Thursday, October 22, 2009

Infant Circumcision... What Happens to those Foreskins?

I just read this article on Dr Momma's blog... in it she traces some of the uses that circumcised foreskins are put to. Some are used to grow skin cultures that will be used for skin grafts. Some are used to make cosmetics. Did she really say cosmetics? Yes, she did. In fact, she goes in depth about how one very expensive skin cream advertised by Oprah Winfrey uses them. Oprah is silent on the issue.

I had heard rumors of infant foreskins being sold for use in cosmetics, but I never took the time to do the research myself. With the growing controversy about circumcision, it is no wonder that suddenly the CDC is promoting the practice again. Heaven forbid that parents actually want to keep their sons intact and that these cosmetic companies can't make their products!

When I was pregnant with my first child, I hoped and prayed for a girl so I wouldn't have to decide about this whole circumcision thing. I didn't really understand it all... they gave us literature in our childbirth class about it. I read it and reread it... it made sense to leave the baby alone, but it was such a prevalent practice that the whole issue was like taking a leap of faith. Luckily, my first child was a girl. Whew! I could table that issue until another time...

My second child was a boy. My inlaws offered to pay for the circumcision if we wanted, since funds were limited. Our pediatrician was willing to do the procedure in his office once my son was two weeks old. By that time, I had made up my mind. Our daughter had a wonderful, pain free start to life. Why shouldn't my son? Why should he have to experience pain every time he urinated? Why should he be strapped down and have this most sensitive of tissues cut off? At the time my son was born, many of these procedures were still being done without anesthesia... babies can't feel pain, right? Riiiiiggghhhhtt. I turned down my inlaws' offer and kept my son as he was meant to be. Maybe I got to this decision via a different route than some, but I've never looked back. When my others sons were born, circumcision was not even an option in my mind.

What about those parents who don't have the luxury I had? Most circumcisions are still done in the hospital before the baby is discharged. I wanted to cry when I changed my newborn nephew's diaper and saw the raw red flesh and the wound from the procedure on his little penis. How could anyone do this to a helpless little boy and feel good about it? I think that most parents don't think about the consequences. The baby is taken for circumcision so quickly after being born that most haven't even had time to really get to know their sons and their personalities. I had two wonderful weeks of getting to know my son... I could not let him be hurt. There was no argument strong enough for me to take him in and let them do unnecessary surgery on him.

So, even if a person is pro circumcision (something that I can't even fathom), how can they pay for a procedure to be done to their infant, and then let that body part be sold off to another company that uses it to harvest cells that are put into expensive cosmetics for rich women to smear on their faces? How can those women pay so much for cream containing the ingredients made from infant parts and knowingly use it? I don't know these answers. They baffle me.

They say that a single foreskin can be worth up to $100,000... you can bet that little boy never sees a penny of it for his contribution that he never even consented to. His parents don't see any of it either. How can this continue to happen? Protect your boys... they don't deserve to get the most sensitive area of their body lopped off so he'll "look like Dad." Say no to circumcision.

NOTE: For those who don't know what is involved in a circumcision, check out this description at


Caroline said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story. It will no doubt inspire others- especially those under pressure from family or friends to circumcise.

Anonymous said...

When I was pregnant I remember having the conversation with my husband about circumcising our son Jack. He gave me the whole, "but he should look like me" speech. I had already known I wasn't going to rob my son of his birthright to have his foreskin intact. My husband was completely in the dark about the procedure and what it would mean for our son to have to experience such trauma so early in life. After educating him on circumcision as a means of gential mutilation and how it takes away a man's ability to experience full sexual pleasure, he was convinced that it was a painful means to an unjustified ends.

On the another note, why should companies receive 100% profits from your children when that money alone could put kids through college!
Knowledge is power, save those foreskins, they are worth a lot more than $100,000!

modej said...

I MUST give you a big AMEN!

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

But what if Dad wants it done (even though you really really don't)? My sons are all circumcised because I didn't have a choice in the matter.

Bobby said...

Circumcision has been practiced for centuries and has been controversial nearly as long. There are many issues to consider and religious tradition is not the least of them. Then there are also schools of thought that sustain circumcision is more sanitary than leaving the foreskin on. What is done later with the foreskin is hardly the issue. Ultimately, it is the parent's decision and rightly so.

Andrea Asa Sonnenberg said...

I'm a year late (and a dollar short) with my comment, but I find the comment "My sons are all circumcised because I didn't have a choice in the matter." to be so profoundly heart-rending. Every woman should have a say in what happens to her children at birth.

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