New Perspectives on Circumcision

Guest Post by Norm Cohen

Did you know that Michigan has one of the highest rates of non-religious circumcision in the world? 83% of newborn boys are circumcised (48,000 annually) at a cost exceeding $10 million per year.  Only West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky have a higher circumcision rate than Michigan.

The state of Michigan spends $3 million a year of taxpayers’ money providing 19,000 of these elective surgeries through Medicaid. Meanwhile in California, the circumcision rate has fallen to 23%.

Circumcision is the world’s oldest routine surgery, but still the most common one. It is the only routine surgery performed without a diagnosis, and the only routine surgery claimed to prevent disease. Long before it was claimed that circumcision prevents AIDS, urinary tract infections, or cervical cancer, the majority of American boys were already being circumcised. In every decade since 1860, American doctors claimed that circumcision prevents yet another disease caused by the nasty foreskin. Over 29 diseases were once blamed on it.

The tainted history of American foreskin removal and the growing anti-circumcision movement should prompt skeptical people to take a closer look at America’s foreskin aversion. It’s time to widen our perspectives and put this American tradition into its greater context.

70% of the world does not practice circumcision. This includes all of Europe, Central and South America, Japan, China, India and the rest of Asia, except among Muslims and Jews. The practice of routine circumcision died out in Britain and New Zealand, and it is dying out in Australia and Canada.

Europeans don’t take seriously claims for the health benefits of circumcision. In October 2013 a resolution calling male circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children” was passed overwhelmingly by the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organization. The month before, a multi-national children’s rights group, the Nordic Council for Children, passed a resolution asking Nordic countries to ban the practice for minors.

In March 2013, a letter by 38 top pediatricians from 16 European countries and Canada was published in the journal Pediatrics. It refuted the alleged benefits of circumcision and declared, “Physical integrity is one of the most fundamental and inalienable rights a child has.”

The practice of circumcision around the world raises many compelling issues for healthcare providers, parents, and the general public. There is a need to educate the public about this ancient practice that is generating modern controversy worldwide.

On Sunday, December 7thNOCIRC of Michigan will present, “New Perspectives on Circumcision,” a free event featuring national experts who will share the historical, religious, medical, legal, ethical, and cultural aspects of the unique and controversial practice.

The December 7th event will be held from 1:00 to 4:30 pm in the Michigan League building on the U of M campus (911 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI), in the Michigan Room on the 2nd floor.

“New Perspectives on Circumcision”

The benefits and risks of learning the uncovered truth about history’s most unusual surgery—and why it really matters.

This free presentation features the foremost experts on circumcision discussing many compelling issues for healthcare providers, parents, and the general public that are raised by the world’s oldest routine surgery, which is also the most common one. This poorly understood practice is generating controversy worldwide

Speakers include:

Robert Van Howe, MD, MS, FAAP, Professor and Interim Chairman of Pediatrics at the Central Michigan University College of Medicine. He has lectured and been published internationally on the topic of circumcision and has been a consultant to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

John V. Geisheker, JD, LL.M, has practiced medico-legal law as an arbitrator, mediator, litigator, and law lecturer for over 30 years. He is the full-time Director and General Counsel for Doctors Opposing Circumcision, a nonprofit physicians’ organization based in Seattle.

Location: Michigan League Building

  • Michigan Room, 2nd Floor
    911 N. University Ave.
    Ann Arbor, MI
    View map

A flyer about the event may be downloaded here:

The Facebook event page is here:

This event is sponsored by NOCIRC of Michigan.  The state chapter of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) informs Michigan residents about routine infant circumcision. NOCIRC is internationally recognized as the center of expertise on circumcision. It is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization of health care professionals and children’s health activists.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Norm Cohen

Director of NOCIRC of Michigan