Attorneys for the Rights of the Child Newsletter

Fall/Winter
2011
Vol.: 
9
No.: 
1
Steven Svoboda with his kids Sarita (age 6.5), Eli (age 9.5)

What an exciting, surprising year this has been. You hold in your hands or have on your screen a landmark event—our 25th newsletter issue and the first issue of the newsletter in its new online incarnation. New webmaster Jonathan Friedman and I have been working very hard to continually improve the website and he has proven truly a great team member.

The good news this year includes a sort of double victory from national medical associations. The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) decision to urge end to male circumcision and starts campaign to bring this about. Colorado becoming the 18th American state not to provide Medicaid funding for circumcision effective July 1, 2011. (This issue includes reports on both of these important developments.) I was fortunate enough to meet Gert van Dijk, one of the principals in this development, at the conference I attended in Keele, UK in August-September 2011. Secondly, South African Medical Association denounced infant male circumcision.

Also, ARC is proud to announce the release of our “Know Your Rights” brochure, now available on our website thanks to the active collaboration of ARC Secretary and Intact America Director Georganne Chapin. Although we are naturally never happy when surgical mishaps occur, it is positive news that this year has seen two successful circumcision-related lawsuits including a $4.6 million settlement in a Los Angeles botch case. (News reports on both cases appear in this newsletter issue.) On the negative side, two deaths occurred, and we also report on both of these sad events in this issue.

We are very happy that since the last issue, we have added three important new collaborators—ARC-UK Director Anthony Levin, Legal Strategist David Wilton, and Gender Equity Strategist Marc Angelucci. Anthony is an outstanding scholar and a truly committed activist who although born in Australia currently works as a barrister in the United Kingdom. He has several exciting ideas on which we are collaborating. David is a Bay Area attorney, a longtime intactivist, and creator of the Circumcision and HIV website. Marc is a Los Angeles lawyer who has achieved some truly amazing things using the courtroom to safeguard genuine gender equity. He has been a committed intactivist for a longtime and in fact this newsletter includes a reprint of his recent op-ed piece in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Daily Journals. I have known both David and Marc for a long time. Marc has been a good friend and colleague for many years and David and I have held two very productive face-to-face meetings in recent months to strategize and brainstorm about possible future directions for the movement. Welcome, Anthony, David and Marc!

This completes ARC's 15th year, another key event, as well as my 17th full year of intactivism.

This issue is packed with almost more good material than I can list: 1) Exclusive to the ARC Newsletter, Attorney and Eminent Blogger Rebecca Wald contributes her excellent article, “Beyond the Bris: Rounding Out Its First year”; 2) Miriam Pollack's superlative, heartfelt article originally presented at the 2010 Berkeley Symposium, “Circumcision: Gender, Identity, and Power”; 3) Longtime activist Dan Strandjord gives us an ARC exclusive—a bird's eye view of his unique brand of activism; 4) An intriguing piece by maverick Carl Augustsson on intactivism and political conservatism; 5) A story and photo montage from the August-September 2011 Genital Autonomy conference held at England's University of Keele at which I presented my paper, “Protecting all from genital cutting - law, human rights and medicalization,”; 6) Analysis by ARC Legal Analyst Peter Adler of the San Francisco ballot initiative and subsequent events including the new Califonia law; 7) Robert O'Connor reports on Boston's American Academy of Pediatrics conference; 8) our own Jonathan Friedman explains why “Circumcision is No Cure for HIV”; 9) A photo report on a recent conference organized at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas by youthful scholar and intactivist Travis Wisdom; 10) Carl Augustsson strikes again with a story and photos pertaining to Genital Integrity Awareness Week 2011; 11) a reprint of supporter Julie Van Orden's excellent Salt Lake City Tribune Op-Ed piece, “Abolish the 'Unkind Cut'”; 12) An announcement of the passing of Canadian activist John Sawkey, a close collaborator of mine in my early years in the movement; 13) News reports on Colorado's cessation of Medicaid funding for circumcision; 14) ARC's Peter Adler on why Medicaid coverage of circumcision is illegal; 15) Two book reviews including a review of longtime anti-FGC activist Soraya Mire's remarkable new memoir; 16) Blog reprints including one on “Why Circumcision is a Feminist Issue”; and 17) News reports.

Finally, the newsletter also includes an extensive tribute to the late, great activist Van Lewis, including remembrances of Van by a host of eminent activists, the text of the memorial speech I delivered at the memorial service held in Tallahassee in June 2011, photographs dating back to his first action with brother Ben Lewis in 1970, and more.

Social Networking Coordinator Travis Konzelman, a Registered Nurse based in Georgia, continues his energetic, skillful work to expand our effectiveness at interfacing with Facebook and other social networks. Our other efforts include a media appearance on Parenting Unplugged and another one coming up soon on the Cut Podcast.

We appreciate so much the support each of you offers us, whether it be emotional, financial, logistical, as colleagues, or a combination of these roles. I have said it before and will continue to reiterate that we literally could not do it without you! As has always been the case since we started, 100% of all tax-deductible donations go directly to defraying the costs of safeguarding children. Donations can be sent to J. Steven Svoboda, ARC, 2961 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707, or made through PayPal at our website (www.arclaw.org/arc_donate) or using the PayPal address sarah@arclaw.org.

I wish everyone the merriest of Christmases, the happiest of Hanukkahs, and a very joyful New Year.

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