Intactivism News
October - December 2004

To more recent news

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Dustin Hoffman ambivalent about circumcision
December 23, 2004


DUSTIN HOFFMAN's grandson AUGUSTUS is at the centre of a ratings debate - the newborn's parents are at odds over whether or not they should circumcise him.

Hoffman's daughter JENNA and her husband SEAMUS welcomed their son into the world just three weeks ago, and he's already the subject of an ongoing debate which is even starting to involve other actors.

The screen star says, "I don't wanna invade the privacy of my half-Jewish daughter and her Irish husband, but there is a controversy between them in terms of circumcision.

"Sometimes they say someone shouldn't be circumcised because it's more natural and they should be circumcised because of hygiene. But the argument against that is if you wanna clean under your nails you don't cut your nails off!

"I was talking to [former Seinfeld co-author] LARRY DAVID about this, because one of the things in favour of not circumcising is that the foreskin covers the sensitivity of the nerve endings... I said it might make it less sensitive. Larry David, who is circumcised, says, 'Less sensitive? If it was any more sensitive I'd have a heart attack!'"

This claim is often made. Unsurprisingly, intact men do not have heart attacks every time they have sex.


Netherlands government stops paying to cut baby boys
December 17, 2004

Unkind cut: Dutch medicare halts coverage for male circumcision
[The "unkind cut" is the circumcisions, not the cut to payments.]
Canadian Press


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - The Dutch national health insurance will no longer pay for male circumcision, the Heath Ministry said Friday.

The ministry decided to halt compensation following reports that up to 90 per cent of circumcisions are carried out for religious, rather than health reasons, as specified in Dutch law, ministry spokesman Bas Kuik said.

Muslims and Jews routinely circumcise boys at birth. Around 8.5 per cent of children born in the Netherlands are circumcised, or about 17,000 a year. The average cost at birth, when there are no complications, is around $650 Cdn.

Female circumcision - sometimes called genital mutilation - is outlawed in the Netherlands, and the government plans a law making it possible to prosecute parents who travel to foreign countries to have their daughters circumcised.

Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner said in October the government has no plans to outlaw male circumcision, which is classified as a cosmetic surgery if not medically necessary. [What other "cosmetic surgery" is done to healthy normal newborns regardless of their possible future wishes?]

© The Canadian Press 2004


Mohel penalised for more-than-usually botched circumcision

HAARETZ, Tel Aviv, Tuesday, 14 December 2004.

Last Update: 14/12/2004 20:08

Rabbi ordered to pay NIS 1.18 million for botched circumcision

By Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondent

The Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court on Tuesday ordered the former rabbi of the Gan Yavneh local council to pay a child and his parents NIS 1.18 million [US$272,000, 205,570] in damages after the child was left severely disfigured when he was circumcised by the rabbi.

The rabbi, Mehumar Tzubari, performed the religious ceremony on the child in April 1995. A few hours after the ceremony, the mother realized that the tip of the child's penis was blacked and called the rabbi. He checked the area, applied iodine ointment and told the mother not to worry and that "everything will be fine."

After several days in the hospital, doctors diagnosed gangrene in the penis tip. The penis tip was lost, the penis became trapped within the skin enveloping it. Two years later, the infant underwent surgery at Schneider Children's Hospital to release the penis, replace the missing skin and give the penis a healthier appearance. The operation failed.

In August 2000, the infant was operated on in the United States by Dr. Gerald Jordan, a world renowned expert on reconstructive surgery. According to the child's parents, the operation failed to restore the penis to normal since the reconstructed tip does not enable an erection to be maintained during intercourse.

The parents filed suit against the rabbi, the Gan Yavneh religious council, the Gan Yavneh local council and the Religious Affairs Ministry. The deputy president of the Rishon Letzion Magistrate's Court, Judge Dalia Gannot, rejected the suits against the public bodies, but found in favor of the suit against the rabbi.

During the trial, it emerged that Tzubari was not qualified to work as a mohel (the religious official who carries out a circumcision).

The judge ordered Tzubari to pay NIS 850,000 of the NIS 1.18 million in damages for the family's past and future suffering, and to compensate the parents for the cost of psychiatric treatment for their son.

JTA ("Global News Service of the Jewish People")
Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Mutilating mohel sued

An Israeli boy who suffered a botched circumcision was awarded $400,000. Rishon Lezion Magistrate's Court found Tuesday that the mohel who operated on the boy, now nine years old and undergoing remedial surgery, was liable for damages caused to the boy's penis. The court rejected a request by the mohel for his employer, Gan Yavne Religious Council, to be equally liable in the lawsuit.


Father gets three years for more amateur circumcision than usual

Wednesday December 15, 2004

He got 36 months, not quite the maximum I believe. The case name is State v. Edwin Bruce Baxter, case # 04-1-01764-5. (Personal communication)

The Colombian
Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Father convicted in circumcision attempt

By STEPHANIE RICE, Columbian staff writer

A jury deliberated 40 minutes Tuesday before convicting a Ridgefield man of assault for attempting to circumcise his 8-year-old.

Edwin B. Baxter, 33, was polite after the verdict as he was handcuffed to be taken back to the Clark County Jail. He thanked his attorney and the prosecutor, who last week offered Baxter a plea deal that would've given the father of nine credit for the three months spent in custody and released him from jail. He declined.

Now, Baxter faces up to three years and five months in prison.

A truck driver and fundamentalist Christian who wears a long beard, Baxter dressed in flannel shirts and work boots during his two-day trial and had a Bible with him in court. He did not testify before the jury of seven men and five women.

He did, however, make a statement to Judge James Rulli for the purpose of preserving his right to appeal on the grounds Rulli did not allow him to use his faith as a defense.

Baxter said he decided to circumcise his 8-year-old, the eldest of his four boys, on Sept. 3 after he read in the Old Testament that males should undergo the procedure.

"I had no reason to think I would be in violation of any of God's laws," Baxter said.

"I felt it was an act of obedience."

He said he was only following in the footsteps of Abraham, Isaac and "every other godly man."

He had his son lay on towels in what was described by witnesses as a dirty bathtub. He used a hunting knife to attempt the procedure, but called 911 when his son began bleeding profusely.

"It breaks my heart to think that this state would think of me as a child abuser," Baxter said.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kim Farr asked whether the circumcision would have been equally symbolic if it had been performed by a doctor in a sterile environment.

"I have no reason to think otherwise," Baxter said.

Farr said after the trial that Baxter's son was not circumcised at birth because none of the Baxter children have been born in hospitals. He said the family used a van outside their Ridgefield home as a birthing place.

Baxter's 30-year-old wife, Tammy, is said to be pregnant with her 10th child.

She and the children have not been found by law enforcement or investigators from the state Department of Children and Family Services, who had been seeking them in connection with the trial.

After the verdict, Judge Rulli dismissed arrest warrants for Tammy Baxter and the victim.

A urologist who treated the victim said he has not seen the boy to know if his wound has healed.

Dr. Douglas Masson said he closed the boy's wound, rather than complete the circumcision, to let it heal and to minimize the chance of infection.

However, scar tissue could require that the boy be circumcised in the future, he said.

Stephanie Rice covers the courts. She can be reached at 360-759-8004 or


Law to ban dog-tail docking passes first hurdle, dockers explicitly compare it to circumcision

New Zealand Herald (Auckland)
October 21, 2004

Bill to prevent dog docking

21.10.2004 7.00 am

A bill to ban the docking of dogs' tails passed its first reading with a strong majority [79-37] in Parliament last night and has been sent to a select committee for public submissions.

The Animal Welfare (Restriction on Docking of Dogs' Tails) Bill was drafted by Labour MP Dianne Yates. It is not a Government bill.

It was introduced in August this year and debated for the first time last night.

Ms Yates said her bill was strongly supported by veterinarians and the SPCA.

It would have no effect on dog shows, because there were no penalties for dogs with tails.

Media Release from NZ Council of Docked Breeds
22 October, 2004

Dog Tail-Docking Bill an Exercise in Blatant Hypocrisy and Ignorance

If along with a Bill seeking to ban docking of dogs' tails, there were also a Bill seeking to ban all circumcision of male babies, the Jewish community would be up in arms at the prospect of a grievous infringement of their rights.

Well the New Zealand Council of Docked Breeds represents thousands of responsible dog-breeders in this country and we are outraged at the prospect of having our rights trampled upon by this legislation.

Our members are caring owners who love their dogs as children are loved and we know that if the correct procedures are followed, tail- docking is not cruel. That is why we support a freedom of choice position for dog-breeders on the issue of tail docking.

Blatant hypocrisy

The hypocrisy of a lobby that attempts to ban dog tail-docking while leaving lambs and baby boys all over the country at the mercy of farmers and doctors (respectively) is breathtaking. Clearly the belief exists that lamb docking and male circumcision is not cruel and does not warrant legislation to ban it; so why dogs?

Why is lamb docking not cruel? Why shouldn't we ban all circumcision except that carried out for medical reasons? [Hear! Hear!]

The fact is that arguments in support of docking lambs, circumcising Jewish baby boys and docking dogs' tails have much in common. The arguments include: hygiene and safety (for lambs who grow into sheep vulnerable to fly-strike and barbed wire-related tail injuries) and; decades and centuries of tradition and culture.

Cruelty is not a serious issue in any of these instances. And on dog tail-docking, the Council for Docked Breeds has expert veterinary opinion to support our position.

Of course dog-breeders embrace tradition; just as they embrace passionate care for the dogs they breed, raise and show. A tradition of breeds displaying certain characteristics is valid in this society. And that tradition is highly valued by a breeding community steeped in the culture and tradition of dog breeding and showing.

Dogs, like sheep, can be vulnerable to hygiene issues around their tails; long-haired breeds in particular. And dogs frequently suffer from tail injuries. We do not seek to force all breeders to dock tails, we simply believe it is the right of responsible breeders to choose.

We demand an end to the hypocrisy at the heart of Dianne Yates Bill.


Parents think intact penis needs a lot of cleaning

Abstracts of the AAP Conference, October 9-11, 2004 (registration required)




G.A. Turini III, S.E. Reinert, L.D. Tackett, A.A. Caldamone. Urology, Brown University, Hasbro Childrens Hospital, Providence, RI; Lifespan Information Services, Hasbro Childrens Hospital, Lifespan Corporation, Providence, RI

Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine factors effecting [sic] the decision process of the parents of newborn boys regarding circumcision.

Methods: Parents were approached in the inpatient units of a maternity hospital to complete a survey of demographic information, decision on circumcision, education, and contributing factors. Parents were excluded only if they had not decided at survey time whether or not their newborn would be circumcised.

Results: 364 surveys were conducted. Eighty-six percent (314) of parents elected circumcision. In order of importance, these factors were influential in their decision: 1. avoid cleaning and maintenance, 2. prevent UTIs, 3. father is circumcised, 4. circumcision will not physically harm the child, and 5. prevent STDs. Approximately 48% of parents surveyed had discussed circumcision in some detail with an obstetrician, while 32% reported doing so with a pediatrician. Eighty-four percent of parents received some education about circumcision, from either an OB/Pediatrician or another source. In order of importance, the sources were: 1. family, 2. Ob/Gyn, 3. pediatrician, 4. other. When asked if their doctors opinion about circumcision influenced their decision, 90% answered no. Using t-tests and chi-square analysis, a significant correlation was found between Christian mothers and fathers and the likelihood of influence by a doctors opinion. Neither religion, ethnicity, source of information, nor discussion with a specific practitioner yielded significant correlation with which factors were most important to parents decision.

Conclusion: The most important factors influencing the choice appear to stem from parents perception that increased effort is necessary to care for an uncircumcised penis, concern about UTI, and the fathers circumcision status. For those who decided against circumcision, cultural and traditional factors had sporadic roles, but the majority felt that it was an unnecessary procedure. While most parents view doctors as sources of information, their primary resource appears to be family. For those whose decision was influenced by a physician, obstetricians may carry more weight.

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