K.-based Child Rights International Network recognizes non-therapeutic circumcision of infants and boys as a violation of their basic human right to bodily integrity (2013) as well as their religious freedom (2015).[13,14]

In 2013 the Council of Europe weighed in on the issue. “The Parliamentary Assembly is particularly worried about a category of violation of the physical integrity of children, which supporters of the procedures tend to present as beneficial to the children themselves despite clear evidence to the contrary. This includes, among others, female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersex children, and the submission to, or coercion of, children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.”[15]

From our Canadian perspective, Morris’ demand is equally problematic.

As far back as 1997, McGill University ethicist Dr. Margaret Somerville made international headlines when she expressed her belief that infant circumcision, like any surgical intervention on an unconsenting person without immediate medical indication, is “technically, criminal assault.”[16]

The Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons warned physicians in 2002 to “…take heed of a profound rise in activity by citizen groups that …are bringing to light new evidence that the male prepuce may play an important physiological and psychological role in adult male function, which has to date been largely ignored in any consideration of harm associated with infant male circumcision.”[17]

In 2009 the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons issued its Professional Standards and Guidelines regarding circumcision stating, “Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, an infant has rights that include security of person, life, freedom and bodily integrity. Routine infant male circumcision is an unnecessary and irreversible procedure. Many adult men are increasingly concerned about whether their parents had the right to give consent for infant male circumcision. …This procedure should be delayed to a later date when the child can make his own informed decision.”[18]

Although Canadians often admire, respect, and mimic our southern neighbor for many reasons, we also pride ourselves on attributes that set us apart and align us more closely with European values. Rejecting harmful traditional practices and showing greater respect for children’s rights are such attributes and values.

In 2010, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians estimated that only 10%-20% of newborn Australian boys are still being circumcised.[19] One must wonder if our Aussie friend Morris thinks he’s lost his battle in his home country and is now setting his sights on propping up Canada’s dwindling 32% circumcision rate.

In the end, it’s vital to realize that Morris is an irrelevant individual with a long history of obsession with surgically altering children’s genitals, and that Dr. Pollock is a ritual circumciser who profits from operating seven circumcision clinics in BC, YT, NWT and Washington state.[20] Both have a personal interest in reversing Canada’s downward circumcision trend. Their ‘research’ can hardly be trusted to be unbiased.

More importantly, Morris and his co-authors are well aware of the global trend toward recognizing circumcision of healthy male children as a human rights issue. They are doing everything in their power to protect their interests by perpetuating obsolete medical arguments disguised as ‘new research’. Canadian parents deserve to know the whole story when it comes to such an important issue and should expect to read well-researched and balanced coverage in the National Post.

 

 

 

Dr. Christopher L. Guest, MD, FRCPC

Chief of Radiology, Royal Victoria Regional Hospital, Barrie, Ontario

Medical Director, Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership

______________________________________________________________________________

The Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership is a Canadian-based non-profit NGO composed of doctors, nurses, attorneys, ethicists, midwives, scientists, and human rights campaigners advocating respect for the basic human right to bodily integrity of all children – male, female, and intersex – to be free from medically unnecessary genital surgeries. www.chhrp.org

 

 REFERENCES

[1] Does science support infant circumcision? A skeptical reply to Brian Morris. The Skeptic, June 8, 2014 https://www.skeptic.org.uk/magazine/onlinearticles/infant-circumcision/

[2] Canadian pediatricians’ objection to circumcising babies ‘at odds with the evidence,’ new study argues. National Post, October 13, 2016. http://www.nationalpost.com/m/wp/health/blog.html?b=news.nationalpost.com/health/canadian-pediatricians-objection-to-circumcising-babies-at-odds-with-the-evidence-new-study-suggests&__lsa=aafe-f683

[3] Barbara Kay: Review puts to bed activist-inspired case on circumcision. National Post, October 18, 2016. http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/barbara-kay-review-puts-to-bed-activist-inspired-case-on-circumcision

[4] Circumcision Policy Statement – American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision. September 2012. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/130/3/585

[5] Technical Report: Male Circumcision – American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision. September 2012. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/130/3/e756.full.pdf

[6] Prevalence of Circumcision: United States. Wikipedia (accessed October 19, 2016) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevalence_of_circumcision#United_States

[7] U.S. Circumcision Rate Drops Over Last 3 Decades, Report Says. The Huffington Post, April 7, 2014. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/07/circumcision-rate-drops_n_5107637.html

[8] Cultural Bias in the AAP’s 2012 Technical Report and Policy Statement on Male Circumcision. Pediatrics, March 2013. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2013/03/12/peds.2012-2896.full.pdf+html

[9] A Preliminary Poll of Men Circumcised in Infancy or Childhood. BJU International, 1999. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1464-410x.1999.0830s1085.x/pdf

[10] Global Survey of Circumcision Harm. 2012. www.CircumcisionHarm.org

[11] Convention on the Rights of the Child. U.N. Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, November 20, 1989. http://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/crc.aspx

[12] Violating children’s rights: Harmful practices based on tradition, culture, religion or superstition. International NGO Council on Violence against Children, October 2012. http://srsg.violenceagainstchildren.org/sites/default/files/documents/docs/InCo_Report_15Oct.pdf

[13] Bodily Integrity. Child Rights International Network, 2013. https://www.crin.org/en/home/what-we-do/policy/bodily-integrity

[14] Children’s Rights: Call for adequate recognition of children’s right to freedom of religion or belief throughout UN. Child Rights International Network, November 25, 2015. https://www.crin.org/en/library/news-archive/childrens-rights-call-strengthen-uns-recognition-childrens-right-freedom

[15] Children’s right to physical integrity – Resolution 1952 (2013) Final version. Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, October 1, 2013. http://assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/Xref-XML2HTML-en.asp?fileid=20174&lang=en

[16] Circumcising baby boys ‘criminal assault’ Ottawa Citizen, October 17, 1997. http://www.courtchallenge.com/refs/ottawa1.gif

[17] Caution Against Routine Circumcision of Newborn Male Infants. College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, February 20, 2002. http://www.cirp.org/library/statements/

[18] Professional Standards and Guidelines: Circumcision (Infant Male). College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, September 2009. http://www.cirp.org/library/statements/

[19] Circumcision of Male Infants. Royal Australasian College of Physicians, 2010. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prevalence_of_circumcision#Australia

[20] Pollock Clinics – About Our Clinics. (accessed: October 19, 2016) http://www.pollockclinics.com/about/our-clinic/

CHHRP Launches Canadian Harm Survey

Males of any age, who were circumcised in Canada, are invited to share their experiences regarding psychological harm or harm to their sexual health that may have resulted from circumcision. The results of this survey will assist the Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership in better understanding the possible consequences of circumcision on male health and sexuality.

The survey is open until April 30, 2017. Please share this information widely and encourage males of all ages, who were circumcised in Canada, to participate.

To access the survey, click HERE or the image below.

 

 

Circumcision: Changing the Conversation

“Filmed at the “Healthy Mothers & Healthy Babies Conference” (March 12/16 ) Kira Antinuk RN and Dr. Christopher Guest presented “”A Historical and Medical Critique of Circumcision / Intact Babies: Avoiding Clinical Errors.”” 


The format of this presentation was unusual, Kira played a pregnant woman visiting her doctor (Christopher) who answered questions about normal genital anatomy, and explained what circumcision was.

The session was well attended by 80+ interested people.

A delayed start to the event resulted in an abbreviated ending, not giving enough time for their final points about human rights, but there was time for several questions, during which John Geisheker of ‘Doctors Opposing Circumcision’ was able to explain how many boys are damaged annually in the US by forced premature retraction.

From my vantage point, on a platform at the back of the hall filming the stage, I was able to see the audience (mostly women) were paying rapt attention and responded warmly with applause.

~James Loewen

 

Feminist and Medical Critiques of Circumcision at SFU Advocacy for Men & Boys

This event took place on Wednesday, March 9th at 6:30 PM PST at the SFU Harbour Centre, Hastings St, Vancouver, British Columbia.

“Last night a fully engaged and enthusiastic audience (full house) greeted feminist nurse Kira Antinuk and Dr. Christopher Guest for their presentations hosted by Simon Fraser University’s Advocacy for Men & Boys.

I was very pleased to be able to record this event and look forward to posting the videos soon so all can see these amazing lectures!” ~ James Loewen

https://www.facebook.com/events/1572681936389254/permalink/1572961283027986/

*Free Admission*

Join SFU Advocacy For Men & Boys for a two-part lecture + Q&A presented by two medical experts on male infant circumcision, a highly controversial topic in North America. For the first part of the lecture, Dr. Christopher Guest will present a medical critique on the practice. Some points that he will discuss are the historical origins, worldwide trends in circumcision, and an examination of the medical claims in support of circumcision. For the second part, Feminist nurse Kira Antinuk will be giving a feminist critique and her perspective on circumcision as well as her 13-year long involvement in the movement to promote equal genital autonomy for all children.

“A Feminist Nursing Critique of Circumcision”
SPEAKER: Kira Antinuk, RN, BScN
Historically, there have been few feminists who have advocated for the genital integrity rights of all children, yet a growing and diverse movement of people is challenging the frameworks in which we consider genital cutting in our society.

“A Historical and Medical Critique of Circumcision”
SPEAKER: Dr. Christopher Guest, M.D., F.R.C.P.C.
Male circumcision is a complex issue. Are health care providers providing current, evidence-based information which takes into account their professional ethical responsibilities?

Event made possible by the Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership – http://chhrp.org/

Hosted by SFU Advocacy For Men & Boys – http://www.sfuamb.com/

Canadian Children’s Rights Group Questions New Circumcision Policy

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA–(Sept. 9, 2015) – A just released policy on infant male circumcision by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) was judged today by the Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership (CHHRP) to be a step in the right direction, but was “nevertheless ‘predictably inadequate’ with respect to several specific issues.”

CHHRP Medical Director Dr. Christopher Guest, MD, FRCPC, said the new policy is consistent with international paediatric associations that affirm infant boys should not have their healthy foreskins routinely removed.

Citing the position of the CPS that recognizes the unique sensory functions of the male foreskin, Dr. Guest asserted that, “A growing number of medical associations now recognize that an intact penis with a foreskin contributes to sexual pleasure for the male and his partner.” According to Guest, in 2010 the Royal Dutch Medical Association concluded, “the foreskin is a complex erotogenic structure that plays an important role in the mechanical function of the penis during sexual acts.”

“Circumcision alters the structure of the penis, which inevitably alters function. Long term harm to men from infant circumcision has never been studied” Guest said. Despite this, Guest says men are reporting long-term adverse consequences at the Canadian-based online Global Survey of Circumcision Harm. Although the CPS failed to include it, Guest says scientific evidence has emerged that supports these men’s claims. In 2011, Dr. Morten Frisch published findings in the International Journal of Epidemiology showing that in Denmark, where circumcision is rare, ‘circumcision was associated with frequent orgasm difficulties in Danish men and with a range of frequent sexual difficulties in their female partners, notably orgasm difficulties, dyspareunia [difficult or painful sexual intercourse] and a sense of incomplete needs fulfilment.’

Guest faulted the CPS for inclusion of “convenient untruths,” most notably a discussion of HIV being lower in circumcised men. He says such claims are based on methodologically weak African trials, which contradict global HIV trends, for example the United States, which has a high circumcision rate, yet a significantly higher rate of HIV infection than Sweden and Japan where circumcision is rare. “Even if the African trials were scientifically valid, they cannot be used to justify infant circumcision because infants are not sexually active persons,” he said. “Soap and water and safer sex practices, including condoms, can prevent disease.”

According to Guest, the CPS failed to include crucial information from a 2012 report by the International NGO Council on Violence Against Children, which CHHRP sent to the CPS in 2014. The report stated that “non-consensual, non-therapeutic circumcision of boys, whatever the circumstances, constitutes a gross violation of their rights, including the right to physical integrity, to freedom of thought and religion and to protection from physical and mental violence.”

“Medical associations in the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, and others confirm that there is no justification for circumcising infants in the absence of medical urgency,” Guest stated. “The CPS is out of step with those medical associations, who also urge an end to the practice due to ethical and human rights concerns.”

Although the CPS concluded that routine infant circumcision is not recommended, and that the benefits of the surgery do not outweigh the risks (contrary to a 2012 claim by the American Academy of Pediatrics), Guest contends that the position statement is still insufficient due to its ambiguity in leaving the decision up to parents. “Parents are not physicians. They do not have the medical knowledge to decide if surgery is medically indicated for their child,” Guest asserted. He went on to say that, “Leaving a decision about medically unnecessary surgery up to parents is an ethical failure on the CPS’ part. Where else in medicine do physicians place this burden on parents, in order to obviate their own professional responsibility?”

“Preservation of bodily integrity is a basic and universal human right that the CPS must articulate clearly in future statements,” Guest said. “We Canadians, as well as our institutions and government, have an obligation to protect that right for all citizens, regardless of gender or age.”

The Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership was established in 2012 as a partnership of professionals in the fields of medicine, ethics, and law to further public education regarding non-therapeutic genital surgery on Canadian children.

 

CHHRP’s Follow Up letter to the Canadian Paediatric Society Male Infant Circumcision Policy Committee, Feb. 10, 2015

10 February 2015

Canadian Paediatric Society
2305 St. Laurent Blvd
Ottawa, ON K1G 4J8
Attn: Fetus and Newborn Committee

cc. Dr. Robert Moriartey, MD, Canadian Paediatric Society President

 

Dear Colleagues,

As we await the Canadian Paediatric Society’s expected policy statement on neonatal circumcision, we wish to inform you of an important recent development.

You are no doubt aware that in December 2014 the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) inexplicably decided that they needed to draft recommendations to inform expectant parents about the benefits and risks of newborn circumcision, as well as offering guidance to adolescent and adult males about the procedure. The draft was titled “Recommendations for Providers Counseling Male Patients and Parents Regarding Male Circumcision and the Prevention of HIV Infection, STIs, and other Health Outcomes”.

To its credit, the CDC opened the draft recommendations to public comment for a period of 45-days, terminating on 16 January 2015.

What you may not be aware of is the following:

    1. The CDC received approximately 2,840 comments. Among the comments received from individuals and organizations, 97% opposed the CDC recommendations. Only 2% of comments expressed support, and 1% could be considered neutral. The comments are logged here: http://cdc.intactivist.net 
    2. Some of the more salient responses from ethicists, attorneys and human rights NGOs are found here: http://www.circinfo.org/Centers_for_Disease_Control.html 
    3. The Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership provided its comments, which we provide to you as an attachment to this letter and may also be found here:
      http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=CDC-2014-0012-1138 
    4. The CDC requested the highly-respected U.S. pediatrician Robert S. Van Howe, M.D. to provide a critique of the recommendations. Dr. Van Howe has now submitted his 208-page critique— containing 1,351 references—which can be reviewed here:
      https://www.academia.edu/10553782

We presume that the CPS is still formulating its new statement on this matter and wanted to bring these matters to your attention in a timely manner.

In unity for the children,

Dr. Christopher L. Guest, MD, FRCPC Medical Director

Kira Antinuk, RN, BScN Nursing Director

Tim Hammond Outreach Director

David Saving Technical Director

Dr. Arif Bhimji, MD Advisory Board Member

Dr. Cameron Bowman, MD, FRCSC Advisory Board Member

Dr. Kaleb Montgomery, HBSc, DTCM Advisory Board Member

Jessica Forbes, RM Advisory Board Member

Kerstin Helén, RN, RM, BScN Advisory Board Member

Tony Chacon, RN, BSN, MN(c) Advisory Board Member

Geoffrey T. Falk, BSc, MA Advisory Board Member

Tracy Cassels, BA, MA, PhD(c) Advisory Board Member

Dr. Ali A. Rizvi, MD Advisory Board Member

Jennifer Pinch, RN, BScN, CD(DONA) Advisory Board Member

 

 

Attachment

PUBLIC COMMENTS PROVIDED BY
THE CHILDREN’S HEALTH & HUMAN RIGHTS PARTNERSHIP ON DRAFT RECOMMENDATIONS BY
THE U.S. CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL REGARDING MALE CIRCUMCISION

The Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership is Canada’s premiere not-for-profit group of health care professionals and scholars devoted to protecting the genital health and human rights of Canada’s male, female, and intersex children. We realize that CDC recommendations can influence some Canadians and are pleased to provide public comment on your draft recommendations concerning male circumcision.

In Canada, the practice of infant circumcision was once as widespread as it is now in the U.S. For the past several decades, however, none of our provinces or private health plans pay for infant circumcision, since there is no medical necessity to perform surgery on a newborn male’s healthy penis. That’s why hospital circumcision rates here are less than 10%, compared to the U.S. national average of around 50%.

Like parents in most of the world, we don’t view our newborn sons’ genitals as being somehow defective and in need of immediate surgical improvement. We trust in our parental abilities to teach our children proper hygienic behaviours as well as adoption of safer sex practices to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, all while still enjoying intact genitals.

That’s why the vast majority of our intact boys and men do not suffer the laundry list of maladies described in your draft recommendations.

We invite you to review the attached report from the International NGO Council on Violence against Children (2012), which states, “…non-consensual, non-therapeutic circumcision of boys, whatever the circumstances, constitutes a gross violation of their rights, including the right to physical integrity, to freedom of thought and religion and to protection from physical and mental violence” (p. 22). The report also notes, “The WHO review quoted three randomized controlled trials suggesting that circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring HIV infection in males. But this potential health benefit does not override a child’s right to give informed consent to the practice. The decision to undertake circumcision for these reasons can be deferred to a time where the risk is relevant and the child is old enough to choose and consent for himself” (p. 22).

Canadians are very much like Americans in many respects, except that Canada (like every other nation in the world except the U.S.) has ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 24 of the Convention calls on signatory nations to protect their children from traditional practices prejudicial to their health and human rights. Infant circumcision exposes children to unnecessary risk and, by the CDC’s own admission, is a social custom and therefore a traditional practice covered in the Convention.

We call on the CDC to revise its recommendations that appear to condone the practice of infant circumcision and to include unequivocal language urging health professionals to reassure parents that the vast majority of intact men and boys do not suffer foreskin ailments and that in those rare occasions when a medical problem might arise during childhood, it can be conservatively treated medically, and only as a last resort surgically.

They can also offer reassurance that while parents are responsible for making a myriad of decisions on behalf of their child (vaccinations, nutrition, etc), circumcision is not one they need concern themselves with. Indeed, such an intimate personal decision is best left to each individual male to make when he is of an age to have his own reasons (if any), and to understand and give fully informed consent. To usurp such a decision is not within a parent’s responsibilities and is a violation of their child’s inherent human rights.

CPS Policy Media Fund success!

A huge thank you to everyone for your thoughtful donations towards our successful Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) media response campaign. Special mention to George Vuckovic for his extra awesome donation!

All funds raised during this campaign have been earmarked toward paying for a targeted media response to the anticipated CPS policy revision.

Since 2012, CHHRP has built a reputation as an organization of reputable, respected health care and science professionals. Our Advisory Board, Board of Directors, and Partners work across Canada in positions of authority and responsibility. Your support means that we can have an impact at higher and broader levels.

Truthfully, we could not do this work without you. We, and the children we speak for, deeply appreciate your generosity.

In unity for the children,

THANK YOU!

 

CHHRP responds to the CDC

The Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership is Canada’s premiere not-for-profit group of health care professionals and scholars devoted to protecting the genital health and human rights of Canada’s male, female, and intersex children. We realize that CDC recommendations can influence some Canadians and are pleased to provide public comment on your draft recommendations concerning male circumcision.

In Canada, the practice of infant circumcision was once as widespread as it is now in the U.S. For the past several decades, however, none of our provinces or private health plans pay for infant circumcision, since there is no medical necessity to perform surgery on a newborn male’s healthy penis. That’s why hospital circumcision rates here are less than 10%, compared to the U.S. national average of around 50%.

Like parents in most of the world, we don’t view our newborn sons’ genitals as being somehow defective and in need of immediate surgical improvement. We trust in our parental abilities to teach our children proper hygienic behaviours as well as adoption of safer sex practices to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, all while still enjoying intact genitals.

That’s why the vast majority of our intact boys and men do not suffer the laundry list of maladies described in your draft recommendations.

We invite you to review the attached report from the International NGO Council on Violence against Children (2012), which states, “…non-consensual, non-therapeutic circumcision of boys, whatever the circumstances, constitutes a gross violation of their rights, including the right to physical integrity, to freedom of thought and religion and to protection from physical and mental violence” (p. 22). The report also notes, “The WHO review quoted three randomized controlled trials suggesting that circumcision reduces the risk of acquiring HIV infection in males. But this potential health benefit does not override a child?s right to give informed consent to the practice. The decision to undertake circumcision for these reasons can be deferred to a time where the risk is relevant and the child is old enough to choose and consent for himself” (p. 22).

Canadians are very much like Americans in many respects, except that Canada (like every other nation in the world except the U.S.) has ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 24 of the Convention calls on signatory nations to protect their children from traditional practices prejudicial to their health and human rights. Infant circumcision exposes children to unnecessary risk and, by the CDC’s own admission, is a social custom and therefore a traditional practice covered in the Convention.

We call on the CDC to revise its recommendations that appear to condone the practice of infant circumcision and to include unequivocal language urging health professionals to reassure parents that the vast majority of intact men and boys do not suffer foreskin ailments and that in those rare occasions when a medical problem might arise during childhood, it can be conservatively treated medically, and only as a last resort surgically.

They can also offer reassurance that while parents are responsible for making a myriad of decisions on behalf of their child (vaccinations, nutrition, etc), circumcision is not one they need concern themselves with. Indeed, such an intimate personal decision is best left to each individual male to make when he is of an age to have his own reasons (if any), and to understand and give fully informed consent. To usurp such a decision is not within a parent’s responsibilities and is a violation of their child’s inherent human rights.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Advisory Board,
Dr. Christopher Guest, MD, FRCPC

Promoting children’s health & human rights via education

The Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership is initiating a Media Fund. Our first project involves raising $1500 by November 30th to pay for professional dissemination of CHHRP’s official response to the upcoming infant circumcision policy statement that could be released by the Canadian Paediatric Society in the coming month or two. CHHRP plans to disseminate its response to the media via Marketwire, a pricey but effective means of media outreach that will target newspaper and television outlets, with a focus on health, parenting, and social issue editors.

 

• All funds raised during this specific Indiegogo fundraiser will be earmarked toward paying for a targeted media response to the anticipated Canadian Paediatric Society policy revision.

• If we are unsuccessful in hitting our target goal for this particular media campaign, we will still mount a response. However, the more funds we raise, the bolder and louder our response will be. If we exceed out target goal, we’ll take out some VERY large advertisements and consider any other suggestions you want to send our way.

Please help us to reach our goal. Any contribution, no matter how small, is very much appreciated.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/cps-policy-media-fund/x/3100886

CHHRP’s own Dr. Guest presented “Medical and Ethical Opposition to Male Circumcision” at 2014 Birth and Beyond Conference in London, Ontario this October.

The Children’s Health and Human Rights Partnership (CHHRP) was pleased to participate, for the third time, at the Birth and Beyond Conference in London, Ontario. Dr. Guest presented the following talk:

Medical and Ethical Opposition to Male Circumcision

This presentation included information about:

  • the historical origins of circumcision
  • worldwide trends in circumcision
  • the sexual and physiologic function of the foreskin
  • evolutionary perspectives on the foreskin
  • medicalization of circumcision during the Victorian era
  • examination of the medical claims in support of circumcision
  • circumcision and HIV transmission
  • circumcision and medical ethics
  • circumcision and human rights

You may recognize Dr. Guest from his video “Circumcision: The Whole Story” (NSFW), produced in association with the Barrie Midwives.

This is an extremely informative presentation, with rave reviews, something no health professional should miss. Be informed and get the whole story on male infant circumcision. If you would like to see this presentation come to your city please contact CHHRP at info@chhrp.org for more information.

http://www.birthandbeyondconference.ca/content/christopher-guest-2014

Copyright © 2016 Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership