A man had several strokes which left him blind.
But, his eyes were not damaged – only the visual cortex, the part of the brain which processes the input from the eye into pictures, was damaged.
The most curious thing happened: bits of information fed from the eyes to other bits of the brain were interpreted correctly. The patient could even navigate a maze without help, without bumping into things – even though he could not actually see the obstacles!
Apparently, this is called ‘blindsight’!
So, what is it called when you can actually see things well, but still bump into them all the time? ;o)
This is the problem with ‘scaling up’: something necessarily gets lost in the process.
I recall when the Canadian government was ‘standardizing’ their IM/IT infrastructure, implementings seamless inter-operability and portability and other optimization measures: the result was that the whole system was now monolithic, with the necessary loss of flexibility and adaptability to specific, perhaps non-typical applications.
But it gets worse: the only vendors who could service this behemoth were those who were bundling and re-selling ‘the one big solution’. No independant little companies with clever, efficient and cost-effective solutions for particular applications could possibly penetrate this marketplace.
It got even worse: when employees, burdened by the monolithic ‘optimized’ system would write their own bits of code to add back the functionality their specific little segment needed, but which was lost due to this stadardization, they were not celebrated as innovators – they were punished as rogues and ‘not team players’ and, eventually, this sort of innovative initiative had been completely stamped out of our Federal civil service.
This predictably depressing – but important to read nonetheless – article in Washington Monthly shows how this process had occurred in the US, as hospitals strove to optimize their purchasing practices: they had ‘optimized’ them to such a level that now, highly superior products that would save lives – but which come from small innovators – have little or no chance to even enter the market, much less succeed in it.
‘ … Edward Goodman, the hospital’s director of infection control, wrote a letter to the purchasing department, saying Shaw’s product was “essential to the safety and health of our employees, staff and patients.” But Shaw soon learned that the enthusiasm of health care workers was not enough to gain him entrée; the hospital initially promised him a contract, only to back out three months later. Though he didn’t realize it at the time, Shaw had just stumbled into the path of a juggernaut. ‘
‘… One of the first witnesses was California entrepreneur Joe Kiani, who had invented a machine to monitor blood-oxygen levels. Unlike other similar devices, Kiani’s worked even when patients moved around or had little blood flowing to their extremities, a crucial innovation for treating sickly, premature infants, who tend to squirm and need to be monitored constantly for oxygen saturation—too little and they suffocate, too much and they go blind. But most hospitals couldn’t buy Kiani’s product because his larger rival, Nellcor, had cut a deal with the GPOs. ‘ (Note: GPO’s are the ‘purchasing optimization’ which has now gridlocked the hospitals, preventing them from purchasing better, safer and cheaper equipment.)
It also highlights something that ought to be a ‘no-brainer’, but that seems to be a mystery to our law-makers: exempting anyone – ANYONE – from anti-trust, anti-racketeering and similar legislation is destructive and will end badly, no matter how noble the motivations may be.
‘Then, in 1986 Congress passed a bill exempting GPOs from the anti-kickback provisions embedded in Medicare law. This meant that instead of collecting membership dues, GPOs could collect “fees”—in other industries they might be called kickbacks or bribes—from suppliers in the form of a share of sales revenue.’
‘…But, as with many well-intended laws, the shift had some ground-shaking unintended consequences. Most importantly, it turned the incentives for GPOs upside down. Instead of being tied to the dues paid by members, GPOs’ revenues were now tied to the profits of the suppliers they were supposed to be pressing for lower prices. This created an incentive to cater to the sellers rather than to the buyers—to big companies like Becton Dickinson rather than to member hospitals.’
‘Her creation is being heralded as a “Swiss army knife of cancer treatment.” Zhang managed to develop a nanoparticle that can be delivered to the site of a tumor through the drug salinomycin. Once there it kills the cancer stem cells. However, Zhang went further and included both gold and iron-oxide components, which allow for non-invasive imaging of the site through MRI and Photoacoustics.’
For her success, Angela Zhang was awarded the grand prize at the Siemens competition which highligts research excellence at high school level.
Vaccinations are an important tool to control infectious diseases. However, like any tool, they are not perfect!
The difficulty lies in the politicization of vaccination.
Like every other time when politics intrudes into a scientific field, the politicians cite science and scientists as their justification for action while the science itself becomes subordinated to and twiste by the politics of the situation…
One of the greatest problems I have with writing this post is that I cannot reveal my sources: some of these immunologists have spoken up openly, at the cost to their careers. Yet, immunology is such a narrow field that if I am too specific, they will be identified from my comments and they could suffer more censure for having spoken out. So, please, excuse my vagueness: much of what I do say can be confirmed through independent sources and I would urge everyone to do their own homework on this.
We can never get past the fact that real life is not like the laboratory: there are so many variations between people and factors in their environment that ‘ideal’ laboratory conditions can never be replicated when normal people are vaccinated. The efficacy of a vaccine is its ability to actually produce an effect – immunity – when the general population is vaccinated with it. So, when I use the term ‘efficacy’, I am referring to its effectiveness when administered to real people in normal life and not to its effectiveness in laboratory studies.
Most of the vaccines used today are generally deemed ‘good’ if they have an efficacy rate of 75% – that is, 3/4 – or more. And, yes – there are vaccines which do have high efficacy rates. However, there are also vaccines which have much, much lower efficacy rates – yet which have been approved for use. I am aware of at least two vaccines that have been approved (due to political pressure – not because the scientists considered them ready) when their efficacy rates were below 20%!!!
Efficacy rates below 20% means that less than 1 in 5 people who was properly vaccinated would acquire immunity against whatever it was that the vaccine was meant to protect from.
This would all be fine – if we were told the facts before we made the decision whether to get a particular ‘shot’ or not.
Unfortunately, we are not told the facts. As a matter of fact, our doctors are not told the facts: they are not informed of the efficacy rates of various vaccinations except that they have been approved for use. That, in my never-humble-opinion, is a problem.
It is a very, very serious problem for several reasons:
That is the problem when politics subordains science: the truth is distorted by half-lies. When reality catches up with over-stated benefits and under-stated risk factors, all kinds of suspicions and conspiracy theories arise which make people mistrust the politicians and scientists both. This is bad all around – but unavoidable if we let politics control science.
Only the full and honest disclosure of risks and benefits of vaccination can lead to their proper use as an excellent tool in fighting infectious diseases.
Every medical procedure has risk associated with it. EVERY ONE!!!
That is not to say that the risk is large: getting a blood test, for example, is a very low risk medical procedure. The benefit of learning from a bloodtest the information a doctor needs to treat a patient far outweighs the risk of getting an infection or something going wrong during or following a blood test for most people. Yet, you might not want to perform daily blood tests on a patient with hemophilia…
The same is true for vaccination: the danger of something going wrong is very, very low. But it is there.
In my experience, doctors and other health officials are likely to vastly understate these dangers: some because they truly believe that the risk is so small and the patient too dumb to make a right choice on their own, some undoubtedly do it because they actually get money for having vaccinated over a certain percentage of their patients. Either way, doctors and medical officials rutinely mis-state the dangers associated with vaccines and manipulate people into ‘getting the shot’.
People pick up on being manipulated – and most dom’t like it…
Yes, most people are poor at risk assessment – but that does not give anyone the right to deny them the very information they need to make their own choice. Part of being a grown up is making one’s own decisions – right or wrong!
There is a second part to my ‘risk’ rant: another aspect of the risk associated with vaccination which medical and health officials are simply not giving the general public sufficient information they need to make an informed decision. The fact remains that we know that some people are much more likely to have adverse reactions to vaccinations than the average person would.
Have you ever been told this? Most doctors who are not immunologists whom I have spoken to about this are woefully undereducated and, in my never-humble-opinion, almost criminally ignorant about this.
People who have problems with their immune systems are much more likely to have a dangerous reaction to vaccinations (and it is less likely that vaccines will actually work on them). Again, there are many factors to consider, so each person ought to do some independent research into this. People who have immune system diseases (like lupus and so on) are the most likely to have very bad reactions to vaccinations. Close behind them are people with immune system disorders: asthma, serious allergies (peanuts, milk, eggs) and so on.
[Aside: the theory of vaccination is that the 'skin' of viruses has a 'fingerprint' (made up from unique proteins in the bilipid wall of the skin of the virus). Once our body identifies the germ, it tries to create all kinds of antibodies and tests to see if any will kill the pathogen (infection). This trial-and-error method is slow and while it is going on, the germs multiply and make a person sicker. Once an effective antibody is found, the body makes a lot of it and uses it to kill the germs. Vaccination introduces dead or weakened pathogens into the body: this causes the immune system to make antibodies against. Then, the immune system 'stores' the antibody and whenever it encounters the germ again it can start to make lots of it right away, skipping the trian-and-error step. This prevents the germ from multiplying before the body is ready to fight it, so that it is defeated before it can make the person ill.]
Since the potential of acquiring immunity through vaccination (based on healthy immune systems – not ones that don’t work right) is seriously decreased and the danger of an adverse, potentially life-threatening reaction to a vaccine is greatly increased in people with immune systems which do not function properly, these people need to be fully informed of all the specifics and decide on a vaccine by vaccine basis which course of action carries the least possible risk.
This, of course, is not a concern for people with healthy immune systems.
There are other risks associated with vaccination, which do affect everyone. When multiple-pathogen vaccinations (such as the controversial MMR) are administered – or several single vaccinations are administered at the same time or very close in time to each other, there is some indication that the probability of an adverse immune system reaction is increased. However, I am not as knowledgable about these risk factors as about the risks associated with vaccination in people who are immunocompromised, so I am not comfortable saying more than that this has been identified as a risk factor.
Yes, there are risk factors associated with vaccinations. My post is nowhere near exhaustive – it just hits the highlights. Despite all of these, vaccinations are an important tool to keep infectious diseases under control.
Information is power. It is my deep conviction that if doctors and health officials gave people accurate information about both the benefits and the risks of vaccination, people would make more informed choices. Because they would be aware of the true (however small) risks, many of the hysterical reactions to vaccinations would be minimized, if not eliminated altogether.
A few days ago, I posted my thought on ‘The trouble with ‘circumcision’. A friend replied – in a private email, so as to save me the embarrasement of lambasting me in public – pointing out to me the medical benefits of male circumcision. His heart is definitely in the right place!
Still, this is a very important debate – which is why I thought I ought to post my reply to him. It was a bit long – I do go on a lot – so I split it up into two parts: the ‘physical issues’, and the ‘rights issues’, below.
What makes all the medical arguments for or against male circumcision irrelevant is that this is a question of rights.
Because removing a healthy body part – no matter how beneficial one may think this to be – is not something one person has the right to decide on behalf of another person.
Parents must do their best to look after their children. They must make decisions on their behalf regarding medical treatment when their children are ill or injured. But nobody – not even a parent – has the right to subject a healthy child to non-reversible medical procedures, amputations of healthy tissue or any other violation of that child’s bodily integrity.
Yes, parents have the right to raise their child as they believe best.
No, that does not give parents the right to subject a healthy child to invasive medical procedures or random amputations!
I am aware that many parents have ‘snipped’ their sons, truly believing they were doing the best thing for their children. Families that perform circumcision on their female children also truly believe that they are acting in the best interest of their child.
That is something we must acknowledge: these parents are not monsters who want to punish their daughters for being female! Or to hurt or damage them. But, their beliefs lead them to actions which DO harm and damage their children.
THAT is what we must address!
And it is not easy to admit that one was duped into harming one’s own child!
But it is important that we face the truth and stop tolerating this violation of children’s bodies and rights. Each and every individual can choose to become circumcised as an adult – and nobody else has the right to interfere with this choice.
Bodily integrity is one of the core human rights.
We must not tolerate its violations.
Even by well meaning parents!
I am sorry to have hit another point of disagreement with you – please, do not take this as an attack upon you, personally. Just that this is one of those instances where I think many of us, in ‘The West’, have ‘blinders’ on: we see the horror and just how wrong this is when we see a variation of this practice by a different culture – but we seem unable to recognize that we are guilty of exactly the same thing, in a slightly different form.
Perhaps I did not express my central thought as explicitly in my original post as I should have: until we recognize just how wrong male circumcision is, until we begin to respect the human right to bodily integrity of ALL our children, we cannot possibly criticize (much less stop) the practice of female circumcision.
I agree with your sentiment: until popular tide turns, boys will suffer and get ill – and, in some cases, loose their lives: but I lament this same outcome as the result of an unnecessary, traumatic amputation of a healthy body part!
We are both going to the same place: we just differ about which route is medically better.
Still, there is no counterargument for the human right to bodily integrity…. because there is no valid argument for ‘male-only’ circumcision on the basis of whose rights are supreme: the right of an infant to bodily integrity or the right of a parent to amputate healthy body parts on the grounds of their ‘beliefs’ – sorry, getting long winded here…
What I mean is that there is no argument that, on the basis of ‘balancing rights’, would permit ‘male circumcision’ while forbidding ‘female circumcision’.
If the parents’ right to amputate a child’s healthy body part on the grounds of their beliefs (religious, cultural, scientific or otherwise) are supreme – all forms of genital mutilation will be ‘in’.
If the child’s right to bodily integrity is tops, then NO form of circumcision can be permitted!
We must face up to that in our fight against female circumcision….
A few days ago, I posted my thought on ‘The trouble with ‘circumcision’. A friend replied – in a private email, so as to save me the embarrasement of lambasting me in public – pointing out to me the medical benefits of male circumcision. His heart is definitely in the right place!
Still, this is a very important debate – which is why I thought I ought to post my reply to him. It was a bit long – I do go on a lot – so I split it up into two parts: the ‘physical issues’, below, and the ‘rights issues’.
Thanks for the sensitivity of a private reply.
Still, I do stand behind what I wrote.
The studies, so often touted and cited to justify male circumcision have long been debunked. As a matter of fact, when it comes to urinary tract infections – circumcised males have a higher incidence of them than uncircumcised men.
Plus – I didn’t put this in the post because I thought it would bring a wrong focus to any ensuing debate – circumcised men have a much, much higher incidence of impotence than uncircumcised men. This is the direct result of cutting off all them pleasure-sensing nerve endings AND of desensitizing the glans by exposing it.
One has to balance the benefits and dangers of circumcising versus the benefits and dangers of not circumcising!
If you live in the middle of a desert, where you often substitute sand for water when cleansing, one could make a case for circumcision being beneficial. It is true that it requires a person to maintain a certain level of hygiene to clean an uncircumcised penis, which is not possible in a desert. Under those circumstances, the long-term damage from circumcision is less harmful that the damage from lack of hygiene to an uncircumcised penis. That, I agree with.
That is why circumcision arose among desert cultures in the first place.
But, we do not live in a desert. Our kids have the ability to maintain basic hygiene. As such, the danger of damage from poor hygiene and not circumcising our sons is very, very low – while the dangers of circumcising are in no way diminished.
While cleaning an uncircumcised penis, boys will learn that it is pleasurable to touch their penis. This naturally leads to healthy masturbation: something many religions forbid. It was precisely in order to prevent young men from masturbating that circumcision was popularized in our society!
As for the STDs….. let me just note that masturbation is a much safer sexual release for young single men than using condoms and a much more realistic option than trying to get them to abstain from all sexual activity altogether!
Which brings us to the claims that circumcised men are in less of a danger of an STD. The danger of infection because of a ‘tear in the foreskin’ only comes into play if people engage in high-risk, rough sex (rape, anal sex, multiple partners etc.) and do not use a condom.
If a man decides that he wants to engage in this form of ‘entertainment, he can choose to get circumcised as an adult. It will give him all the ‘protection’ he seeks (though, as I explained in the post, there is not a convincing case that this reduction in infection rates is the result of the circumcision itself rather than the safer-sex education that accompanied the circumcision in the adult male populations on which these studies were carried out).
Not circumcising him as an infant does not prevent a man from seeking this ‘protection from STDs’ as an adult – should he CHOOSE it!!!
Let me recap: Several decades ago, doctors claimed circumcision was ‘cleaner and healthier’ than leaving the penis intact.
You know, like about the same time these ‘same’ doctors prescribed thalidamide for morning sickness…
About the same time as menopausal women were pressured into routine hysterectomies – no longer need for the womb, so take it out, just to make sure. Right? Except we now know just how very important a role the uterus plays in the immune systems of post-menopausal women….
Let’s face it: many things that doctors in the past never even considered have since turned out to play an important role in our body. Randomly removing bits that are not diseased may have effects we have not even considered, much less measured their impact.
Current medical body of evidence – even considering the old studies – falls squarely on the side of ‘circumcision has no measurable health benefits – but it does have measurable harm to one’s health’. The push to continue circumcision is political, cultural and religious – and financial…. Remember, those who claim circumcision prevents AIDS get tons of international aid money to perform these circumcisions, so they are hardly an impartial source of information.
Let me put it a different way: have you ever examined what is under our fingernails?
TONS of germs!
Even the cleanest-looking nails harbor germs under them…. And kids’ nails? A hotbed of infections!
And – infants often scratch their faces with their little nails: you can see the danger there!
And – many kids stick their hands, fingernails and all, in their mouth! Or even – do I dare say it – pick their noses! Then they rub their eyes…
The potential for spreading these germs under their nails are, well, big!
And then there is the danger of blood poisoning from an infected hang-nail….
Just how much ‘cleaner’ would it be, how much more protected from infection would our children be, if we just removed their nail-beds while they were in their infancy?
After all – when they are little, the nail-beds are tiny. The scarring will be minimal. And if you do it early enough in infancy, they won’t really understand the pain, or remember it.
So, all parents who want their kids to be clean and healthy should have their infants’ nail-beds surgically removed!
Let’s face it – it is the same argument….
This is one of those ‘charged issues’: moral and religious issues get muddled up with cultural prejudices and pseudo-scientific propaganda. So, I’m really not sure where and how to begin…
The easy one first…
So much has been written about this, I will not go into details of the various ‘levels’ of female genital mutilation (recently re-named ‘female genital cutting’ in order to escape the deservedly bad PR). I’ll just note that it is a horrible thing which I condemn.
Rather, I would like to concentrate on the 3 reasons ‘why’ ‘female circumcision’ is practiced.
Many Muslims believe that Islam mandates both female and male circumcision because in the Islamic texts, the sex act is, at times, referred to as ‘when the circumcised parts meet’. This makes many Muslims believe that in order to emulate the prophet Muhammad, as their religion commands, both men and women ought to be circumcised – despite the fact that Muhmmad himself urged that ‘cutting less is better than cutting more’ because this ‘increases pleasure for both the man and the woman’ (I am paraphrasing).
Some cultures have such contempt for women that they believe that without removing the clitoris, a woman would not be able to control her sexual urges and would copulate with anyone, anytime. Therefore, removing a source of sexual pleasure will help protect her honour and the honour of her family.
But contempt for women is not the only cultural reason for this practice.
In some places, like Ethiopia, female circumcision is a cultural custom, practiced both by Muslims and Christians. It is part of the cultural fabric: the mom was ‘circumcised’, the grandma was ‘circumcised’, so the possibility that the daughter might not be ‘circumcised’ does not even occur to anyone. It’s just what is done!
I have commented on this phenomenon before: people cannot possibly stop a harmful practice if it never actually occurs to them that there is something they could – and should – question…. It is only after people figure out that that something could be questioned that the actual battle for change can begin.
As bizarre as it seems to us, there are people (women) who honestly believe that complete clitorectemy is medically necessary. I saw a video (long ago) of an old woman who was renown as an expert practitioner of clitorectemy explaining (through an interpreter) that unless the clitoris is removed before puberty, it will grow and suffocate the child during childbirth. She even cited ‘real evidence’, where women had ‘bad, partial’ ones and the baby suffocated in the womb…
Of course, most of us would recognize this as a symptom of the ‘operation’ itself: the severe scaring which results in less flexible tissues which do not stretch properly, which causes the child to suffocate in the birth canal. But, they ‘have their observations’ and truly and honestly believe that full clitorectemies are a medical necessity.
‘Female circumcision’ is practiced for religious and cultural reasons as well as because trusted members of their society who preform the clitorectomies honestly believe that it is medically beneficial to do so and are believed by the members of their society.
Here, in The West, this vile and inhumane and – well, horrible, sadistic torture – is not tolerated.
Unfortunately, recent voices – from among the people who would be the ones who wish to perform (and benefit financially from doing so) this procedure – have began a propaganda to normalize this practice ‘for the good of the little girls’! Their argument goes something like this:
The choice we are facing (they convincingly explain) is between horrible, painful, ‘back-shack-clitorectomies’ with no anaesthesia or even clean surgical instruments on one hand, and permitting a ‘ritual nick’ or ‘ritual pin-prick’ here, in the safety of a sanitary medical facility.
It’s the only safe option!
Don’t you care about these girls safety?
Please, consider, really consider, why is it that our political and cultural leaders are having such a hard time rejecting this flimsy excuse and ripping it to shreds for the ‘soft-racism’ and financial self-interest it so thinly veils?
I think that most of us would arrive at ‘the other circumcision’….
We tolerate it.
Many of us practice it.
If we permit bits of male infants’ genetalia to be chopped off (without anaesthetics to boot), how can we effectively combat a similar practice on female infants? Equality of the sexes and all….
Which brings me to:
Again, most of us are familiar with the ‘mechanics’ of what the term refers to. And, many of us, in The West, accept it as unquestioningly as that Ethiopian clitorectemist accepts ‘female circumcision’!
Some of us have, however, began to question this extremely painful practice which can lead to permanent re-wiring of a newborn’s brain. Many studies demonstrate that male infants who underwent circumcision display symptoms of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) months or even years later and that the neurological damage the infant suffers may cause life-long damage. And, most doctors now know that perfectly well.
And, there is always the issue of where do the rights of the parent end and the rights of the child begin….
Let me quote from the policy manual on non-therapeutic male circumcision by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia:
“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. Therefore, many consider it to be “unwarranted mutilating surgery”.
There are 3 reasons:
The first thing most of us (at least, those of us born in Europe) think of when we hear ‘male circumcision’ is the practice of Judaism. So, for those of the Jewish faith, this has sort of been ‘grandfathered in’ and is never really questioned. Even though it goes on and on about how Jews must also circumcise their slaves…
If nothing else, that ought to give us a moment of pause: Jews are mandated by God to circumcise all their slaves?!?!?
Well, the Bible says so.
So, how did this practice enter the North American society?
Victorian ‘religious puritans’ (for lack of a better term) brought in the practice in order to decrease young men’s sexual pleasure so they would stop masturbating and spent more time thinking about God.
By removing the skin that protects the glans of the penis, the very sensitive nerve endings are constantly rubbed by ‘stuff’ – from undies on. This ‘constant stimulation’ is too much – so the brain decreases the sensitivity of these nerves. (Sort of like once you’ve been in cold water for a while, the nerve impulses screaming the message ‘this water is cold’ become weakened and you are ‘used to the temperature’.)
That is the reasoning behind removing the foreskin. By constant mild stimulation, the strength of the pleasure signals decreases and the mutilated man can better keep his mind on God!
To sum it up: just like ‘female circumcision’, the religious goal of ‘male circumcision’ is the reduction of sexual pleasure.
In North America, this practice became so deeply culturally entrenched that, for generations, nobody questioned the practice. It was ‘simply done’. Promoted on the grounds of hygiene, the religious origins of this practice became forgotten by much of the population and became ‘the norm’.
Now, some parents circumcise their male infants ‘so they would not feel different from dad and/or other boys’… I know – I have seen it.
Many medical practitioners who perform infant circumcisions claim all kinds of wonderful medical benefits as a result of the procedure. Sort of like that Ethiopian clitorectomist does….
And there are tons of claims that circumcision reduces AIDS and other infections…. Yet, for each one of these studies, there are others that prove this is not so. And if one reads these ‘circumcision reduces AIDS’ studies, you will find that ‘circumcision’ in these studies is accompanied by a comprehensive education on AIDS and other STDs…. Yet, the studies do not make any difference between reduction in AIDS through education or circumcision. That is kind of like saying that learning the alphabet will make you good at math without mentioning that to learn the alphabet, you go to school where you are taught both the alphabet and the math….
So, what do the ‘Western’ MDs say about the medical benefits of male circumcision? Let’s see what the CPSCB has to say about the ‘Medical Perspecives’ (my emphasis):
Circumcision removes the prepuce that covers and protects the head or the glans of the penis. The prepuce is composed of an outer skin and an inner mucosa that is rich in specialized sensory nerve endings and erogenous tissue. Circumcision is painful, and puts the patient at risk for complications ranging from minor, as in mild local infections, to more serious such as injury to the penis, meatal stenosis, urinary retention, urinary tract infection and, rarely, even haemorrhage leading to death. The benefits of infant male circumcision that have been promoted over time include the prevention of urinary tract infections and sexually transmitted diseases, and the reduction in risk of penile and cervical cancer. Current consensus of medical opinion, including that of the Canadian and American Paediatric Societies and the American Urological Society, is that there is insufficient evidence that these benefits outweigh the potential risks. That is, routine infant male circumcision, i.e. routine removal of normal tissue in a healthy infant, is not recommended.
In other words, any claims of medical benefits of male circumcision are about as well grounded in fact as the Ethopian woman’s belief that not cutting out the clitoris will cause it to grow so bit, it will suffocate the infant during childbirth!
Yet – we tolerate it….
Both male and female circumcision is done for the same reasons: religious and cultural pressures to decrease the ability of the individual to experience sexual pleasure, medical misinformation and cultural momentum.
Until we recognize the parallels between the two and criminalize the practice of parents imposing this choice onto their children, we cannot pretend we are a civilized people who respect basic human rights!