On Momversation: Circumcision?

Hang on to your foreskin!  It’s going to be a bumpy ride on Momversation.  Cool Mom readers know my feelings about circumcision… one for which I garnered much more support than I expected.  So I brought it up to the Momversation panel.  Can’t say I made any friends on this one!

Well, see how the moms hash out the question: to cut or not to cut?

59 thoughts on “On Momversation: Circumcision?

  1. I had to face that decision 13 years ago but my choice was even harder. When I adopted my son he was 6 mo old and was a ward of LA County. Because nobody made that decision for him when he was born, he wasn’t circumcised.

    When I took him for his first check up with our family Dr – the Dr asked if I was going to do it. I said … well I figured because he’s six months old now it wasn’t something that we’d do. He suggested that we still do it – but said that we’d need to wait until he was a year old to do it because they couldn’t put him under anesthesia.

    So there I am in the room totally confused. I left there and asked anyone and everyone what they thought. WHY was it the right or wrong thing to do? At the time, it wasn’t as easy to do research online so I asked people I respected to weigh in on it. People definitely had their own opinions … but nobody could explain WHY it was better for my son.

    Finally I spoke with a nurse practitioner friend of mine. She gave me the best advice I could have asked for. She put me in touch with a urologist and we took him in for a consult to see if there was in fact a medical reason for it.

    The result was yes … he was circumcised – but not because of a religious belief, or a preference for the way it looked … but because the way the skin was constricted in his case would eventually cause him problems and the Dr. said that it would result in a numbness to the tip – loss of feeling.

    So yes … I did it. Do I feel it’s right for everyone .. NO WAY. In fact, I think that everyone has their own duty to do their own diligent research to determine what is right for them. Because I’ve been in the shoes of making that decision and knowing how hard it is, I will never judge another Mom for her own decision. It’s a tough one regardless of what side you choose.

  2. I usually enjoy these Momversations dispite being only 22, and I enjoyed this one as well. Certainly things to think about when I’ll have kids one day.

    I have to admit, I have always leaned towards circumcision. I hear it reduces the chance of bladder infections (among many, many other things). Having suffered from many as a child, at one point one having landed me in the hospital seriously ill when I was 3, I would do anything I could to reduce the chance of him getting one.

    There is of course more, but everyone has already gone over so many points I feel it would probably be redundant for me to repeat them.

    There is one other – tiny – thing. I’m not sure if you yourself make the videos Daphne but this was the first one I’ve noticed having background music. For me it made it harder to hear the panelists. It might not be the same for everyone, I do have some hearing abnormalities which at times makes it different to separate sounds. I’d like to say to leave it out, but it is of course your call. I would be watching regardless 🙂

  3. I gotta say, your conviction inspires me. I know you wouldn’t say anything to other moms if you didn’t feel our sons weren’t getting a voice. We younger moms just like to pretend we’ve always known what we we’re doing. It’s hard to accept that a woman who “waited” to have children not only made a wise choice, but that she also began the game with more world experience. Let us know what you think, woman…it’s in everyone’s favor.

  4. Kristy, that is such a interesting story. The machinations of adoption are so complex.

    Alex, I’m not sure about the bladder connection.. meaning men give woman bladder infections? or that foreskin give them to themselves?

    Thanks Jessica!

  5. I find it odd that Daphne and Maggie have such strong opinions when medical experts don’t. All you need do is look up “circumcision” on wikipedia to see that the health benefits are widely disputed. In some cases, the consensus seems to favor circumcision. (See: the WHO’s position on circumcision as a preventative measure against the transmission of HIV.)

    I guess I don’t understand the argument, assuming there is one. Are you moms saying that circumcision is bad because it involves inflicting pain on your child? If so, do you plan on inoculating your babies, taking them to the dentist, etc.?

    I completely agree if your positions is that pain should not be inflicted on babies for religious reasons, but I think most modern-day proponents of circumcision (who have given the issue any serious thought) hold their position for medical reasons supported by scientific research. I didn’t hear Daphne or Maggie respond to that research, let alone acknowledge its existence.
    NOTE From Daphne… wikipedia is a source for science??

  6. I appreciated Maggie and Alice’s views on this and felt they were both measured and reasonable.

    Daphne on the other hand…. As Alice showed with much grace, you can disagree with someone without coming across as intolerant, ignorant, misinformed or hateful.

    There are valid reasons for circumcision just as there are valid reasons against it. You can have your view without needing to crucify those who disagree.

    Personally, I see it like an immunisation, not at all pleasant, but gives some protection against things I don’t want my child experiencing. It’s more complicated for us, as we’re adopting and it may not be our choice. But if we do make the decision to circumcise, like most families (regardless of how much I discussed my decision with Daphne), it will be a decision made as a result of research and personal values, not because Daphne says I’m a bad mother who wants to hurt her child.

  7. I usually enjoy Momversation, but didnt today, Daphne. Not because there wasnt a “kum-by-ya” moment…But because you didn’t pose an open question to start it off.

    You basically opened the topic by saying “I’m against circumcision for all of these reasons. Now I dare you to tell me Im wrong.”

    What I usually like about Momversation is that it’s a way of having honest discussion about the struggles and joys we all face, without going the “Mommy War” route.

    Today was the exception. It was a low moment.

    Alice had good reasons for circumcising her son, which included her husband being JEWISH. That, to me, feels like an entirely valid reason, which was never recognized by you or the other moms. Perhaps you and the others were less judgmental in the raw tape.

    I certainly hope so.

  8. I usually love momversation, but I was really uncomfortable watching this episode because you were so antagonistic and mean. What I enjoy about momversation is that I get to see other moms talk about their struggles in a fun and respectful way. Your part of the video was not respectful.

    I have always liked watching your vlogs and momversation videos, but I think I might have to avoid them in the future. If I want to feel badly about my decisions as a parent, I could listen to the crazy people at the grocery store. I don’t listen to them, and, after today, I don’t really want to listen to you.

  9. Its unethical to solicit surgery on a healthy child. Instructions on intact care should be the default. Which is easy, wipe like a finger. Only clean what is seen and NEVER ever retract the foreskin because its tightly bonded to the glans just as nature intended it to be. We’re not removing other body parts for prophylactic reasons, so why the male prepuce? On a newborn? Healthy boys aren’t born defected. There is no reason to remove healthy parts from the human body.

    The only reason to remove the foreskin is gangrene or frostbite. I’d rather have that on my foreskin and it be removed than to NOT have a foreskin and frostbite or gangrene on my penis and have to have the whole penis removed!

    Babies, do not have those problems.

    Cancer? Puleeze, lets all remove the breast buds off our daughters for prophylactic reasons shall we? The American Cancer Society has refuted those claims a long time ago. Are you still going to find some silly reason to reduce your child’s penis? They use to say it cured epilepsy, club foot, and paralyses! Like a lying greasy car salesman doing anything for a buck right?

    Cleaner? Yeah ok, say your son is too stoooopid to Retract Rinse Replace a retractable foreskin. Hate to be with a circ’d man who thinks he doesn’t have to clean himself. Or to think he has on a natural condom because he is circ’d and becomes a male hore.

    The average age for natural retraction is 10.5 yrs. Sometimes full retraction doesn’t happen until the child hits puberty. This is normal. But here in America DOCTORS ARE IGNORANT of normal male genitalia. They ask, “Are you going to circumcise?” because it makes them a lot of money, and feeds their own ego because these doctors are circ’d themselves and the circumcising female docs have sons that are circumcised and NO ONE WILL BE BETTER THAN THEM – heavens no! Circ’d American males have no idea what they’re missing. Keep your black and white TV to your selves, let the boys stay intact and experience their Color TV – got it! Circumcision is a ritual term. Doctors should be practicing medicine NOT rituals. The foreskin is NOT a birth defect. Bring your WHOLE baby home!

  10. I do NOT think Daphne was disrespectful AT ALL! What I really think is that because some people have a different opinion than Daphne, then Daphne’s words are ‘mean’. I asked my husband if Daphne was mean and he said NO WAY, and I agree. People need to educate themselves, and realize that circumcision IS mutilation. No matter how much you cut or how you cut it, cutting healthy part of the body IS mutilation. Simple as that. Daphne didn’t make it up, is just a fact.

    If someone finds circ to be cleaner, then, I guess they prefer amputation rather than washing with water. I wonder why the majority of the world population doesn’t have any foreskin problems, 80% of the male in the WORLD are intact yet they don’t have all those ‘problems’ the American doctors claim that the men will encounter for having a foreskin.

    Excuse me but babies are not born with dotted lines in their penises, foreskin is not a birth defect!!!


  11. btw, all those infections people talk about – problems with foreskin etc. are due to PREMATURE RETRACTION DONE BY THE PROFESSIONALS THAT DO NOT OWN A FORESKIN AND BY PARENTS WRONGLY INFORMED TO RETRACT FOR CLEANING.

    The way you should clean a baby w/ a foreskin is simple: WIPE LIKE A FINGER, JUST DO NOTHING BUT WIPING THE DIAPER AREA that’s it!

    Please check out the educational website above, it also explains how Female Genital Mutilation compares to Male Genital Mutilation (aka circumcision)

  12. sorry I promise this is going to be my last post…


    oh please, tell me if any man that has been circumcised can have unprotected sex with an infected person and will not get sick with HIV? Could you try and do just that to see how protected you are? Besides, babies or kids are not going to be sexually active why do this to babies or a non-consenting child? How about if he prefers his foreskin and have an educated sex life with proper condom protection NOT amputation? And… how ironic kids also get ear infections and we are not cutting the kids’ ears to prevent them!

    Circumcision should be left to the owner of the penis, it is NOT a parental decision but THE OWNER OF THE PENIS DECISION! Routine Infant circumcision is a violation of Human Rights. period.

    NOTE From Daphne.. Latina mom..thanks for all this. In repsonse those that said I wasn’t having a converstation.. ah, I know!! I said from the begining I am dogmatic about this issue. Just the way some are about hitting kids. I really DO NOT see a gray area. Different religions dictate all kinds of thing I don’t agree with. And I don’t think there is a good reason for the routine circumsion of infants. Sorry!

  13. I think it’s so wonderful that this topic is now being more openly discussed. I can’t say I knew much about circumcision prior to two years ago when my daughter had a three week stay in the NICU. I’d been with men both circumcised and not, so I knew what the difference was but both kinds of men can get the job done, if you know what I mean. Other than knowing the difference, I hadn’t given it much thought. We knew we were having a girl, so I didn’t research it any further, I guess I assumed a boy of mine would be circumcised since my husband is.
    The three weeks my daughter was in NICU at a major Houston hospital, I saw and heard four different circumcisions. It was horrible and something I’ll never forget. They do it to these babies a day before they go home, after they’ve spent weeks on ventilators and IV tubes. The second time I saw (and heard) this being done (the treatment room was at the back of the NICU near my daughter’s station) I asked the nurse about it. She told me all about it and gave me an ear full of advice, which was basically don’t do it. I read up on what she said and it was all true. I even asked our pediatrician about it (strange, I know, since we had a girl, but the things I saw gave me nightmares). He doesn’t recommend them either and refuses to perform them now (he used to when he was out of med. school).
    I’m not here to judge. Really I’m not and I do believe parents have to do what they feel is right for their child. And I’m certainly not speaking about religious circumcision of Jewish children as I know nothing about that aspect. I just think it’s important to discuss this topic and get it out in the open for parents such as myself. Had my daughter not been born prematurely, or is she had been born a he, I might have agreed to circumcision without really knowing what all it entails and that it’s not a needed procedure, just a cosmetic one.
    I’m pregnant with my second child. I’m only 11 weeks along so I don’t know the gender. But if we have a boy I’m confident he will be kept “intact” and not circumcised.
    Thanks to all three moms for sharing their side of the story. It’s important for moms to talk about it.

  14. latinamomof3 (and others):

    I pointed you to experts and doctors who performed scientific studies to corroborate their findings. You reply with homespun reasoning like “well, we should cut their ears off too then!” I almost don’t know where to begin.

    Do you really not see any difference between a foreskin (an organ that has no function) and an ear (an organ that does)? Did you really not understand the WHO when it concluded that circumcision could HELP prevent the transmission of HIV, not stop it entirely? Michelle, are you really so informed as to conclude that “DOCTORS ARE IGNORANT”?

    Both Daphne and Maggie seem like smart ladies. I’m sure they would agree that medical research is more persuasive than bad analogies and shallow refutations.

  15. Well, whoddathunkit? I didn’t imagine this topic becoming so hot.

    I didn’t find Daphne antagonistic (sp?) … I don’t necessarily agree with her argument but I respect her opinion and her right to it … I think she has valid points and is entitled to her own thoughts and to publish them here on HER site.

    Keep it up, Daphne – I love that you tell it how you see it … spare me from any more ‘perfect pc mommies’.

    Michelle, I can only roll my eyes at your statements, sorry.
    NOTE from Daphne: thanks Lou.. maybe it’s cause I’m a cranky pregnant lady, but I didn’t feel like being diplomatic and PC.

  16. Hello,

    I got here from Maggie’s blog, which I read regularly. I just want to chime in that there is recent, strong evidence that male circumcision decreases heterosexual HIV transmission by more than 50%.

    I appreciate that you have thoroughly considered your position and agree that the evidence in favor of routine circumcision was not compelling several years ago. However, I strongly urge you to read the relevant scientific and medical literature that led to the WHO recommendations. I think that if you look at the evidence today, you may change your mind.
    NOTE from Daphne… hmm, I always told my partners to wear a condom.

  17. okay then Tim, would you volunteer with your circumcised penis and have unprotected sex with an infected person? You do need to report if you are safe and not infected. Seriously people, CONDOMS makes you safe. No matter, circumcised or not, you NEED to use condoms! I wonder why the majority of the world (80%) not circumcised doesn’t have any problems with foreskin or STD’s. In fact, USA has a major rate in HIV than other countries that do NOT routinely circumcised their baby boys. I prefer to leave that decision to my boy when he is an adult. If he wants to have a promiscuous life and have unprotected sex all over around then he could get that part of his penis cut off (which again doesn’t even make any sense to prevent STD’s with amputation of the foreskin), in the meantime, while he is a baby and will not have sexual activity I prefer to wash it with water rather than AMPUTATION. I wonder why some Doctors prefer such radical remedies?!?!

    BTW I don’t Daphne to be antagonistic AT ALL! It’s all in the conscious of each individual….

    again, watch this video – you people need it:

  18. I think there is a definite knee jerk reaction here, with A LOT of it directed at Daphne……and a lot of that says more about you than her. It sounds like the people that circ’d their kid have VERY strong reactions to this based on the premise that they couldn’t possibly be wrong…..why not? It isn’t to say anyone is a bad parent, but there is some very compelling new research that shows circumcision is not necessary. Its ok to question, AND its ok to have conviction. Just as its ok to disagree with someones conviction. What I find disagreeable here are people who can’t possibly be wrong.

  19. latinamomof3,

    You leave my mystified. With reasoning abilities like yours, your kids have more to worry about than their damn foreskins being cut off. Either you’re playing dumb, or it’s not an act.

    Nobody is saying that a circumcised person will never contract HIV. I eat fruits and vegetables every day so that I don’t catch an illness. Does this guarantee that I’ll never get sick? Absolutely not, but it’s still a good idea. Certain studies indicate that the risk of contracting HIV is less for a circumcised person than for a non-circumcised person. I grant you that there are other precautions people should take, such as using condoms, but it makes sense to take additional steps. I eat fruits and veggies, but I also consume vitamins and wash my hands.

    Furthermore, I think you’re overestimating your ability to control who your children have sex with and what contraceptives they use (if any).

    Additionally, what’s so wrong with circumcision? Yes, it causes the child pain. But so do shots, getting cavities removed, etc. Do you apply your same ridiculous logic to these issues, as well?

    Finally (and I’m going to write this in CAPS so you read it and maybe, if we’re lucky, understand it), WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS!!! People who are more educated on this topic than you see medical benefits to circumcision. That doesn’t mean that you should circumcise your children, but it does mean that having a dogmatic position such as yours is (and I’m sensing a theme here) ridiculous.

    For the record, I don’t think Daphne was antagonistic. I simply think that her position was uninformed and dogmatic.

    Where are you getting your statistics regarding people in other countries?

  20. Uninformed? The American Academy of Pediatrics last year finally came out against doing circumcision as a common procedure.

    That doesnt sound uninformed….that sounds ahead of the curve.

  21. You can NEVER compared eating fruits or vaccinations to MUTILATION. period. what is wrong with routine infant circumcision? That it is mutilation w/o the child’s consent. Violation of Human Rights. Google foreskin restoration, you;ll find millions of men trying to restored what was stolen from them, why is that? Babies do not come with dotted lines in their penises, 80% of the male in the world are intact yet we find more HIV infected people here in the US than in countries than do not routinely circumcise their babies boys. And YES, I have listened to the EXPERTS!

    Do you want to hear the experts? Here they talk about how normal is the foreskin, also a lawyer talks about violation of human rights and a Nurse born in Somalia comparing Female Genital Mutilation to Male Genital Mutilation (aka circumcision)
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5395565256830319025 (Features Dr. Dean Edell)

    And how Israel are now seeing circumcision as a barbaric procedure
    Jewish News – It just doesn’t cut it
    “Growing trend not to circumcise Jewish babies less worrying than fact ritual has become meaningless to seculars”

  22. kendall,

    Daphne did not reference any studies in her schpeel. Rather, she said that she thinks it is “dead wrong” and was unabashed in her dogmatism.

    The American Academy of Pediatrics concluded: “Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical BENEFITS of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision. In the case of circumcision, in which there are potential BENEFITS and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child’s current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child.”

    Verdict: potential BENEFITS and risks associated with circumcision. These findings don’t justify a categorical position. I don’t condone routine circumcisions, but I also don’t condone ridiculous, unfounded dogma.
    NOTE from Daphne: Tim, look go to http://www.nocirc.org. Also I think it’s interesting that when I talked about circumcision on this blog before probably 90% of comments supported my position. With the momversation convo it’s more heated. Everyone can find their own site to support their positions. Mine is UNCHANGED.

  23. Hey Daphe, kudos to you for bringing up a topic that generates differing opinions presented in a calm and rational manner. A lot of mommy blogs and websites aren’t willing to “go there” with topics besides those that seem to register automatic agreement with readers and participants. I really think it’s great that you took a chance with this. Elizabeth

  24. Wait a minute…..weren’t you just preaching on and on about “medical experts” and how we should always differ to them? Or wait, wikipedia? “WHY DONT YOU LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS” Isn’t that dogma?

    Medical experts change their mind all the time……so according to you, we should suspend critical thinking and follow whatever they say. OR, maybe take the information at hand, weigh both sides AND THEN come up with our own conclusions. Thats what discussions like these do….get people to ask those questions and get a 360 view.

    PS I like how you cap BENEFITS and not the RISKS……subtle

  25. AmyB, thank you for sharing your story. I’m baffled that American doctors don’t disclose any of this information before soliciting this procedure. I even called my pediatrician to ask why they don’t tell you this information when they’re asking, “Do you want to circumcise?”. She wouldn’t speak with me, but her nurse said they have a policy which is, “Don’t tell the parents anything unless they ask.” Which has me wondering, if the parents didn’t go to medical school and are brainwashed by our sick American society that foreskins harbor diseases, filthy, and ugly, then how do the parents know what to ask? Some don’t have a clue. They just think, “Well, if the doctor is asking, then it must be a good thing, right?”

  26. @Tim

    Especially in the US, and other first world countries, the HIV argument is pretty much bunk. It’s also a stupid policy in Africa and will almost certainly be a long term failure but for other reasons. Anyway, to determine the probability of not becoming infected you can use the following formula:

    (1 – [chance of transmission from sex])^[sexual encounters]

    Now for the estimates, let’s assume that there is a risk reduction of 50% for circumcised men. This is the number most often banted around by the popular media and those clowns in Africa. The probability of infection in any one encounter with an HIV positive partner varies depending on viral load, co-infection, and numerous other reasons. For example, people are most infectious soon after being infected. Infectiousness lessens after a few weeks which is one reason HIV spreads so fast in Africa, read The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS by Helen Epstein to find out why it’s so infectious in Africa but not anywhere else. Anyway, I’ve seen numbers for women infecting men range from 1/700 – 1/2500 but we’ll estimate that the chance of infection is 0.1%. That means a male having unprotected sex with an HIV positive women has about a 1 in 1000 chance of being infected. The number of sexual encounters is important too. If we assume 1000, then the probability of not being infected after 1000 encounters with an HIV positive woman would be:

    Base line risk intact men vs circumcised men 1000 heterosexual contacts/HIV+ partner.

    [1 – 0.001]**1000 ~= 36.76 -> 63% 3/5
    [1 – 0.0005]**1000 ~= 60.64 -> 40% 2/5

    But, the HIV distribution in the population is 5 in 1000 or 1/200 so the odds when I add that wheel, the numbers are:

    1/200 * 3/5 = 3/1000 = 1/333.3 -> 1 – 0.003 -> 99.997%
    1/200 * 2/5 = 2/1000 = 1/500 -> 1 – 0.002 -> 99.998%

    But, the HIV distribution in the population is 5 in 1000 or 1/200 so the odds when I add that wheel, the numbers are:

    1/200 * 3/5 = 3/1000 = 1/333.3 -> 1 – 0.003 -> 99.997%
    1/200 * 2/5 = 2/1000 = 1/500 -> 1 – 0.002 -> 99.998%

    But of course, I won’t just have one sex partner, what fun is that? A quick google says the average is 7 but I’ll use five, it makes my life easier and distribute the encounters evenly.

    [1 – 0.001]**200 ~= 82% -> 20% -> 1/5
    [1 – 0.0005]**200 ~= 90% -> 10% -> 1/10

    So the odds of not contracting HIV from any given partner:

    (odds of having an HIV+ partner) * (risk of contracting) =

    1/200 * 1/5 = 1/1000 -> 0.001 -> 99.99%
    1/200 * 1/10 = 1/2000 -> 0.0005 -> 99.995%

    Of course there are some caveots to this. First, the 1/200 is quite high since 75% of the HIV positive population are men. Women only account for about 1/4 of the total which reduces that to between say 1/700 or 1/1000. And I am not even making any attempt to figure in regular condom use which essentially reduces your risk at least one but proabably two orders of magnitude. Also the probability of infection may be higher or lower depending on other factors. The bottom line is the numbers don’t really make a good case for infant circumcision. If a man finds himself in a higher risk group and think the incremental benefit is worth it then he is free to get circumcised. But for the vast majority of the population there is no practical benefit, a difference on the order of thousandths of a percent.

    So you go on and on about the HIV histeria but don’t give it any critical thought. HIV is taylor made and the perfect vehicle to propel hysterical thinking like this. And if you want to know what the experts say you should be looking at Western organizations like the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations who in their July 2007 statement said: “Male circumcision has no role in the Australian HIV epidemic”, “African data on circumcision is context-specific and cannot be extrapolated to the Australian epidemic in any way.”, and perhaps their best observation “The USA has a growing heterosexual epidemic and very high rates of circumcision”. (http://www.afao.org.au/library_docs/policy/Circumcision07.pdf). With all these circumcised men in the US why do we have a growing problem (one that is the largest in the Western world by the way).

    As far as the WHO goes, they’re all a bunch of politicians anyway. But if you read their statement closely you’ll see that the recommendations of the WHO state that this strategy is aimed at countries with high prevalence, and not at countries with low prevalence or in countries where it relates specifically to one part of the population such as the United States. They should have added for consenting adults only but I guess it was too much to ask to focus limited resources on the at risk population only.
    NOTE from Daphne: right on Joe. Thanks Elizabeth.

  27. kendall,

    Never did I say that we should always defer to doctors or that parents should always circumcise. I have said that we should LISTEN to the medical experts (as you quoted me saying), by which I mean read (or listen), consider, and then decide. My frustration with Daphne’s vlog and certain commentators is that they did not acknowledge or discuss the scientific data. In a nutshell, my position has always been that this is a difficult issue with data on both sides, making emphatic opinions (such as, “it’s dead wrong”) unjustified.

    I also don’t think that we should suspend our critical reasoning abilities when it comes to any kind of expertise. That said, I think it’s funny that you would get on my case about suspending critical reasoning when we’ve got Daphne (and others) slinging around half-cocked opinions like rice at a wedding.

    Subtlety seems lost on some of those participating in this discussion. I capitalized BENEFITS because that is the point that few in this discussion seem willing to acknowledge—namely, that there are potential benefits associated with circumcision. I didn’t capitalize RISKS because there are plenty out there (such as yourself) willing to do that for me.

  28. @Tim

    Tim said: “I guess I don’t understand the argument, assuming there is one. Are you moms saying that circumcision is bad because it involves inflicting pain on your child? If so, do you plan on inoculating your babies, taking them to the dentist, etc.?”

    No, it’s a question of medically therapeutic. Circumcision is not in anyway medically therapeutic whereas vaccinations and dental visits are.

    Tim said: “I completely agree if your positions is that pain should not be inflicted on babies for religious reasons, but I think most modern-day proponents of circumcision (who have given the issue any serious thought) hold their position for medical reasons supported by scientific research.”

    Most researchers supporting male circumcision have a long and documented history of trying to ferret out the most trivial benefit. Circumcision has been the focus of intense scrutiny and study for at least 100 years. Do you think if there was anything really compelling there we would have figured it out by now? The truth is, any perceived benefit is either nonexistent, trivial, or can easily be realized with safer, less invasive, and more effective methods.

    Tim said: “Do you really not see any difference between a foreskin (an organ that has no function) and an ear (an organ that does)?”

    The foreskin does have function, it wouldn’t be there if it doesn’t. We don’t always know what the functions are but all body parts evolved for a reason. The foreskin is present in every mammal and considering how important that part of our bodies are, I doubt nature would screw it up.

    Tim said: “Additionally, what’s so wrong with circumcision? Yes, it causes the child pain. But so do shots, getting cavities removed, etc. Do you apply your same ridiculous logic to these issues, as well?”

    It’s wrong because it has no practical value and boys deserve better. Circumcision has no significant medically therapeutic benefit to it and therefore proxy consent is not valid.

    Tim said: “Finally (and I’m going to write this in CAPS so you read it and maybe, if we’re lucky, understand it), WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN TO THE EXPERTS!!!”

    We are listening to the experts. The AAP are really the only western fence sitters. No other medical association that has issued a policy on MGA has found sufficient “potential benefits” to justify the procedure. Where Americans view neonatal MGA “not essential” for health, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (2004) states that “there is no medical indication for routine male circumcision”; the Canadian Pediatric Society (1982, 1989, 1996) has called it a “mutilative” and “obsolete” operation; and the British Medical Association ([BMA] 2006) points out that there is rarely any clinical need for MGA, and that “parental preference alone is not sufficient justification for performing a surgical procedure on a child.”

    I should also add, the non-English speaking countries often have statements that are much harsher. The Finish Central Union for Child Welfare (Lastensuojelun Keskusliitto) has issued a strong statement (2003)

    “The Central Union for Child Welfare considers that circumcision of boys that violates the personal integrity of the boys is not acceptable unless it is done for medical reasons to treat an illness. The basis for the measures of a society must be an unconditional respect for the bodily integrity of an under-aged person.

    Circumcision intervenes in the sexual integrity of a male child causing a permanent change in organisms and has consequences pertaining to both health and quality of life.

    The circumcision of girls is rightly considered as inhuman mutilation of the genitals and is punished abuse. Also boys must be guaranteed a similar protection by law.”

    While both Australia and Denmark are considering bans on the procedure:



  29. I myself would not circumcise if I had a boy, but I have to say it’s kind of disheartening to see you (Daphne) basically attack the other point of view. What is someone to respond with when you say “This is dad wrong, and you can have a different opinion, but I don’t care, because it’s wrong”? The fact is, regardless of your stance on it, circumcision is not life or death. There are pros and cons to either side, not to mention, in Alice’s case, strong religious reasons one might do it. There is no reason to attack another mother for something she’s already done that is really so harmless.

  30. Daphne,

    I, like your co-workers, happen to drive on the ‘right’ side of the road. If you find that so outrageous, then I’m very happy I don’t live in your ‘neck of the woods.’

    In case you were wondering (as I’m sure you were, because you seemed to have made this issue part of your business) YES, my 18 yr. old son IS circumcised and thanks me every day for it. (that last part, isn’t really true… But, he’s never complained about it either.)

  31. Just wondering how you’re doing over here. I still admire your tenacity, which makes me think you’re unphased by the controversy that’s whipped everyone into a frenzy. Probably enjoying a glass of wine and a foot rub.

    Well, hang in there, I know you’re not superwoman, despite your very real potential to be. Thanks for your example, it really strengthens me as a person.

    Sleep well!

  32. Hey Jessica.. thanks.. have just had a moment to read all of these. um, I’ve been more whooped up about my daughters ear infections.
    I invite those who disagree with my stance to see the comments on my no circ blog I did a few weeks back. They will be less friendly waters.
    And if people don’t think mothers judge other mothers, or people judge other people…um, are they living in Strawberry Shortcake land?

  33. In full disclosure, I want to say that I came across this first on Alice’s web page and already posted a comment there. This will be my second time ever posting a comment on a blog. I am just so tired of this crap. The problem is not that you (or others) have a strong opinion on this topic. The problem is that in every other Momversation I have seen, the format has always been one in which the first mother is looking for feedback or ideas about how to handle a certain difficulty. She is inviting a conversation. You were just pontificating, which is fine, but is not what people expect when they watch those videos and apparently is not what the other participants expect. It was poor form because of the context. And just because some of us are REALLY tired of mothers bashing each other over the choices we make for our families does not mean that we are living in Strawberry Shortcake Land. It means that we find it tiresome when we see yet another example of it, particularly in the context of a “Momversation”, where, if memory serves correct, there was somewhat recently a conversation on the topic of judgmental people butting in to each other’s parenting. So, go ahead, pontificate and judge all you want. Just know that some of us might have been a little more open to your point of view if you hadn’t been so anti-conversational about it. So, so tired of this. Who does it serve?

  34. Could you have been any more arrogant? I hope you don’t raise your child to be so narrow minded and judgemental. It’s not a pretty picture. I’m surprised you have this vidoe on your site. You obviously don’t see how it makes you look.

  35. In response to Daphne’s notes:

    (1) Perhaps you’re not familiar with wikipedia. At the bottom of the page, there are references to numerous studies and publications. Wikipedia is not the source. It’s what’s called a “reference.”

    (2) I will look at the website you recommend, just as I will consider the data that Joe presented. I’m all for rigorous investigation and honest inquiry. Sadly (and clearly I’m not alone here) your vlog communicated “I’m right and anyone who thinks otherwise is an idiot/bad parent” when it should have communicated “I’m opposed to circumcision for X reasons supported by Y research.” This could have been a chance to gently inform others. Instead, you blew it by trying to look cool. Not that I’m surprised–the title of your blog is a dead giveaway.

    (3) Just to be clear: I am not pro-circumcision. I am pro-reasonability, pro-honesty, and pro-inquiry.

  36. This arguing makes me very sad. I adore Daphne’s vlog and visit here daily for my little “fix.” I do not think she was intolerant or overbearing in her views on circumcision. Each parent (or set of parents) of a boy has to make this choice, and I don’t see that there is a “right” or “wrong” to it. Both sides present convincing facts; my husband and I decided to have our son circumcised, but I don’t feel any need to justify my reason to do so to anyone. Not family, friends, or the Internet. I respect Daphne’s decision to not have her son circumcised, as I would respect her decisions on how she will feed her child (breast or bottle) or how she will teach him to sleep through the night (cuddle or cry it out). It’s not something to fight about. Each parent makes his or her own choice.

  37. I made this post at one of the other spin off blogs generated by your video and I thought I’d post it here for your readers to consider. I wanted to share an article that was published last year in an Australian Journal, Medical Anthropology Quarterly. Before anyone completely dismisses any comparison with FGM please carefully read: A Rose by Any Other Name? Rethinking the Similarities and Differences Between Male and Female Circumcision.


    I think they make some very compelling points and I hope people who completely dismiss a link might be able to see how in some cases the two procedures are closer than we would like to believe. Perhaps it will give people more to think about.

    For further introspection, I also wanted to get some reactions to a blog I found. It’s of an Indonesian mother praising her infant daughter for getting through her circumcision bravely. Now clearly she did this at a hospital or pedi and infact a large majority of women in her part of the world do this. We here would have put her in jail for what she did but for some reason it was important to her.

    It was important for her (whether it was culture or religion), she had it done by a doc, and since the kid is an infant she won’t know what she was missing. My question to you all is: Is she a bad mother? If you say yes, she shouldn’t have done that how is it materially different from what we do to boys?

    It was important for her (whether it was culture or religion), she had it done by a doc, and since the kid is an infant she won’t know what she was missing. My question to you all is: Is she a bad mother? If you say yes, she shouldn’t have done that, how is it materially different from what we do to boys?

  38. Looks like I’m late to the party…
    No national or international medical organization RECOMMENDS circumcision — even the aforementioned WHO. The relationship is not cause and effect.
    If circumcision prevented AIDS…then why don’t you see a spike in AIDS cases in all the other countries of the world. (Where they do NOT circumcise.)
    And why does it continue to rise here…the only country in the world that routinely circumcises? Gay circumcised boomers died in droves in the 80s but a lot of the pre-war (when most were not circumcised) older men lived. (Simply an observation albeit a good one.) To recommend it as a preventive measure is dangerous indeed…what is called for is called ‘Soap’. And ‘Water’. Things not found in abundance in parts of Africa.
    On a side note, I’m surprised by people’s take on Daphne’s viewpoint. I thought she was totally mellow and if anything not strident enough. I think you could at least wait and let the kid decide what he wants to do.
    Just watch a circumcision on youtube and tell me you’d do that all over again.
    I think that’s all…but srsly if you think it’s arrogant or intolerant to defend an innocent baby boy’s nether regions, my god, YOU are the bully here.

  39. You might also want to check out the following. It looks like I can’t post links, but you can find all these quotes on the organizations’ official websites:

    Canadian Paediatric Society
    “Recommendation: Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.”
    “Circumcision is a ‘non-therapeutic’ procedure, which means it is not medically necessary.”
    “After reviewing the scientific evidence for and against circumcision, the CPS does not recommend routine circumcision for newborn boys. Many paediatricians no longer perform circumcisions.”

    Royal Australasian College of Physicians
    “After extensive review of the literature the Royal Australasian College of Physicians reaffirms that there is no medical indication for routine neonatal circumcision.”
    (those last nine words are in bold on their website, and almost all the men responsible for this statement will be circumcised themselves, as the male circumcision rate in Australia in 1950 was about 90%. “Routine” circumcision is now *banned* in public hospitals in Australia in all states except one.)

    British Medical Association
    “to circumcise for therapeutic reasons where medical research has shown other techniques to be at least as effective and less invasive would be unethical and inappropriate.”

    National Health Service (UK)
    “Many people have strong views about whether circumcision should be carried out or not. It is not routinely performed in the UK because there is no clear clinical evidence to suggest it has any medical benefit.”

    Canadian Children’s Rights Council
    “It is the position of the Canadian Children’s Rights Council that ‘circumcision’ of male or female children is genital mutilation of children.”

    drops in male circumcision:
    USA: from 90% to 57%
    Canada: from 47% to 14%
    UK: from 35% to about 5% (less than 1% among non-Muslims)
    Australia: 90% to 12.6% (“routine” circumcision has recently been *banned* in public hospitals in all states except one, so the rate will now be a lot lower)
    New Zealand: 95% to below 3% (mostly Samoans and Tongans)
    South America and Europe: never above 5%

    It’s worth remembering that we wouldn’t even be having this discussion if it weren’t for the fact that 19th century doctors thought that :
    a) masturbation caused various physical and mental problems (including epilepsy, convulsions, paralysis, tuberculosis etc), and
    b) circumcision stopped masturbation.

    Both of those sound ridiculous today I know, but if you don’t believe me, then google this: “A Short History of Circumcision in North America: In the Physicians’ Own Words”.

  40. I have read perhaps half of the comments here. I will finish reading later.

    Just before the middle of the last century, I was circumcised eight days after birth. My parents found it a non-event with no complications.

    Twenty-one years ago I began working to improve my ability to relate to others. One of the big issues that I found was my circumcision. I believe that trauma contributed to post-traumatic stress disorder that complicated my life.

    But the circumcising knife had two edges. Finding within me unresolved tension of such impact as to dissociate a week-old brain has added to my understanding of human reality. To also find the wisdom and time and energy to actually heal this personality has been a religious experience. Those are both gains. I may also have gained some knowledge to pass on to doubters: Circumcise only with compelling reasons.

    I have mainly lost time and people. My acquaintances have been uncomfortable relating to my confusion and denial.

  41. Sexual behavior is a far greater factor in gauging one’s risk of contracting an STD than circumcision. One who always practices safer sex will most likely have a very insignificant risk level, while one who doesn’t will raise their risk level. Condoms are known to provide protection against STDs, and they are both cheap on the body and in the wallet, so unless there’s a clear, compelling, and immediate medical reason to do so, circumcision on a non-consenting patient is malpractice, just as it is with any other procedure.

  42. It was nice and sort of a relief to see a non-Kumbaya moment. Forums like these wouldn’t be necessary if we all agreed on everything. It was surprisingly refreshing (as well as uncomfortable- yikes!) to see such strong views voiced between the moms. All I could think was, “Thank God I have a daughter!” I remember the anxiety about what to do in regard to circumcision had I given birth to a boy.

    This topic was a perfect example of how some decisions (even at times the most fundamental) vary from family to family/ mother to mother and how all any of us can really do is make the best decisions possible based on the information we have. This is what Momversation is all about! No matter what our choices, in the end, the kids will decide for themselves how deeply we’ve ruined them. 🙂

  43. Well my 13 yr old is not circumcised. His father was circumcised but didn’t have a preference for our son and I didn’t find it necessary, so it wasn’t done. I’m no longer with his father. I’m currently married and have a 9 yr old and 16 month old from my current husband of 10 yrs. My husband is circumcised and wanted his boys to be circumsised. There was no argument from me because I didn’t feel it was wrong. I said ‘OK’.

    Having 1 not circumcised and 2 that are circumcised I will say that I prefer circumcision. My 9 year old is much cleaner(no odor and no pee spots in the underwear) than the 13 year old while he was younger and not having to deal with pulling the skin back to make sure it is clean. I still do my 13 year olds laundry and he now takes very good care of himself so that is not an issue any more but I personally think it looks nicer circumcised. Also neither of my boys have ever had infections or complications of any sort.

    My oldest did question why does he look different from his brother and I explained why. I have asked him if he would like to be circumcised. His answer is always no and I’m sure that will never change. I don’t want him to feel different and tell him that he is pretty lucky because he is able to make the decision for himself if he chooses to.

    I also want to add that I have a cousin who had circumcised her son when he was 10 which was a few years ago and to my amazement he says he likes it but I don’t know if he is being honest. I felt really bad knowing how old he was and the pain he had gone through. He had a this extra skin for so many years and to have it suddenly removed I think is mind boggling. I will add future comments regarding his feelings toward being circumcised so late in age. I’m really interested to know myself as he gets older.

    This is a very touchy subject but babies get over the pain very quickly. I mean when my little ones returned to my room after their circumcisions they were sound asleep.

    This is ultimately a decision made by the parents and I don’t think it is a bad decision.

    Daphne I’m glad you brought this up. I don’t think you were disrespectful and I was really interested on what people had to say on this topic.

  44. Cindy with all due respect, I think that your personal preference should not be reflected in your son’s penis. What would you do when girls leave pee spots in their underwear? should I cut off their genitals too? Cutting the foreskin off is cutting 20,000 nerve endings that are vital for natural sexual function. It might be nicer to you but in countries that do not circumcise, having a child with his head exposed 24/7 is somewhat disturbing as the head is only exposed when erect in adults. Do you really think your intact boy wants to have the most sensitive part of his penis cut off? I really hope your circumcised boy doesn’t have access to the internet and the valuable information that it’s out there about circumcision and its harm.

    It’s NOT the parent’s decision – but the CHILD’s! Who’s penis is? The only decision the parent needs to make is to do NOTHING to someone else’s body. HIS body, HIS decision.

    Video regarding circumcision featuring Dr Dean Edell

  45. I’m very confused, Cindy, why you’re still enamored with the thought of cutting off the most sensitive/pleasurable part of boys’ penises when you’ve seen first-hand that even a temporary period where the child doesn’t take care to be perfectly clean is not harmful during the development of boys (and girls). In addition, infections are probably not the most common ailments of a circumcised penis; since the procedure was done at birth, you won’t know until they’re older what the true affects of it are. What may have been a small defect of the procedure at birth will grow as the child grows, and these may not show up until the teen years. Complications such as tight penile shafts, potentially causing painful erections; skin bridges, which ironically may be difficult to clean under; unsightly scars and skin tags, among others.

    Even if there turn out to be seemingly *no* defects, the children were still violated of their right to bodily integrity…and all *just* to look like their father? If a child truly is distraught as a result of having a different-looking penis from his father (or brothers or friends), it’s called counseling; not medically-unnecessary surgery. Seriously, do you think girls should be circumcised if their moms were?

  46. In reading my comment it did sound bad to indicate the preference of my sons penis. But there seem to be more Pros than Cons to having a circumcision done that I’m just not against it. I honestly can’t see how this can affect someone when done at birth. I’ve heard many times that its believed that infants have “poorly developed” neurologic systems. They can’t feel pain and if they did feel the pain, they would not remember it. Why would they feel violated if they haven’t even lived to know the difference. I can’t comprehend how circumcision could have a lasting effect on a child.

  47. Cindy, your last comment proves that you did not watch the video I posted for you to watch. It talks about what you just said in your last comment. You’ve ‘heard’ but that is not the fact! Please watch the video where PROFESSIONALS talk about this issue. The little benefits and harm cancel each other out, so basically circumcision IS a cosmetic surgery. NOT needed. It is unethical to perform cosmetic surgery in our children to meet the parent’s standards.


  48. What circumcision removes has a function, simply because it is rich in nerve endings. The foreskin and frenulum are central players in the male machinery for receiving sexual pleasure, and these may also 3be important for giving pleasure. Speaking from long experience, the foreskin certainly makes masturbation and manual foreplay easier and more pleasant.

    There is no real American medical consensus on the merits of routine infant circumcision. In other medically advanced countries, there is a consensus: against.

    The recent African clinical trials tell us nothing about whether it is a good thing to routinely circumcise a baby born in an advanced economy. In an African village, there are no toilets, no clean water, no showers, no bidets. There are bizarre sexual beliefs and practices. They do not see marriage as requiring fidelity. The village store does not stock condoms. If it does, few people buy them. Finally, the clinical trials were not run long enough to address the possibility that circ only delays infection. It is a bald fact that there are fewer STDs in intact Europe and Japan than in the cut USA.

    The pain of American routine infant circumcision is completely unnecessary: inject lidocaine into the penis and wait 10 minutes before cutting. To circumcise without lidocaine should be grounds for a lawsuit. But if the doctor absolutely refuses to use lidocaine, that is a good reason not to cut.

    The vast majority of Americans who are circumcised were not done because their parents evaluated the “evidence” in good faith. Before Wiswell began reporting his data dredging on circ and UTI, there was not a shred of valid evidence in the literature supporting routine infant circumcision. This is the conclusion of the first intactivist book, Wallerstein (1980).

    Americans are a circumcised people for historical and sociological reasons, starting with “never underestimate barefaced conformity as a driver behind human choices.”
    There are two scholarly books on the history and sociology of routine circumcision among the English speaking peoples, by Gollaher and Robert Darby. I doubt that those books are the last word. But I will say this: circ definitely appealed to several generations of upper middle class mothers and the doctors they consulted. Thus circ quickly became a permanent mark of better origins. Parents cut their kids to make them look more upscale, more sophisticated.

    Also, never underestimate the squeamishness and prudishness of American parents. A hygienically sophisticated mother has to pay some attention to her son’s foreskin, find out when it can retract and then teach her boy to wash under it. I can assure you that many USA mothers in the last century did not like having to think about Junior’s penis.

    Marriage manuals and childrearing books 40-60 years ago said little more about circumcision than that it prevented the accumulation of smegma, and smegma was just soooo gross, you know? That you can skin it back in the shower and wash away the smegma in 3 seconds was never mentioned.

    Published scientific research is never final, and less decisive than some posters seem to think, especially on a subjects with a strong sexual and sociological context. One will never understand American RIC if one insists on thinking about only as a urological or STD prevention measure to be justified or not by clinical trials.

    Is Wikipedia a bad source on this and other topics? It’s not perfect, but it’s often better than a lot of the typeset material I read.

  49. Why are mothers the ones making this decision? I love my mother as much as anyone, but as a teenage boy if I could have one wish it would be for my foreskin back. I know my parents only had my best interests in mind but it still affects me. I wish I could have made the decision for myself, it’s my penis not my parents’. Thank you Daphne, I have done extensive research on this subject in an attempt to reach some closure. You are the first person who just goes out and says it isn’t right, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Alice, I appreciate that you took the time to at least think about it. My father also had a Jewish background. Of course after he married a christian girl he was less involved in family affairs. I don’t know if he ever considered that his son might grow up not to be Jewish. I am not in a position to talk to him about it. I don’t understand why it is the parents making the decision at birth, if a urinary tract infection rises then maybe it is necessary. If it isn’t why not let the boy make the decision when he is old enough? Also Alice, I hate to break it too you but if you read your history, one of the uses of circumcision was to lessen sexual pleasure and discourage masturbation. To make men less promiscuous, and to insure that women did not have orgasms. While this is known to be less true today, it is no less genital mutilation then the removal of the clitoris. While the technical tissue equivalent is the removal of the entire glans, is it any less rape if he only puts it in half way? My foreskin was completely removed, the whole thing. I’ve learned recently that it isn’t necessary even within Judaism to remove it all. Why my parents did this to me, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll talk to them about it after I’ve grown out of just being insecure about it.

  50. Upset Son:

    Mothers make the decision because 120 years ago, circumcision became a part of hospital birth for families that were financially comfortable. The creation of Medicaid in the 1960s made hospital birth with male circumcision well nigh universal. Because anesthesia was more dangerous back in the day, the protocol became to cut boys when they were too young to resist or remember. Doing it without anesthesia has become so deeply ingrained that a majority of American doctors still do not inject lidocaine before circumcising a newborn.

    “I wish I could have made the decision for myself, it’s my penis not my parents’.”
    The intactivist argument in one sentence!

    “You are the first person who just goes out and says it isn’t right, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
    Rosemary Romberg made this argument in a magazine article published in 1978. Many other lay people have since walked in her footsteps.

    “I don’t know if he ever considered that his son might grow up not to be Jewish.”
    Many secular and Reform fathers married to gentiles consider their children to be Jews.

    “I am not in a position to talk to him about it.”
    My father died when I was 40. We had NEVER talked about circumcision.

    “… if you read your history, one of the uses of circumcision was to lessen sexual pleasure and discourage masturbation. To make men less promiscuous…”
    Such was indeed the beliefs in those benighted days…

    “…and to insure that women did not have orgasms.”
    You are mistaken here. It was universally believed before the 1990s, that circumcision had no effect on women’s satisfaction from intercourse, because the foreskin vanishes when the foreskin becomes erect. We know better now, in good part because experienced women are willing to blog their sex lives..

    “My foreskin was completely removed, the whole thing. I’ve learned recently that it isn’t necessary even within Judaism to remove it all. Why my parents did this to me, I don’t know.”
    You were cut along with about 100 million American and Canadian baby boys born last century. The vast majority of these boys were not Jewish at all. In the American mind, especially in the middle and upper classes, the glans of the penis was expected to be fully visible 24/7. The natural penis was seen as bizarre and disgusting.

    “Maybe I’ll talk to them about it after I’ve grown out of just being insecure about it.”
    If your parents are completely unaware of the rise of intactivism in USA parenting, this conversation could prove very difficult and defensive.

    I agree that to condemn all alteration of the female genitalia, while endorsing routine circumcision, is an ethical fail.

  51. Tim:

    When it comes to evaluating the merits and demerits of circumcision, an ounce of common sense is worth a metric ton of medical “evidence.” I am an academic, and can assure you that “peer review” is NOT tantamount to “truth.”

    The foreskin and frenulum are the most sexual parts of the male body, by virtue of their location and ennervation. This sexual property is the essence of their function.

    The WHO’s recommendation was limited to eastern and southern Africa, where HIV is rampant. That recommendation is grounded in clinical trials that were conducted in a manner I deem a scientific scandal.

    When it comes to human sexuality, doctors are indeed often ignorant. For starters, not a single USA medical school includes a course on human sexuality.

    Only two western societies routinely circumcise a large fraction of every age cohort for supposed prophylactic reasons: South Korea (which does it middle and high school age) and the USA. For me, that speaks much more loudly than the WHO or dubious and tendentious articles in American medical journals. If the natural penis is unhealthy, the European and Japanese experience would prove very revealing.

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