Author Archives: Simon Harris

Every six months or so a group of pro-cutters will issue a press release to the Australian media with the latest ‘reason’ to rush out and circumcise your baby before it’s ‘too late’. The formula they use is predictable, and always uses one or more of these strategies. This should be mandatory reading if you are expecting a baby boy, because you will now be able to identify how they are trying to manipulate you. Or if you are a health or lifestyle journalist perhaps you will be able to put that media release under a little more scrutiny.

Intactivists of Australasia

Circumcision - penis size australiaTo convince otherwise well-meaning parents to take their precious, perfectly formed baby boy and amputate one of the most intimate, sensitive parts of his body would take a compelling argument. While cultural and religous influences can be strong, certain pro-circumcision individuals and groups have devised a formula to help parents go against their instincts and have their baby circumcised. We reveal the secrets to their formula to help Australian and New Zealand parents identify when they are about to be conned:

1) Keep releasing new and recycling ‘studies’ pointing to the mostly-discredited medical benefits of circumcision (perpetuating the fake ‘debate amongst experts’).

2) Frame the debate as an issue of ‘parental rights’ (as if parents choosing elective surgery for their children is somehow a right or valid parental choice). Avoid the topic of human/children’s rights – and if it comes up – compare circumcision to everyday food, education and vaccination…

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But isn’t it just a ‘useless flap of skin’?

This is a phrase that I heard quite a bit growing up in Australia. It seems it was used to make us feel better about not having all of our genitals. There are a few things that disturb me about this phrase. Firstly, the word ‘flap’ implies that it is this loose extra bit of skin that just flops around and gets in the way. The truth is that it is not a ‘flap’, but a tight structure that sits snugly all the way around the circumference of the glans. It has many functions, including a sophisticated ‘gliding’ or ‘rolling’ mechanical action during sexual activity – something that is difficult to explain to a generation of Australian men and their partners who have never experienced sex as nature intended it.

Futher information on the function of the foreskin can be found at the following link:

http://skinfore.blogspot.com.au/

 

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David was featured on Australian 60 Minutes many years ago, before he tragically took his own life. This is one the initial things that got me thinking about my own circumcision, and how damaging it is.

The Intact America Blog

Eight years ago today, on May 5, 2004, David Reimer took his own life. Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, a twin son of working class Canadian parents, David became famous as the subject of John Colapinto’s book, As Nature Made Him—the story of a boy forced to live as a girl until, upon finding out the truth about his history, he heroically emerged as… well, as himself.

John Colapinto’s book about David is a must-read for anybody interested in gender, identity, the runaway abuses of the medical and research establishment, and the boundlessness of the human spirit. The event that shaped the Reimer family’s life was a botched circumcision that caused David to lose his penis. But this story is not exactly about circumcision. Rather, it is about the abuse of power, about malevolence masquerading as rationality, and about the failed theory that “nurture” (whether through the shaping of children’s…

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Circumcision and cancer of the penis in Australia

Circumcision is often quoted as being “a cure searching for a disease”. It was made popular in western societies in the Victorian period as a cure for masturbation, which was thought to be an evil that then caused all sorts of diseases.

Since then, pro-circumcision advocates have tried to find a disease that circumcision will ‘cure’ or prevent. One of the latest inventions is that somehow circumcision can prevent cancer of the penis.

The only person I’ve ever heard who contracted penile cancer was Al Pacino’s character Benjamin ‘Lefty’ Ruggiero from the Johnny Depp film ‘Donnie Brasco’. Apart from this, does anyone know anyone in Australia who has cancer of the penis? No? Well that is because it is extremely rare, accounting for less than 1% of all male cancers. And those cases occur in elderly men. Even if circumcision was a factor, would you amputate a healthy, functional part of your baby to try to reduce the risk of a cancer he has only a slight chance of getting late in life?

In any case, the medical world agrees that circumcision is unlikely to be a factor. The real world evidence shows that there is no difference in the rate of cancer of the penis between countries with relatively high circumcision rates (such as the USA) and low circumcision rates (such as Sweden). This is from the Cancer Council of Australia:

“In developed countries penile cancer is a relatively rare disease, with an incidence of approximately 1 in 100,000. The absence of randomised controlled trial evidence, combined with the rarity of penile cancer, suggests that circumcision is not justified for the sole purpose of protecting against penile cancer”

Read the full statement here.

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The Intact America Blog

As more and more Americans realize they’ve been sold a bill of goods about circumcision, and as fewer parents are willing to allow their sons to be tied down and mutilated for a fee, physicians and others with a financial or psychological interest struggle to find new reasons for promoting the Great American Rip-Off .

This week’s example comes via an article published in the journal Cancer, which describes a “statistical sampling” study leading to the conclusion that circumcision may lead to lower prostate cancer rates. “Circumcision,” the study claims, “can hinder infection and inflammation that may lead to this malignancy.”

I could say a lot about this “study,” but in the interest of brevity and timeliness, I will limit myself to the following:

First, the authors relied on self-reporting for circumcision status, history of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and age at first intercourse. Self-reports about disease history and…

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The Plastibell circumcision technique

The plastibell technique is the most popular method for circumcision in Australia.This technique involves applying the plastibel devcie so that it restricts the blood flow to the foreskin until the tissue dies and drops off. It is similar to a controversial technique used in farming in Australia for docking an animal’s tail and castration, where a rubber band (elastrator) is used.

While the pro-cutting doctors will try to tell you that the risks are minimal, you should know that babies do die as a direct result of being circumcised by the Plastibell technique:

Ontario boy dies after complications from circumcision

Canada: Circumcision questioned following plastibell death

One myth about this technique is that it doesnt involve cutting. See this post from BubHub on the truth of what is involved.

More information can be found at the following links:

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

http://www.drmomma.org/2012/03/plastibell-lie.html

Warning: graphical pictures of severe infections as a result of Plastibell circumcisions:

http://www.cirp.org/library/complications/woodside2/

http://www.drmomma.org/2009/11/massive-infection-takes-over-body-after.html

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Circumcision decision maker

Circumcision is a permament body modification that will affect your child’s comfort and every sexual experience for life. Therefore it is a decision that should not be taken lightly. The following decision making tool will help you make this decision:

Circumcision decision maker.

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A new father’s view of circumcision

Finding out that you’re going to be a parent is an exciting, yet surreal, moment.

But, if you’ve got a boy on the way, one of the decisions you’ll need to make is whether his penis will circumcised or not. This is the decision that my fianceé left to me last year when we found out the sex.

Anna was indifferent about it, and I just assumed our boy would be circumcised, mostly because I am myself. We also live in the United States (New Jersey to be particular) and it just seemed like something everybody does.

Read the full article at the following link:
http://sites.google.com/site/completebaby/father

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The Intact America Blog

As you may know, Alan Cumming, star of stage and screen, is a vocal supporter of intactivism, and serves on Intact America’s Board of Advocates. Alan was recently asked by the Wall Street Journal to write about circumcision, but the paper’s editors ultimately felt his essay was “too raw” for their readers. We are delighted to print it here, with Alan’s permission, in its entirety.

“May the foreskin be with you,” by Alan Cumming

No man will deny that it feels pretty great to have someone gasp at your penis.

Well, that’s what happened to me when I first moved to America and started to show people the contents of my underpants. But their gasping was not due to my gargantuan girth (though no complaints so far, thank you very much!) but more to the fact that I, unlike the vast majority of American males, have not been genitally mutilated…

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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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