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

“Scientists Fair 2014” (Saturday, May 31st)

A2 S&S Logo - for Blog

On Saturday May 31st, the Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics are hosting the third annual “Scientists Fair,” a science fair where the exhibits are actual scientists.  The event will take place from 1:00pm to 3:00pm. This will be free and open to both Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics members and the public.

Located in the Multi-Purpose room (in the lower level of the main branch), there will be several professors and researchers from the University of Michigan with expertise in general fields of knowledge, available to answer your questions. Some of the topics will include: Astrochemistry, Geology & Earth Science, Exploring Mars, Climate Science, Medical Research, Nuclear Power, and more

You can watch a short video about the Scientists Fair here (video)

The purpose of this event is two-fold:

  1. For our members and the public to not only acquaint people to scientific knowledge, but also to how that knowledge is obtained.
  2. For the scientists and professors to talk about their research with you, and to share with you their excitement and passion.

There is no reservation limit for this meet-up. And we are encouraging you to invite as many of your family and friends who enjoy science. This year the library is sponsoring our event, and we’d really like to get a big turnout.

Download Now – “AntiCancer Drug Research”

Eugene ManleyThis is the audio recording of the 10/26 meet-up with Dr. Eugene Manley.  Dr. Manley did his PhD work on studying anti-cancer drugs, and analyzed cancer stem cells in lung cancer.

This conversation has been edited.  Much of the discussion centers around various types of cancers and anti-cancer drug treatments, and then the discussion shifts to the roles/responsibilities of researchers that details the day-to-day duties, animal testing issues, and various ways researchers obtain funding and grants.


Informal Meet-Up (03/27) – “Screening: “Bitter Pill””

event_211774242The Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics have been invited to attend a screening of a documentary called Bitter Pill: America and Healthcare in America on Wednesday, March 27th.

Directed and produced by Vivek Palavali, neurosurgeon from Flint, Michigan and supporter of local science and freethought groups throughout the area, this documentary presents a sophisticated and wide-ranging examination on the state of healthcare in America.

The screening will be presented by the director himself, in the lower level of Elmo’s Hideaway (Elmo’s T-Shirts on 220 Main Street).  The movie will start at approximately 7:00pm.  There will be a Q&A directly after the movie. There is no charge to attend this screening. event_211775082

Download Now – “The Ethics of Animal Testing”

CarlCohenThis is the audio recording of the 02/16 meet-up with Carl Cohen.  The topic for the get-together was to better acquaint ourselves with Cohen’s arguments that animals do not have rights, and thus can be used for animal testing.

Carl Cohen is a professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan.  You can find out more about his activisim in a variety of controversial areas by visiting his wikipedia page.

I’ve provided a list of conversation highlights and time marks for easier locating: (how Carl Cohen become involved in animal rights at 1:00), (on animals being used in research at 5:00), (explaining rights and obligations at 9:00), (what animal research would be too far or not allowable at 15:00), a discussion of rights and interests at 24:00), (how animals were used in testing Polio vaccines at 32:00), (on using mice in labs at 44:00), (on Nobel prizes in medicine based on animal research at 53:00), (on “consent” at 1:00:00), (analogy between animals and humans who are cognitively impaired at 1:08:00), (on pain and suffering at 1:14:00), (return to “consent” and sex with animals at 1:22:00).