Thursday, August 30, 2012

Confessions of an Ex-Minion

I guess its a sign of the times when you get all emotionally fraught about leaving a Facebook group... but I do.  And I always feel so weird about feeling so sad about it.  It's just a Facebook group.  But they can become addictive and cliquish.  They can be a great way to connect and bond with people over an interest.

Or they can suck you into pointless arguments and show you the worst side of people you thought you respected.


I had to leave Dr Amy's Fed Up group that I've been with for... awhile.  Nearly two years I guess.  I'm done giving birth though (I'm pretty sure) and I think I'm done hearing about dead home birth babies.  I feel the need to move on anyway.  But I just can't stomach the pro-circumcision voices in that group, including Dr. Amy herself.  She recently lauded the AAP statement in disgustingly hyperbolic terms, making claims about circumcision far beyond what the AAP was even willing to say.  It's NOT some simple, safe, or effective miracle cure or prevention for anything.  The AAP made the most minimally positive statement about it that they could in order to encourage insurance providers to keep paying or resume paying pediatricians to perform circumcisions.  That's about it.  Their member pediatricians were having trouble getting reimbursed for something classified as wholly cosmetic and non-therapeutic by this organization, so they tried to back peddle JUUUST enough to get the money to flow again.  They had to really grasp at straws and junk science to do so.  Dr. Amy made much more out of the statement than was really there, and admitted she takes a lot of flak for her position on circumcision.  She just loves it, apparently.  Loves it.  It prevents AIDS and cancer and UTIs and the whole rank and file of usual suspects.  She didn't mention paralysis or masturbation or epilepsy or any of the old school things it used to cure/prevent.

I think I know where she's coming from.  As an OB she almost certainly performed them.  As a softie for babies she had to know the pain she was causing and she had to make herself believe it was for the greater good.  As a mother, she likely had son(s)? circumcised.  As a human being, she is now only seeking out confirming information, so this revision from the AAP was a wonderful relief to hear.  She was not harming babies after all.  Maybe some doubts had crept in from time to time, but we can sweep all that aside, its official.  The AAP is wildly in favor of circumcision; the question of harm/benefit is therefore settled.  We can't pick and choose what stances of an esteemed scientific body we agree with or don't.  It's science.

Except that in the post RIGHT BEFORE she calls out the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for bad recommendations on midwifery and she claims its all about money.  Basically the same reasons I rail against the AAP for their stance on circ.  Check the bullet points.  Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes those are all very similar to the complaints lodged against the AAP this week by intactivists so no complaining about picking and choosing.  Any skeptic would and should question authority, even medical authorities... who are actually really trade associations when you come right down to it, and sometimes they act that way.

I interact well with lots of people who disagree with me on circumcision.  We can agree to disagree and we can simply not discuss it, or if we do, we can discuss the issue and not resort to name calling nonsense and personal attacks.  I hit hard on the issue of circumcision.  The practice insults my soul.  But I attack the practice and the ideas behind it, not the people.  Well, except for the advocates of it.  But - I think mothers who have done it to their babies and many doctors who've performed it for various reasons can be victims of the practice as much as the boys are.

And if you really think about it, circumcision probably causes much more harm than home birth and natural birth advocacy.  Home birth is a fringe-y extremist thing to do.  A fraction of a percent, a handful of deaths.  Circumcision is still suffered by some 50% of American baby boys, killing as many or more baby boys as SIDS in the time frame that they are at greatest risk.  But just as home birth deaths are under reported and misreported, circumcision deaths are almost always attributed to things not called "circumcision" on a death certificate.  Like septic shock and hemorrhage.  Not to mention the men suffering in silence from shameful complications.  Some are not so silent anymore.

I can deal with people who disagree with me.  I don't think I can deal with an advocate.  Especially an advocate who purports to be a skeptic and scientifically minded.  She of all people should know better.  She can spot junk science when she sees it - and when it recommends home birth.  But rather than accepting a little cognitive dissonance and admitting circumcision is actually wrong after all in spite of what she believed in the past, she has doubled down.  I can't respect that.  I understand it, but I don't respect it.     

So I left the group.  If you see circumcision the way I do, its just not something a nice person would want to associate themselves with.

PS: It may or may not be material that Dr. Amy is Jewish. But she was curiously silent when I tried to establish common ground that we could at least oppose circumcision by laypeople in non-medical environments on the same grounds we oppose home birth by CPMs. In other words, the obviously unsafe practice of mohels performing circumcisions in homes and temples. Many Jews now have it done in hospitals by doctors who are also mohels. I thought we could at least agree on that. Nope.

1 comment:

  1. I left the group quite awhile ago. Not because of anything relating to circumcision, but because the group as a whole (not necessarily everyone in the group, but the group as a whole) is the complete opposite of all of the NCB "crazies" and not in a good way.... They are just as far to the left as the NCB advocates are to the right... They make fun and belittle things just like the NCB advocates do. Sadly there's just not a happy medium in the birth world that I've found yet - you either are so far left or so far right and it's hard to find a good middle ground group...

    FWIW, I can understand many of the points you've made in this piece and I too share your feelings on circumcision - it's just not why I left the group... In fact, this all must have gone down after I was long gone!