Observe a Circumcision Before You Decide
by Mary G. Ray ©1997,  All Rights Reserved

"I was circumcised, but we chose to leave our son intact. A big part of my decision was education. We knew that circumcision was not for us after watching a video of an actual circumcision. I could never allow that to happen to my son, especially in the first days of entering the world. I believe that any parent that is considering circumcision should be required to watch one first. If, after doing that, they choose to have him circumcised, then the parent should be with him at the time." Scott Pierson, U.S. Marine Corps

          The idea of observing a circumcision is not acceptable to many parents.  Meanwhile, the baby has no other choice but to endure a process his own parents can't stand to watch.  Parents are instinctively protective, but in this instance, they typically put blinders on.  If a parent is considering circumcision, their first job as guardian should be knowing what lays ahead for their baby. While a see-no-evil, hear-no-evil approach very effectively prevents the parent from becoming uncomfortable, the baby will likely face extreme discomfort. Circumcision can be very traumatic and can result in long term serious harm.   Many parents are under the impression that the the procedure is pain free due to the administration of anesthesia.  However, anesthesia has risks and it's been found that it isn't always effective in eliminating pain.  Not only that, but the injection itself is usually painful and can cause the penis to swell.  Circumcision is Painful

          Most new parents have trouble tolerating their baby suffering even the slightest discomfort. Instinctively, they instantly do whatever they can to relieve him. When a baby gets immunized, the mother is the one that holds and reassures him. To leave him would be the furthest thing from her mind.  There is no comparison between a shot and a circumcision procedure, and yet these newborn baby boys are left totally on their own.

          If a parent who chooses circumcision can't handle being with him during the procedure, they should trade places.  Imagine how he will feel during this extremely difficult time. He is not put to sleep. He is awake, aware and completely alone. How can he be comforted by a stranger?  He knows a single person in this world. Shouldn’t she be with him as usual especially now?

          Many childbirth preparation classes show a circumcision video as part of the curriculum. If your class doesn't or you are not attending one, refer to the list of videos below.

Read the accounts of:
Mothers Who Observed Circumcision

Movie, Photos & Description of Plastibell Method
Gomco Technique
60-second clip from  the video "Whose Body? Whose Rights?"
shows what happens at the beginning (and then the very end) of EVERY hospital circumcision.

Circumcision Methods

List of Videos

Deeper Into Foreskins (Nine Intact Men Show You Theirs)
"John Iozza's demonstration on his own penis of what is lost by circumcision is the most persuasive argument against circumcision I've ever encountered."

Circumcision? Intact Facts (1998)

Especially designed for childbirth education and parenting classes, this short but fascinating video (derived from the hour-long program Whose Body, Whose Rights?) espouses the views of those who feel circumcision is genital mutilation and a choice best left to the individual boy when he's grown.

This comprehensive video is for those who want to present the arguments against circumcision.  Actual circumcision surgery is shown.  Viewers will learn about history and medical ethics, changing religious attitudes, legal issues, foreskin functions, and consequences of circumcision.

18 min./VHS  Order #AP408   $44.95
Order from:  InJoy Videos    Tel: 800-326-2082     Fax: 303-449-8788      E-mail: InJoyVideo@aol.com

Whose Body, Whose Rights?
Award Winning Documentary, 1995 Dillonwood Productions, Available for home use through VideoFinders at (800) 343-4727 for $24.95.  For institutional use, call  (510) 642-0460, For World Wide Web ordering and preview: www.cirp.org/CIRP/pages/reviews/whosebody/

The Nurses of St. Vincent: Saying "No" to Circumcision
Profiles six of the conscientious objector nurses who refused to assist in neonatal circumcision at St. Vincent Hospital, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
$25 plus $4 S/H, Fireball Films, Ltd., 874 Broadway, #1005, New York, NY  10003

It's A Boy!, a film by Victor Schonfeld
Available at Filmakers Library:  "Many Jews accept without question the ritual circumcision of their sons. In this disturbing and powerful film, made by a Jewish journalist, director and concerned parent, the realities of the procedure and its possible after effects are revealed.  The core of the film is the story of one eight-day old boy and his circumcision which goes horribly wrong. This is clearly an issue that Jews cannot ignore."  See also:  Circumcision for Religious Reasons
•"It should be seen by everyone." Jewish Chronicle
•"Controversial and powerful film..." Sunday Times  

Facing Circumcision: Eight Physicians Tell Their Stories
and reveal the ethical dilemmas of physicians who circumcise newborns (1998)
For every parent considering circumcision of their newborn, every physician who circumcises and every medical student.

Seven family practice physicians and one emergency room physician in Santa Fe, New Mexico struggle with their consciences as they examine the ethical and human rights issues of infant circumcision. Three of the physicians tell why they stopped circumcising. The rest tell why they continue to circumcise or to advocate circumcision and discuss what considerations might lead them to change their minds.

20 min. NTSC (U.S.) VHS format only.   $20 plus $5 postage/handling. Outside U.S. add $3.
Order from:  Nurses for the Rights of the Child    369 Montezuma, #354     Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
Tel: 505-989-7377     E-mail: wholebaby@nets.com        http://www.cirp.org/nrc/     

A Matter of Choice
Orion Express, 39 Marie Street, Sausalito, CA  94965

Newborn Circumcision
Foresight Productions, 1302 Oakland Avenue, Durham, NC  27705

The Circumcision Question
Perennial Education, Inc., 930 Pitner, Evanston, IL  60202

Written 7/8/98
Last Modification:  6/6/99