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News Release  

  Contact: Ronald Goldman Ph.D.

FOR RELEASE: August 5, 1998

The Fifth International Symposium on Sexual Mutilations, addressing the medical, ethical, and legal aspects of circumcision, convenes at the University of Oxford from 5-7 August. Sponsored by the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC-USA) and the National Organization for Restoring Men* (NORM-UK), the symposium indicates the mounting pressure being put on those who cut the normal genitals of male and female children. Female genital mutilation is now outlawed in the U.S.

Marilyn Milos, a registered nurse and Executive Director of NOCIRC, sees infant circum- cision as a human rights issue. "Routine circumcision has no medical justification," says Milos. Children have a natural right to their sex organs."

George Denniston, a Seattle family physician and founder of Doctors Opposing Circumcision, is one of 45 international speakers scheduled to address the symposium. "Circumcision violates all seven principles of the AMA Code of Ethics," says Denniston. "Since it doesn't repair wounds or remove diseased tissue, routine circumcision cannot be classified as surgery. Physicians who continue to perform routine circumcision are not only harming infants but are also harming the integrity of the medical profession."

Dr. Margaret Somerville, Canadian professor of law and an internationally recognized expert in medical ethics and recipient of the syposium's Human Rights Award, says that infant male circumcision is "clearly a serious wounding - some kids die from this - and the person undergoing the surgery hasn't given any consent himself."

Another law professor, Dr. Neville Turner of Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, has warned doctors and nurses who perform routine infant circumcision could be civilly and criminally liable. "The procedure is unnecessary, painful, dangerous, and barbarous," he says.

A 1996 study showed that the removal of the foreskin takes away an important component of the overall sensory mechanism of the penis. Dr. Peter Ball, a general practitioner in England and a participant in the symposium says "the circumcised penis requires a lot more stimula- tion. The foreskin contains a lot of sensory fibers that contribute to the impact of the climax - and it is more comfortable for women."

Another medical study found that, even when an anesthetic is used, circumcision is traumatic enough to cause lasting harm to the nervous system, and that the altered behavior changes is consistent with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. "Circumcision can negatively affect the feelings, attitudes, and behaviors of males without their awareness," says psychologist Ronald Goldman, author of Circumcision: The Hidden Trauma and Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective, and Executive Director of the Circumcision Resource Center in Boston.

The popularity of "medical" circumcision has steadily declined to 60% in the U.S. An exposé on the subject in the August issue of Men's Health will help to educate parents.


*Organization of men seeking information and support for foreskin restoration.

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