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Wednesday, December 28, 2005



Armenian Reporter, The



04-24-2004



A significant number of Armenians living in America are adopting the

practice of circumcision - a procedure that historically has not been a

custom among Christian Armenians. The following is an article based on the

review and analyses of books, research papers, articles, as well as

personal interviews with physicians, literary figures, human rights

activists, and members of the Armenian and Jewish communities. I also

collected data from day care centers and practicing Armenian pediatricians,

which revealed a 30-40% circumcision rate among Armenian children. (The

national incidence with U.S. males is 60%.).



The practice of circumcision among Armenians serves no religious purpose

and is mainly performed for "hygienic" reasons. Some parents have been

victims of negligent doctors who circumcised children at the hospitals

without the parents' informed consent. Others have been solicited by

hospital staff, and have fallen prey to the institution that promotes the

procedure for financial reasons.



Still other people in our community seem to want to assimilate to the

dominant American culture by "embracing its custom of circumcision. While

routine circumcision of male infants has been a much-debated issue in the

US. for many years, it is now being questioned in an unprecedented way.

Nonetheless, it remains an especially uncomfortable topic of discussion

among most Armenians: The subject of circumcision, however, is a rather

complex multidimensional social issue that ought to be discussed from the

perspective of history, culture, religion, and medicine. It is also a

sexual and human rights issue. In short, it requires the attention of

medical professionals, lawyers, educators, ethics scholars, and religious

leaders. Their collective knowledge and expertise would contribute a sound

foundation upon which we can begin raising awareness regarding this

controversial cultural introjection that has been neglected for far too

long.



ORIGINS OF CIRCUMCISION



Despite the common belief that circumcision was invented by Jews, it is

known from history that it originated in different areas of Africa and

dates back at least 5,000 years, appearing in Egyptian representations of

Pharaonic times. Thus, both Jews and Arabs learned circumcision in Egypt.



An array of explanations for the motives behind the practice has been

offered by historians, anthropologists, and other scholars. As described in

Circumcision of Male Infants Research Paper (Queensland Law Reform

Commission. Brisbane, 1993), the roots and motives of circumcision are

barbaric and cruel. In fact, circumcision is believed to have been applied

as a castigatory measure, and as a mark of slavery. Some anthropologists

also speculate that circumcision is attenuation of human sacrifice,

relating it to the practice of cutting off the entire penis, which was

offered as a sacrifice to the gods, or were used as war trophies. Some

warriors offered the genitalia of their enemies as trophies to the girls

they chose to marry.



Other interpretations of the motives of the practice have been: rites of

passage, tribal integration; gender identity; desensitization of the sexual

organ to moderate sexual activity, and thus, to perfect morality; cultural

assimilation, as well as hygienic and medical reasons. I will narrow down

my discussion on the sexual aspect of the procedure, assimilation and

acculturation issues, as well as the claimed "hygienic" and "medical"

reasons.



Moses Maimonides, the famed 12th-century Jewish rabbi, physician and

philosopher, wrote in his book The Guide of the Perplexed (University of

Chicago, 1963) Part III, Chapter 49, Page 609:



"... with regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my

opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a

weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and

the organ be in as quiet a state as possible. ... this commandment has not

been prescribed with a view to perfecting what is defective congenitally,

but to perfecting what is defective morally. The bodily pain caused to that

member is the real purpose of circumcision...The Sages, may their memory be

blessed, have explicitly stated: It is hard for a woman with whom an

uncircumcised man has had sexual intercourse to separate from him. In my

opinion this is the strongest of the reasons for circumcision."



MASTURBATION HYSTERIA IN THE VICTORIAN ERA



The non-religious practice of circumcision was introduced into secular

society and medically popularized in the U.S. and Britain over a century

ago in a period of time often retrospectively referred to as "the

masturbation hysteria." During my interview with Mark D. Reiss, MD, Vice

President of Doctors, Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.), he discussed the

origins of circumcision practice in the Victorian era, when it was falsely

thought that masturbation caused insanity, epilepsy, paralysis, bed

wetting, blindness, asthma, rheumatism, curvature of the spine, alcoholism

and criminality. By circumcising, Victorian doctors hoped to eliminate

these dreaded diseases and conditions. However, it is now known that

circumcision does not prevent masturbation, or the above-mentioned

conditions, but rather only serves to make sexual functioning more

difficult.



MODERN PRACTICE OF CIRCUMCISION



In the early 20th century, circumcision was claimed to be more "hygienic"

and became a routine procedure in the U.S. and continued to increase after

the mass military circumcisions during WW I, and WW II, and the Vietnam

War. During this period, the incidence of circumcision was dramatically

increased and reached its peak in 1979, when 85-90% of American boys were

circumcised. Circumcision is far less common among other industrialized

countries, as well as in the non-Islamic regions of Asia (around 10-15%;

Circumcision Reference Library, 2003). The U.S. is the only country in the

world that routinely circumcises most of its male infants for nonreligious

reasons. Proponents of the procedure cite potential health benefits, such

as lowered risk of urinary tract infections (UTI), penile and cervical

cancer, human papilloma virus (HPV), as well as reduction of sexually

transmitted diseases (STDs).



Conversely, anti-circumcision activists oppose the removal of any healthy,

functional part of a human body as a means of disease control. Moreover,

the American Academy of Pediatrics states (1999) that "... these data are

not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision" and "...there is

no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision." Likewise, the

American Medical Association (Complete Medical Encyclopedia, 2003) states:

"There is no medical reason for routine circumcision of infants."



In fact, no medical organization in the world recommends routine

circumcision of infant boys. Many have specific statements arguing against

circumcision, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the British

Medical Association, as well as the medical associations of other European

countries, Canada, and Australia.



In the face of the absence of medical indication, circumcision practice

continues, and those who promote it certainly gain financially. The

American Academy of Pediatrics states that each year, "1.2 million newborn

males are circumcised in the United States annually at a cost of between

$150 and $270 million." That estimate does not include hospital and nursing

fees, medical supplies, and expenses that arise as the result of

complications. The primary beneficiary of circumcision, thus, is not the

child, not the parent, but the medical community, which is involved in a

lucrative multimillion-dollar business.



CIRCUMCISION AND HIV



The latest renewed attention toward the correlation between HIV/AIDS

epidemic and circumcision status comes at a time when claims for medical

benefits have been losing stance for decades. Studies claim that HIV

infection rates are much lower in some West African nations, where

circumcision is common, than in some South and East African nations, where

circumcision is rare. However, since most of the circumcised men in the

study are Muslim, it is unclear whether circumcision status or variables

like sexual behavioral patterns typical of Islam play a role in the

protective effects.



Secondly, the U.S. has one of the highest circumcision rates among the

industrialized nations and also the highest HIV rate. Obviously,

circumcision did not protect Americans from HIV infection. On the other

hand, circumcision rates are low in Europe, as are HIV infection rates.



The American Medical Association (Report on Neonatal Circumcision, online)

has stated, "Regardless of these findings, behavioral factors are far more

important risk factors for acquisition of HIV and other sexually

transmittable diseases than circumcision status, and circumcision cannot be

responsibly viewed as 'protecting' against such infections."



Marilyn Milos, the co-founder and director of National Organization of

Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC), wrote to me in her

email letter, "The scare tactics are always consistent with the dreaded

disease of the times." "There was a penile cancer scare in the '30s; a

cervical cancer scare in the '50s; and the sexually transmitted disease

scare of the '60s."



WHERE IS MY FORESKIN?



Does the foreskin have any function at all, or has evolution failed? Didn't

evolution determine that the male mammals' genitals be an internal and not

an external organ, sheathed in a protective foreskin? Is a foreskin just a

"dead piece of skin?" "Is it nature's defect?"



In his article "The Case against Circumcision" (Mothering Magazine, Winter

1997), Dr. Paul Fleiss writes that most American textbooks do not even

mention the foreskin and illustrate the human penis circumcised, as if that

is its natural state. "Millions of years of evolution have fashioned the

human body into a model of refinement, elegance, and efficiency, with every

part having a purpose," writes Dr. Fleiss. Furthermore, he explains that

the foreskin is an essential part of human sexual anatomy, containing

greater concentration of blood vessels and nerve endings than any part of

penis. The foreskin, he explains, is a uniquely specialized, sensitive, and

functional erogenous organ of touch. The foreskin removed by circumcision

represents about 80% (depending on the circumcising doctor) of the penile

skin. Dr. Fleiss concludes that circumcision denudes, desensitizes, and

disables the penis. It also destroys nature's design of the double-layered

sheath that facilitates the "gliding mechanism" during intercourse.



Garry Harryman, the coordinator for the Southern California chapter of the

National Association of Restoring Men, writes in his article titled "What

is Lost to Circumcision": "Contrary to pseudo-medical myth, the natural

penis with its foreskin intact is not defective or dangerous and does not

require urgent surgical correction. Through four thousand millennia of

trial and error, Nature has perfected human sexuality as a physical

collaboration between two exquisitely complementary designs. The vagina was

not designed to accommodate a dry, keratinized, and immobile penis."



He calls circumcision a "mutilating radical sexual surgery euphemistically

called 'male circumcision.'"



"[Infant] circumcision requires that the surgeon tear the skin from the

sensitive glans to permit removal." Dr. George Denniston, President of

Doctors Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.), explains in his interview, "As a

result, scarring occurs, the surface of the glans thickens, and

keratinization occurs." Dr. Denniston's advice is to leave the foreskin to

fulfill its several functions. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics

pamphlet on "Care of the Uncircumcised Penis; Guidelines for Parents,"

follows:



"Care of the uncircumcised boy is quite easy. "Leave it alone" is good

advice.



External washing and rinsing on a daily basis is all that is required. Do

not retract the foreskin in an infant, as it is almost always attached to

the glans. Forcing the foreskin back may harm the penis, causing pain,

bleeding, and possibly adhesions. The natural separation of the foreskin

from the glans may take many years."



Many parents, whom I talked to explain their choice of circumcision with

claims of "cleanliness." However, what makes us humans think that part of

our body is not clean, and needs further modification? In the

above-mentioned article, Dr. Fleiss writes:



"The white emollient under the child's skin is called smegma. Smegma is

probably the most misunderstood, most unjustifiably maligned substance in

nature. Smegma is clean, not dirty, and is beneficial and necessary. It

moisturizes the glans and keeps it smooth, soft, and supple. Its

antibacterial and antiviral properties keep the penis clean and healthy.

Forcibly retracting and washing a baby's foreskin destroys the beneficial

bacterial flora that protect the penis from harmful germs and can lead to

irritation and infection. The child's foreskin, like his eyelids, is

self-cleansing.



In fact, according to Dr. Denniston, the foreskin is there to protect the

glans from the exposure of feces and urine in the infancy. With

circumcision this protection is gone.



"Penile hygiene will later become a part of a child's total body hygiene,"

the American Academy of Pediatrics states, "including hair shampooing,

cleansing the folds of the ear, and brushing teeth. At puberty, the male

should be taught the importance of retracting the foreskin and cleaning

beneath during his daily bath."



COMPLICATIONS



As with all kinds of surgery, circumcision has some risks. Here are some of

the complications of circumcision from the report of the American Medical

Association, (1999).



"Bleeding and infection, occasionally leading to sepsis, are the most

common adverse events requiring treatment" reads the report. "Other

untoward events can result from taking too much skin from the penile shaft

causing denudation or rarely, concealed penis. Other postoperative

complications include formation of skin bridges between the penile shaft

and glans, meatitis and meatal stenosis, chordee, inclusion cysts in the

circumcision line, lymphedema, hypospadias and epispadias, and urinary

retention. Case reports have associated circumcision with other rare but

severe events including scalded skin, necrotizing fasciitis, sepsis and

meningitis, urethrocutaneous fistulas, necrosis (secondary to

cauterization), and partial amputation of the glans penis."



There is no data as to how many deaths a year occur as the result of

circumcision. "Circumcision kills an unknown number of U.S. infants every

year," writes Gary Harryman. "The cause of these deaths," he continues, "is

a fact the billion-dollar-per-year circumcision industry willfully obscures

and conceals...Every year boys lose their penises altogether from 'botched

circumcisions.' They are then 'sexually reassigned' by transgender surgery

and must live their lives as females." Obviously, any potential benefits of

circumcision are far outweighed by its risks and drawbacks.



Dr. Vigen Zargarian, an Iranian-Armenian pediatrician in practice for 27

years, has dealt with the circumcision issue throughout his long experience

in pediatrics. "I have seen many circumcision procedures performed both in

Iran and the U.S.," explains Dr. Zargarian in his interview. "I have seen a

child die in 24 hours from gangrene and sepsis caused by necrotizing

fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria), right in front of my eyes."



BEHIND CLOSED DOORS



Most parents are ill informed about the short-term and long-term effects of

circumcision on the child. Dr. Zargarian explained how the typical

circumcision procedure is carried out in American hospitals. "As usually

performed without analgesia, circumcision is very painful," says Dr.

Zargarian. "In fact, children feel excruciating pain, and local anesthetics

are not effective enough," he explains. "This procedure is agonizing; the

powerless child is taken away from his parents, stripped naked, and put on

a 'circumstraint' board. His arms and legs are fastened tightly with

straps. The whole scene looks like a crucifixion." In fact, research shows

that, during circumcision, the infant "withdraws into a state of neurogenic

shock (coma), due to sudden massive pain," which in fact is misinterpreted

as being "quiet" or "falling asleep." (Dr. George Denniston, Circumcision

Quiz, online).



"Parents should know what lies ahead for their tiny infant," insists Dr.

Zargarian, "and the best way to educate them about this procedure is to

have them watch a video." (The two films that are highly recommended are:

"It's a Boy!" and Whose Body, Whose Rights) However, the idea of observing

a circumcision is not acceptable to many parents. Meanwhile, the baby has

to undergo a procedure his own parents cannot stand to watch. "If parents

have a chance to ever observe the procedure," Dr. Zargarian adds, "I am

almost certain that they will not let their child go through it."

Circumcision Resource Center (Mothers who Observed Circumcision) reports

the numerous testimonies of mothers who have observed circumcision. One

mother writes:



"The screams of my baby remain embedded in my bones and haunt my mind."



She added later, "His cry sounded like he was being butchered. I lost my

milk."



Here is how a mother felt after circumcision of her son:



"It was as close to hell as I ever want to get!"



Another mother shares her deep feelings of regret:



"My tiny son and I sobbed our hearts out...After everything I'd worked for,

carrying and nurturing Joseph in the womb, having him at home against no

small odds, keeping him by my side constantly since birth, nursing him

whenever he needed closeness and nourishment - the circumcision was a

horrible violation of all I felt we shared. I cried for days afterward."



A mother noted that she still felt pain recalling the experience about a

year later. She wrote to her son:



"I have never heard such screams...Will I ever know what scars this brings

to your soul? ... What is that new look I see in your eyes? I can see pain,

a certain sadness, and a loss of trust."



A DIFFERENT KIND OF PENIS ENVY



Very often, parents explain their choice of circumcision by appealing to

the concern that their intact sons would be ridiculed by their circumcised

peers in the locker rooms. It is most ironic that, instead of educating our

children about the importance of our unique cultural and individual

identity, we, ourselves, as parents, fall prey to the peer pressure.



Another common factor for the choice of circumcision is the father's

circumcision status. Parents argue that they do not want their child to

feel "different" from his father. This "like-father, like-son" syndrome is

widely applied by all groups in the U.S., including Armenians, and it is

even viewed as family tradition. At other times, it is the older sibling

who has been circumcised, so the younger brother is circumcised, too.

However, is there any necessity that all the males in the household have

similar penises? After all, as some human rights activists say, boys do not

undergo when they are a day old to make their noses look

like those of their fathers. In fact, the National Organization of

Restoring Men offers an opportunity to circumcised fathers to look like

their intact sons. These are non-surgical stretching techniques for

foreskin restoration, which can be partially effective in restoring the

lost sensitivity of the glans by rejuvenation of the keratinized skin.



BAPTIZED AND CIRCUMCISED? CIRCUMCISION ISSUE IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN

ARMENIANS



For centuries, circumcision has been a crucial issue in the lives of

Armenians. Leaving their children intact was a significant aspect of ethnic

identity and religious association among Christian Armenians. Living under

Islamic domination, the preservation of this identity was continuously at

stake. It is known from history that the Turkish government led systematic

and coercive policies to convert Armenians to Islam. In his book, Turkish

Documentary Sources about Armenians, the historian Avetis Papasian writes

that, after 1464, Armenian boys were forcefully taken away from their

families by the Turkish government. This plan of ethnic cleansing was a

real menace for Armenians living in historic Western Armenia. Every two to

five years, representatives of the Turkish government would gather

physically fit and healthy boys between eight and twenty years of age. Then

they would be transported to Istanbul where Armenian boys were made to

ceremonially take an oath to convert to Islam. These children then were

ritually circumcised and given new Turkish names.



Eventually, these Armenian males would receive military training and were

brought up as fanatic followers of Islam.



The 17th-century historian Arakel Davrizhetsi [of Tabriz] writes in his

History about the heroic deaths of Christian Armenian youth who resisted

conversion to Islam, which was always accompanied with circumcision, and

chose death instead. These youth were venerated as saints among Armenians

of those times.



During my interview with Stepan Topchian, an Armenian author and literary

figure, he voiced his concern about this new cultural phenomenon.

Circumcision status, Dr. Topchian explained, was one of the distinctive

features of our ethnic and religious identity. He stated that it took a lot

for our forefathers to resist any attempts of forceful assimilation. Today,

they would be amazed at how easily we abandon an important tradition

central to our national identity. He calls for Armenians to be more prudent

and responsible in preserving this heritage that has come all this way,

only to be jeopardized for no valid reason.



It is rather disturbing to witness that a few decades of American reality

proved more potent than centuries of threat of coercive assimilation. In

one of his email letters to me, Gary Harryman wrote, "Of all the horrors

that have been visited upon Armenians in the last century, I hope

circumcision was/is not one of them."



From the perspective of our Christian heritage, it is essential to

acknowledge that there is an inherent fundamental conflict in baptizing

and, at the same time, circumcising our sons. Let us remember what Paul

said to his followers:



"In him [Christ] you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the

sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with

the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and

raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from

the dead..." (Col 2:8 & 11-13.)



"Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be

circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you, at all. Again I declare to

every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the

whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated

from Christ; you have fallen away from grace..." (Gal... 5 v. 2-6)



As part of my efforts to raise awareness about our Christian heritage, I

call for our religious leaders of the American-Armenian community to come

forward and bring their authoritative involvement in this most urgent

issue.



JEWS AGAINST CIRCUMCISION



"We are educated and enlightened Jews who realize that the barbaric,

primitive, torturous, and mutilating practice of circumcision has no place

in modern Judaism," reads the homepage site of the organization Jews

Against Circumcision (JAC). Since ancient times, Jews suffered the grim

consequences of circumcision, which claimed the lives of their infant sons.

In fact, Jewish law allowed the families to forgo circumcision of the third

son, if the family had already lost two previous children as a result of

circumcision.



More and more Jewish people are rejecting the controversial ceremony and

are not afraid to question tradition that is in conflict with common sense,

and basic human rights. "I mourned my own circumcision," Dr. Reiss told me

in a most candid interview. Of Jewish heritage, Dr. Reiss never questioned

this tradition until later in life, when he discovered that "any potential

benefits of circumcision are far outweighed by its risks and drawbacks."

"Jewish people are now leaving their sons intact, as they view circumcision

as a part of Jewish law that they can no longer accept," he explains. In

fact, according to Dr. Reiss, there are proportionately more Jews fighting

against circumcision (as compared to their population size in the U.S.)

than non-Jews. He holds that it is not the Jewish but the American culture

and its medical institutions that are promoting the circumcision industry

in the U.S. He states that, among Jews in Europe, South America, and even

in Israel, circumcision is not universal (only 40% of newborn Jewish boys

in Sweden are being circumcised).



HUMAN RIGHTS: THE ULTIMATE ISSUE



The various cultures of the world have practiced religious and secular

rituals that infringed on the bodily autonomy of the individual, including

female circumcision, infibulations (stitching together the labia to prevent

intercourse before marriage), sterilizations, human sacrifice, feet

binding, body piercing, cutting off the fingers as a sign of mourning, and

other mutilations. As average Westerners, we watch National Geographic

films about male and female circumcision rites in Africa and, with our

typical ethnocentrism, label them as "primitive," "unclean," and "brutal."

We assume that what happens in American hospitals is "scientific,"

"sterile," and "humane."



Nonetheless, human rights activists argue that, regardless of the place and

style of the procedure, both male and female circumcisions are genital

mutilations and violations of the child's right to an intact body. "No

one," says Dr. Denniston in his interview, "and especially not a doctor has

the right to remove normal body parts from another individual (mutilation

by definition). Nor do they have the right to torture that individual."



Some parents resent the procedure because it involves genital manipulation

by the circumciser, which they think strips their sons of their innocence.

As Marilyn Milos put it in her interview, "Circumcision is where sex and

violence meet for the first time, and it imprints the connection between

the brain and the penis with pain instead of the pleasure that organ is

meant to feel." Unfortunately, the proponents of circumcision either avoid

or trivialize discussions of such important aspects as psychosexual trauma

associated with routine neonatal circumcision, the degree of pain, and

human rights issue.



The research paper on "Male Circumcision: Pain, Trauma and Psychosexual

Sequelae" (Journal of Health Psychology, May 2002, Boyle, G., Goldman, R.,

Svoboda, S., Fernandez, E.) views circumcision as a procedure that

"involves an imbalance of power between perpetrator and victim, contains

both aggressive and libidinal elements, and threatens a child's sexual

integrity by amputating part of the genitalia." Involuntary neonatal

circumcision is described as an experience of "violence and powerlessness -

inflicted by other human beings."



Many adult men who recognize the importance of the irreplaceable part of

their body that has been removed without their knowledge or consent tend to

manifest feelings of resentment and emotional suffering. As cited by

authors, "avoidance of the topic of circumcision, or obsessive

preoccupation with such a loss" is typical of the circumcised individual.

The article also discusses the so-called "I'm circumcised and I'm fine"

syndrome, which is a common attitude of the circumcised father, "who

unreasonably insists on the circumcision of a son in the face of contrary

evidence."



Dr. Paul Fleiss discusses the psychological mind-set of the circumcised

father and explains how to best overcome these feelings.



"A circumcised father who has mixed feelings about his intact newborn son

may require gentle, compassionate psychological counseling to help him come

to terms with his loss and to overcome his anxieties about normal male

genitalia. In such cases, the mother should steadfastly protect her child,

inviting her husband to share this protective role and helping him diffuse

his negative feelings. Most parents want what is best for their baby. Wise

parents listen to their hearts and trust their instinct to protect their

baby from harm. The experience of the ages has shown that babies thrive

best in a trusting atmosphere of love, gentleness, respect, acceptance,

nurturing, and intimacy. Cutting off a baby's foreskin shatters this

trust."



LEGAL REMEDIES



Today, lawyers and human rights activists raise the issue of limiting the

parental right of consent for this procedure. The American Academy of

Pediatrics clearly states that there is "no absolute medical indication for

routine circumcision." By this reasoning, parental consent for this

surgical operation, which is neither diagnostic nor treating a disease, is

not legitimate. "Circumcision can always be performed in adulthood with

fully informed consent for those individuals who desire it," says Dr.

Zargarian. "I always tell parents, let the child grow up and decide for

himself. Do not assume that he would want to be circumcised and remove a

healthy, functional, and most importantly, a private body part."



Furthermore, the Code of Medical Ethics prohibits a physician from advising

unnecessary medical or surgical treatment. Thus, the practice of

circumcision is de facto in conflict with medical ethics. As Dr. George

Denniston pointed out in his email letter, "Armenians are one of many

minority groups who never before dreamed of removing half the skin from

their son's normal penis, who have been betrayed by the American medical

profession."



David Llewellyn, who is the Director of the Atlanta Circumcision

Information Center as well as a practicing attorney, calls for parents,

whose children have been victims of wrongful circumcision, to enforce legal

rights on behalf of their child. He holds that lawsuit is the only potent

way to stop physicians and institutions from misinforming or soliciting

this unnecessary procedure. (Legal Remedies for Penile Torts, The Compleat

Mother, 1995).



Little do the doctors know that today's helpless infants that they are now

circumcising may grow up to become potential plaintiffs of tomorrow. As the

number of lawsuits arising from circumcision is growing, so is the number

of the states who have ended Medicaid funding of routine neonatal

circumcision. Arizona, Missouri, North Carolina, Montana, Utah, Florida,

and Maine have joined California, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota,

Oregon, and Washington in not funding neonatal routine circumcision.



The history of circumcision reveals a chronicle wherein the motives of the

practice have been continuously changing, consistent with the times and the

beliefs of people practicing it. From assign of slavery to a mark of social

prestige, to its "medical" popularity, circumcision has been and remains

one of the most controversial procedures. As members of a society that

places high value on the rights of its citizens, we should question

circumcision regardless of our religious and cultural backgrounds.



Today's society should ultimately be guided by sound science, common sense

and respect for basic human rights. The myths surrounding circumcision are

inconsistent with our values and beliefs. Circumcision is not "clean," it

is not "fashionable" or "prestigious," nor is it medically necessary. If

you believe in evolution, it contradicts evolution. If you believe in God,

than cutting off a part from God's creation is a disbelief. Circumcision

does not belong to Christians, it does not belong to Armenians. It is not

humane, and it is not what our children are asking for. Ultimately,

circumcision is against any parental instinct.



"Circumcision is irreversible," concludes Dr. Zargarian. "I call for

parents to be more considerate and responsible in their decisions!"



Article copyright The Armenian Reporter International.