Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Medicare circumcision rort

There is almost no medical reason to circumcise an infant. In countries where the genital integrity of children is respected, the procedure is almost unheard of. But in countries such as Australia, where the forced genital cutting of infant boys is culturally accepted, the practice continues.  And it continues with the financial support of the Australian Federal Government, through the Medicare Benefits Schedule.

Medicare claims that costs can only be claimed for ‘therapeutic’ (ie. medically necessary) infant circumcision. But given that approximately 12% of newborn baby boys in Australia result in a claim for infant circumcision, and that there is almost no medical reason for it, it is clear that Medicare is paying for non-therapeutic circumcisions.

I suspect that many doctors are falsely claiming a condition called phimosis, which is commonly known as having a tight foreskin. Read more about this phony phimosis diagnosis here.

The following chart shows claims for item 30653 (circumcision for a male under 6 months) for the calendar year 2010:

State Qty Percentage
NSW 8,707 17.72
VIC 2,952 8.17
QLD 4,791 14.52
SA 1,585 15.25
WA 1,111 6.92
TAS 49 1.48
ACT 166 6.24
NT 56 2.76

Source: Medicare MBS Item Statistics Reports

If all claims for infant circumcision in Australia were for therapeutic reasons, we would expect to see a similar rate across the states. Otherwise we would have to believe that:

  • there is major health crisis in all states other than Tasmania that causes a massively disproportionate number of baby boys to be born with such a serious genital condition that partial amputation is the only remedy; or
  • boys in Tasmania are suffering unseen/unknown ailments from their intact genitals, that are not being diagnosed by Tasmanian doctors.

The only reasonable conclusion from this data is that practitioners in all states and territories, with the possible exception of Tasmania, are inappropriately claiming item 30653 for non-therapeutic circumcisions. There can be no other explanation as to why 1.5% of Tasmanian baby boys need a circumcision, while 18% of NSW baby boys ‘need’ a circumcision.

Given the relatively small number of practitioners still offering the procedure, I suggest that it is likely that at least some of these practitioners on their own could be circumcising more that 1.48% of boys born within a State or Territory, and therefore, clearly rorting the system. The following table shows the number of procedures a practitioner would needed to have undertaken in 2010 to have circumcised 1.48% of male births:

State No. male births 1.48% of male births
NSW

49131

727

VIC

36139

535

QLD

32998

488

SA

10395

154

WA

16063

238

TAS

3317

49

ACT

2661

39

NT

2026

30

Other evidence that individual practitioners are making fraudulent claims can be found by looking at the consent forms that the practitioners ask the parents to sign. For example, the consent form from Dr Milton Sales from the Brunker Road Medical Centre in Newcastle states:

“I have been shown and understand the above risks and accept that this procedure is being performed at my request as the legal guardian of my child rather than for medical reasons.  I also understand that Newcastle Private Hospital requests payment of their admission fees either through a private health fund or if not insured, by paying $680 on the day of the operation.  I understand that the operation fee of $180 will be payable on the day at Newcastle Private Hospital by cash, credit card (please note that EFTPOS facilities are not available) or bank cheque (separate cheque to NPH fee).  This fee is partly claimable from medicare and private insurance funds.”

Note the sections in bold and underlined, which state that the circumcision is not for Medical reasons, but can be claimed from Medicare. This suggests that every circumcision performed after signing this consent form, then claimed from Medicare, is a fraudulent claim.

I suggest that it is time that Medicare, through the Professional Services Review, takes action against the doctors making these fraudulent claims.

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It’s so much worse for an adult

Why do we circumcise babies? Because they cannot resist. A common defense of routine infant circumcision is that “it’s so much worse for an adult to be circumcised.” Is it really? Australian blogger Lillian Dell’Aquila Cannon breaks it down:

http://www.moralogous.com/2012/02/20/its-so-much-worse-for-an-adult/

 

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Genital Mutilation – not in Australia, right?

We often get reports here in Australia on the abhorrent practice of female infant genital mutilation, which is carried out in some overseas countries. There are the typical “pearl clutching” reactions, and gasps of horror, followed by a small sense of relief that ‘we don’t do that is this country. Or do we? Yes, we cut our baby boys, but that’s different. Isn’t it?

Most of our society, especially the older generations like the former sex discrimination commissioner Pru Goward,  will stand up indignantly and proclaim that female genital cutting is mutilation but offer no position on male genital cutting. Much of this opinion however is based on the misguided belief female genital mutilation involves amputation of the clitoris and the cutting off or sewing up of all other external parts. The fact is that this extreme practice is rare, and that there are different degrees of female genital cutting. Some or these practices are clearly worse than male circumcision. Others though, such as a symbolic pin prick, are clearly less severe than male circumcision.

The following articles and blogs explore these similarities and differences, and why our society seems to accept one, but not the other:

Circumcision is child abuse: a picture essay

Female circumcision. Male circumcision. Is there a difference?

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Circumcision quotes

I’ve decided to keep a post on all the random quotes I come across online. I will choose one of these for the home page of the site, and will change it frequently. If one if these quotes is yours and I have not attributed it please let me know.

“The overwhelming majority of circumcised men were circumcised as newborn infants. The memory of this event is not in their conscious awareness. Consequently, the connection between present feelings and circumcision may not be clear. For example, a circumcised man wondering about its effects said: ‘It seems to me that there’s got to be a connection between circumcision and how I feel about my genitals and my sexuality. It just isn’t reasonable to me that there wouldn’t be a connection there. I think it’s something that’s so deeply buried that it’s going to take more exploration on my part for me to get in touch with it. It’s pretty disturbing that circumcision was the first sexual experience that I ever had.”
http://www.circumcision.org/discover.htm

“The reason that doctors accept these myths, when they usually are eager to accept the scientific evidence on most topics, is that circumcisers are almost always victims of the procedure. An important body part has been stolen from them and they have great difficulty dealing with that loss. If they are women practitioners, they have either agreed to having their sons’ foreskins amputated, or they did a number of circumcisions without thinking, then lacked the courage to acknowledge the harm they had caused.”~George C. Denniston MD, MPH
http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/DOC/circumcision_quiz.htm

“With due alteration of detail, the same ethical reasoning holds for male circumcision. There rarely are medical reasons for performing the procedure; personal preference or religious values of parents usually underlie the request. If these are insufficient to justify the circumcision of girls then unless there are distinguishing medical reasons, they are also insufficient to justify the circumcision of boys. TO ARGUE DIFFERENTLY IS TO BE GUILTY OF DISCRIMINATION ON THE BASIS OF SEX. BOTH involve what in other contexts would be called nonconsensual MUTILATION of a minor for non-medical reasons”.- Eike-Henner Kluge Ph.D. Professor with the Department of Philosophy at the University of Victoria , B.C., in his article on “Female circumcision: when medical ethics confronts cultural values” published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal – January 1993, 148 (2)

“MUTILATING(circumcising) the baby instead of teaching each child the arts of good hygiene is Very bad practice, bad ethics, bad theology and a bad idea.I do not understand how any religious system could ever endorse that. Female circumcision – I prefer to call it “female genital mutilation” is still practiced in parts of Christian Africa. It too is said to have health benefits. BOTH of these practices represent control tactics and guilt laden castration rites born out of the superstition and Ignorance of the past. I regard circumcision in BOTH sexes as a Barbaric act with No redeeming features. I find it almost laughable that the same religious voices that oppose the use of condoms would now support circumcision as a health practice.” ~ John Shelby Spong

Dear World: I promise you, you do NOT have to circumcise your children. You ARE smart enough to simply wipe them clean as babies. They ARE smart enough to rinse themselves off when they are older. They ARE smart enough to practice safer sex. The opposite sex IS smart enough to realize that missing body parts do not make for a better looking or performing lover. You ARE smart enough to realize that we don’t cut off any other body part ‘just in case’ and that logic applies to genitals too.” ~Woman Uncensored

“I feel that it’s an insult to presume that a child who would grow up to clean his fingernails, blow his nose and brush his teeth…would be too stupid to learn how to retract the foreskin and wash the glans penis– a procedure no more difficult than washing a finger.” Thomas J. Ritter, MD

“I grew up as the only intact boy in my area. I owe my good fortune to having unusually savvy parents. When a nurse came to take me to be circumcised, my parents said no because no male in my family had ever been circumcised or had any problems with his foreskin. Also, my grandfather was a druggist and had had to correct physicians’ prescriptions so that the doctors didn’t injure or kill their patients. At a time when most people treated doctors as if they were gods, my parents knew better.”
From Tight Phimosis to Full Retraction: One Man’s Stretching Experience

“It is true that many circumcised men are “happy” that they are. What is crazy is the response men (and women) who are not happy about it get. Are all these people maladjusted crybabies? I don’t think so. If you take a moment to reflect on it, why should any man be “well-adjusted” to the fact that an unnecessary penile reduction surgery was performed on him without his consent? Why would any spouse/partner be “well-adjusted” to the idea that a man’s parents decided to alter HIS penis’ “style” and features? It isn’t much fun learning the truth about circumcision, but despite the emotional turmoil such discoveries can engender, more men (and women) are facing facts. Do a search on “foreskin restoration” and you get ~243,000 results. That is not the number who search, but number of RESULTS. With all the advertisements and spam for “male enhancement” products, what is most astonishing to me is that we do not question the first product “sold” to us, “MALE DIMINISHMENT”, as the source for much of the physical and psychological need for “male enhancement.” ~Devon

“Factually speaking, circumcision is medical quackery, a scientific hoax, and a barbarous violation of human rights. Religious dogma aside, the psychosexual pathology of why this horrible practice persists in so-called civilized communities is probably encoded in the genes of aggression and in the perversion of sadism not unknown among medical doctors. Scientifically speaking, it is clear that the notion that the human male is an “inferior design” – the only mammal in creation born with a congenital deformity that needs immediate surgical amputation – turns evolution on its head. One only needs to see the shocked reaction on someone’s face when it is recommended that they have their dog or horse circumcised to understand just how absurd the whole business is. The foreskin system, which makes up the only movable part of the human penis, is no more a “mistake of nature” than are human eyelids or ears and it should be left alone.”
The Messenger (The Santa Monica Mountains News and Arts Publication), December 18, 1997 – January 15, 1998
http://www.sexuallymutilatedchild.org/call-it.htm

The Messenger (The Santa Monica Mountains News and Arts Publication), December 18, 1997 – January 15, 1998

“Perhaps when we stop chopping up the genitals of baby boys, the men they grow into will stop wishing to control the genitals of women. I find it ironic that so many women are so angry about men’s intrusions into their sexual organs yet so many of these women see it as their right to amputate part of their baby boy’s penis. The hypocrisy is not lost on me!” – Karen Kelly Glennon

“The vast majority of Americans are ignorant of the purpose of circumcision, and when confronted with it for the first time, often feel angry. That is understandable, but the only rational thing to do is to realize that you should be angry at the doctors for not telling you or your husband’s parents the truth. You can even be angry at fate for being born in the one time and place that circumcision was popular for non-religious reasons. The one thing you cannot do is to get angry at the bearer of the facts, because whether or not you like it, whether or not you blame me or whoever told you the truth about circumcision, the fact remains that the purpose of circumcision has always been to curb male sexuality, and it has been enormously successful. Do not circumcise your sons – give them the gift of complete and normal sexuality.”

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Dr Luke Bookallil

Dr Luke Bookallil

Parents from Armidale may be interested to read an article on circumcision that was published in the Armidale Express. An excerpt from this article reads as follows:

“Not only does the foreskin contain the vast bulk of the pleasure-sensing nerves of the penis, but it provides a gliding action that facilitates and enhances sexual activity of all types,” he said. “Before the 20th century it was well understood that the foreskin was the sexually dynamic and responsive component of the penis, which is why Victorian purity and anti-masturbation campaigners were so keen to cut it off.”

Read the full article here.

Dr Luke Bookallil falsely claims that circumcision prevents cancer of the penis, which is a Breach of Australian advertising regulations.

Coffs Harbour and Armidale

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Men speaking out against circumcision

I will often hear women say that men do not complain about being circumcised. While it is difficult to accept that their parents did something to harm them, and that their sex life has been compromised, many men are now speaking out against what was done to them as a baby. Read some of their stories here.

In addition, you may wish to consider the following:

– in countries where circumcision is more common less than 1/1000 men who were not circumcised as infants decide to have it done as an adult. In countries that respect the genital integrity of their baby boys, the rate is around 1/16000. That means that in Australia there is at least a 999/1000 chance that your son will be happy with keeping all of his genitals. And if he happens to be the 1 in 1000 that decides or needs to have it done he can decide to do it. If he is circumcised and not happy about it there is nothing he can do to completely get it back.

– It is estimated that around 200,000 men world wide are currently undertaking non-surgical foreskin restoration. It does not regrow all of the complex structures lost to circumcision but does give some of the feeling of having a foreskin. Read some of their heartwrenching stories at Restoring Foreskin.org.

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Dr Michael Read

Dr Michael Read
(Gold Coast Circumcisions)
Website: http://www.gccircumcisions.com.au
Email: enquiries@healthhq.com.au

2nd Floor, 95 Nerang Street
Southport Queensland 4215
(Opposite Gold Coast Hospital)

Phone: 07 5531 1170

Have you had any experience, good or bad, with this doctor? We would like to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.

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Circumcision in Australia: neither needed nor ethical

For those who are interested in considering the ethics of amputating a part of your baby, please see the following article by Robert Darby. I have copied the introductory paragraph below:

“Although Australian medical authorities have given a firm thumbs down to routine (prophylactic) circumcision of male infants and boys, the practice persists among a shrinking minority of parents. They are urged on by a small but vocal coterie of circumcision advocates, who blur the issues by referring to “male circumcision” as though the operation is the same in all contexts. Here I argue that circumcision is like sexual intercourse: legitimate in some circumstances, illegitimate in others.”

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=13123

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Is circumcision really painless?

Although circumcision is a quick procedure, it is extremely painful for the infant. The initial part of the process involves a forced separation of the foreskin, which is fused to the glans (head) in much the same way as a fingernail is joined to the finger. Many of our Australian doctors use EMLA cream, which the AAP says, “The analgesic effect is limited during the phases associated with extensive tissue trauma…”. Even the manufacturers of EMLA cream do not recommend it for infant circumcisions. But despite all of this our circumcising doctors in Australia, Including Dr Terry Russell and Dr Milton Sales use the cream, with Dr Sales then falsely claiming “They don’t feel the surgical procedure”.

For many years the doctors performing circumcision in Australia would claim that ‘babies do not feel pain’.  They claimed that their nervous system was not yet fully developed, and could not feel pain the way that an adult would. At the time the general public was more likely to believe whatever a doctor told them, but in recent years common sense has prevailed and most doctors know that they can no longer get away with this blatent lie. If an Australia doctor tries to tell you that your baby does not feel pain, I suggest you perform this simple experiment. Grab a piece of your baby’s skin, and pinch really hard. Do you think they will scream? Any caring parent would instinctively know that they would, and would not ever think to actually carry out this experiment. Why is it then that some still believe that crushing and cutting into one of the most sensitive parts of the body would be any different?

Most doctors in Australian use the plastibell method of circumcision, but despite claims by Dr Terry Russell, Dr Anil Kumar and others, the plastibell method of circumcision is in no way more “gentle” or “less painful”. Every single method involves cutting into sensitive flesh (they have to rip apart the foreskin from the head of the penis and make a slit down the foreskin to even place the plastibell). Read more information on the Plastibell method and watch Plastibell circumcision videos on the page below:

http://www.drmomma.org/2009/08/plastibell-infant-circumcision.html

See the links below for further reading on the issue of pain and circumcision:

http://www.mothersagainstcirc.org/painful.htm

http://www.thewholenetwork.org/8/post/2011/1/pain-of-circumcision.html

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Dr S P Cowie

Dr Cowie makes the suggestion on his website that because ‘you didn’t keep your umbilical cord’, that it is justified to cut off the end of your baby’s penis. I would have difficulty trusting a doctor that makes such ridiculous claims, and clearly doesn’t know the difference between something that is temporarily used during gestation and a valuable body part that is used for life.

Dr S P Cowie
(CricSA)
Website: http://www.circsa.com

Redgum Skin Cancer Clinic
174 Hancock Road, Ridgehaven, 5097
Phone: 08 83963398

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