This is more than a three months old. I never posted it because I wasn’t quite happy with it. It’s not current, but as long as Schoen is promoting circumcision or being listened to by parents, doctors, and educators, it’s relevant to publish.
Dr. Edgar Schoen wrote an essay on the end of the ballot initiative in San Francisco that would’ve extended equal protection to male minors against non-therapeutic genital cutting. Schoen, being the advocate that he is, again deals in misdirections and half-truth omissions to sell his unethical view. From the beginning, he refuses to play fair.
Fittingly, Judge Loretta Giorgi ordered the removal of the proposed San Francisco initiative to criminalize infant circumcision from the ballot. However, supporters of the measure continue to voice their undocumented and erroneous claims that circumcision has harmful emotional effects and no medical benefits.
That’s an interesting way to phrase opposition. I have no doubt he’s aware of individuals who state that circumcision has harmful physical effects in spite of the potential medical benefits. His equation is only the side he wants. If it doesn’t help his case, he ignores it and pretends that it’s a lie sold by people who don’t care about the health of children, which can only be achieved through circumcision. Somehow. He’s nothing but a propagandist.
These “intactivists” ignore the overwhelming evidence and the multiple health benefits of circumcision from infancy through old age, including a 60% protection against the heterosexual transmission of HIV/AIDS.
“Overwhelming”, being an adjective, is subjective. Declaring the potential benefits from non-therapeutic circumcision to a healthy child to be “overwhelming” is to ignore evidence in the way he mistakenly accuses others of ignoring evidence. That 60% protection against female-to-male HIV transmission also contains the caveat of high-risk population (i.e. sub-Saharan Africa rather than the United States). That 60% figure is relative risk reduction to normal genitalia (among adult volunteers in a high-risk population), not absolute risk. The absolute lifetime risk of female-to-male HIV transmission to American males is in the low single-digits, regardless of circumcision status. He’s playing loose with the facts because dealing with them honestly demonstrates how absurd it is to declare the potential benefits “overwhelming”.
Schoen continues this pattern with his standard talking points on the potential benefits, except he omits the potential aspect. Rebuking every claim he makes would be tedious rather than productive. Antibiotics, condoms, etc. His bias is decipherable (and embarrassing) once you see his only trick. Instead, it makes more sense to address his ethical and logical lapses.
The neonatal period is ideal for performing the procedure, as circumcision is quicker, less traumatic and has fewer complications than when performed on older patients. Newborns are very resilient and uniquely equipped to deal with stress, having high levels of stress hormones as well as pain-relieving hormones. The thin foreskin means that sutures are not usually needed like in older patients, and local anesthesia is effective at numbing the area to further minimize pain.
“Ideal” conditions for non-therapeutic surgery do not overcome the ethical violation inherent in imposing that non-therapeutic surgery on a non-consenting individual. He ignores the patient’s preference, the physical harm to each recipient, the implications of the complications that do occur to healthy children, and the physical differences between neonatal and adult circumcision. His approach implies that there are no trade-offs, that the potential benefits of non-therapeutic child circumcision are a surgical “free lunch”. He never acknowledges that the foreskin offers benefits, too. (He relies on the silly notion that the foreskin is an accidental leftover from evolution.) Dr. Schoen is either ignorant or dishonest.
Opponents of circumcision have no problem making up unintended side affects that can result from this safe and accepted procedure. …
This is ad hominem. For someone who cites women’s sexual preference for a circumcised penis as a benefit to neonatal circumcision, he should tread carefully with his ridiculous accusations. Either call out examples of lies, or don’t write the charge.
Defending circumcision as “accepted” is a logical fallacy. A popular position can be wrong. The principle matters, not the irrelevant opinion of everyone other than the male upon whom this violation is imposed.
The crux of his failure to address all aspects of this debate is this:
As study after study shows the benefit of circumcision throughout the male life span, one has to wonder what motivates supporters of this extreme initiative. No one is forcing them to circumcise their child, yet they will continue to take that choice away from other parents regardless of the available medical evidence.
“Throughout the male life span” includes the majority of his life when the male is an independent individual with the power to consent or refuse. Circumcising a healthy infant creates a circumcised adult, eventually. That is the ethical issue he fails to address. Yet, he only offers the irrelevant “no one is forcing them to circumcise their child” trope. True, but the actual issue is that someone is forcing another person to be circumcised forever, regardless of whether he wants to be or not, and in direct contradiction to his obvious, objective lack of any need for the intervention. That is unethical. Non-therapeutic genital cutting on a non-consenting individual is wrong.