Texas Midwives Letter
Doctors Opposing Circumcision
2442 NW Market St. Suite 42
Seattle WA 98107
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
2961 Ashby Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94705 USA
March 10, 1999
Thalia Hufton, President
Association of Texas Midwives
603 W. 13th Street
Austin, TX 78701
Dear Ms Hufton:
We were very shocked and concerned to hear that one of your midwives groups was going to allow a public circumcision to take place during its annual meeting. We were under the impression that midwives were in the vanguard of protecting children from harmful, needless surgical impositions, and that your organization vigorously advocated natural childbirth. There is nothing natural or protective about circumcision, with or without anesthesia. Circumcision has repeatedly been documented to cause serious physical, sexual, and psychological damage. Contemporary national and international research, ethics and logic, history, as well as the lack of endorsement by any national medical associations worldwide, prove that routine or ritual circumcision is both unnecessary and sexually harmful. On March 1, 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement that circumcisions cannot be justified on medical grounds, and the AAP recommended against them. Your association's participation in unnecessary surgery on non-consenting children which is known to cause serious injury, and even death in some cases, places you, your colleagues, and your association in legal jeopardy.
Those who perform this procedure, insurance companies that subsidize it, and administrators who provide support cannot abdicate their legal responsibilities by saying the parents "requested" their son be circumcised or even "consented" to it. Amputation of healthy body tissue, whether an ear, a nose, clitoris or prepuce, is forbidden by medical ethics as well as human rights principles. All children are under the protections afforded them by provisions of the 5th, 14th and 19th Amendments to the United States Constitution which provide equal protection and prohibit sex discrimination. If a parent wants someone to amputate a child's body part, there must be an independent assessment and decision about such a procedure. If an irreversible procedure such as circumcision has no clear medical justification, the parent has no right for making such a request. Such an amputation constitutes genital mutilation. Only the person affected can consent to damaging procedures, and with infant circumcision this is clearly not possible.
In order to protect yourselves and your organization from potential legal liability, you would be well advised to disallow this and all other circumcisions. We are, frankly, surprised to know that midwives endorse this form of sexual amputation and find it disheartening that we must point out the legal implications in order to help dissuade you and your group from this course. Infant circumcision is, simply stated, contraindicated sexual surgery of minors under the legal age of informed consent or refusal. We hope you will reconsider allowing such a mutilation. We consider your receipt of this letter to constitute notice of your potential liability. Thank you for your attention to this serious violation of infant sexual integrity.
George C Denniston MD MPH, President, D.O.C.
J. Steven Svoboda Esq, Director, ARC