Attorneys for the Rights of the Child Newsletter

Executive Director's Message

A belated Merry Christmas, a very belated Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy New Year to all. You are holding in your hands (or reading on the computer) the first issue of our eighth volume. Al Fields has been the newsletter editor for almost every one of those, so let’s all hold our hats off to him as he and I celebrate our tenth anniversary of doing newsletters together. A decade ago, when we put together Volume 1, Number 1 (eight pages in length) by facsimile, I was at a conference on gender issues in rural Jamaica organized by the man who eventually co-authored an Oxford University Press book on gender issues with me, Warren Farrell.

This issue of the ARC Newsletter contains several items that we hope will be of great interest. Happily, there is much to be excited about.

Intact America Executive Director and ARC Secretary Georganne Chapin updates us on achievements in the last year by her organization, Intact America (IA). Many of us have worked hard to support IA and we are thrilled to see that it is helping transform the level of discourse on these issues, much as we hoped it would do.

This issue also includes a reprint (with BSI’s kind permission) of an interview with me that recently appeared in BSI’s In Search of Fatherhood magazine. It delves into issues other than intactivism; since I was surprised myself to see some of the topics that came out, no doubt some of you will be as well. We are also reprinting my abstract for the upcoming NOCIRC Conference, to be held July 28-31 at the University of California at Berkeley.

Lawyer Goodman Thrace contributes an engaging and thoughtful analysis of trends in Kentucky regarding public access to health care information and the state’s equivalent of the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Longtime collaborator and attorney David Wilton contributes a bracing tale of his two weekends advocating the benefits of intactivism at the Folsom Street Fair and the Castro Street Fair.

We were lucky enough to receive triple threat reports—by Dan Bollinger, Marilyn Milos, and Dan Strandjord--on the American Academy of Pediatrics Conference, held in Washington, DC in October. Dan and Marilyn were staffing the NOCIRC booth and Dan was outside pounding the pavement. Georganne also discusses IA’s take on events at its own booth in DC. This was the first time our movement placed multiple booths at a major medical conference, but we are sure it will not be the last time!

A brilliant and unique new book from a young South African author, Thando Mgqolozana, is reviewed in this issue, which also contains a news piece from his country quoting this youthful writer. We report on a major legal victory recently announced in California, and on important developments in the United Kingdom regarding recognition of the applicability of that country’s Human Rights Act to circumcisions performed for “religious” reasons.

One of the most welcome pieces of news involves the absence of news—we happily still have nothing at all to report regarding new position state ments from either the AAP or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Based on the CDC’s own statements, it would seem that our hard work and strenuous activism is keeping the candle of truth alive and is holding off, perhaps permanently, a pro-circumcision announcement from either of these organizations.

Longtime movement friend Robert Van Howe reports on his experiences at another conference, the American Association of Family Physicians, held in Boston in October.

ARC continues to gain further signs of mainstream acceptance. Last issue, we reported that two additional content providers have picked up our newsletter, so that now all three major players—EBSCO, Gale, and ProQuest—carry the ARC Newsletter. As reported in the current issue, Michigan State University has accepted our archives for eventual donation many years in the future, after circumcision has reduced to the point that their primary purpose will be for historical purposes and to ensure such horrors are never resuscitated.

Recent activities include submitting our paper from the 2008 NOCIRC conference for publication in the upcoming Springer book, and appearing on “Thoughtcrime Radio” (KOPN Columbia, Missouri) for an hour-long interview by an unusually well-informed pair of hosts, L. Janel Martin and Rich Winkle.

ARC website upgrades have taken off again, and ARC Webmaster Rick King is doing a fantastic job. Our website will be down for a few weeks but once back up sometime in January, it should be better than ever. Organization, appearance, and content are all being substantially upgraded. With Irene Dillon’s and Georganne Chapin’s able assistance, plus some graphic design support from Intact America, the appearance on our website of two “Know Your Rights” brochures for potential litigants—a short version and a long version—is not far in the future.

Please always feel free to forward us anything of interest that you may encounter. We often only hear of such things from one person! A case in point: Longtime supporter Gilbert Ireland was kind enough to forward us complimentary copies of the October 26, 2009 issue of New York magazine, which contains a lavish twelve-page section on circumcision. The growing trend to leave newborns intact is discussed, as is pain, including full-page pictures of a placid baby before the procedure and an agonized baby during the procedure. While there is some nod toward “balance,” including a mention that the CDC may issue a pro-circumcision position statement, the overall impression is definitely a pro-intact one. Highly recommended if you can track it down.

Thanks so much to each of you for your support, be it emotional, financial, or both. We literally could not do it without you! And thanks to everyone who contributed, with only one day’s notice, to the annual matching grant program that we announced by email, which generated a total of $650 in contributions. As has always been the case since we started nearly thirteen years ago, no one at ARC receives any sort of stipend, and 100% of all tax-deductible donations go directly to defraying the costs of safeguarding children. Dona tions can be sent to J. Steven Svoboda, ARC, 2961 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707, or made through paypal at our website (www.arclaw.org/donate) or using the paypal address sarah@arclaw.org.

Our next issue will be out in the Spring of 2010. Until then, we wish you a most Joyous New Year!

J. Steven Svoboda
Executive Director
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child