Dean Edell on the Circumcision Debate

Here are two Jewish radio men discussing circumcision. In one corner is Dr. Dean Edell who has a weekday health call-in show and is on record calling circumcision child abuse.

In the other corner is Bill Handel, who is best known for a legal advice call-in show, but who is also the founder and president of the Center for Surrogate Parenting. This clip appears to be from a current events program Handel also hosts to a local audience in Los Angeles.

Dean Edell does a great job of dispatching with the usual medical arguments made by non-doctors.


12 Responses to “Dean Edell on the Circumcision Debate”

  1. anjii says:

    LOVE IT!!!! He rolls up all the best arguments into one easy to understand package! Great way to spread the word to all the masses who don’t take the time to properly research life-changing decisions like this. Thanks for sharing :)

    July 10th, 2009 at 3:17 pm

  2. anonymous says:

    I listen to both Dr Dean and Handel, but I’d never heard this conversation between the two of them.

    We circumcised our son because it was important to my husband, who is also circumcised, that my son look like him. I was completely against circumcision but in the end, I agreed to having it done. In retrospect, I think I was way too casual about the topic, which is something that still really bothers me, even to this day. (Had I insisted that we not do it, my husband would have been ok with that decision.)

    My son healed quickly after the procedure and did not have any complications and hasn’t had any problems since (he’s 4 now) but I regret not being more of an advocate for him by insisting that we not have him circumcised.

    Circumcision is *completely* medically unnecessary and as with any procedure, complications can occur.

    I’m not one of those people who believes that the circumcision procedure itself has traumatized my child for life (nothing against those who do believe that, I’m just explaining my perspective), I just feel that as with any medical procedure, complications can occur so why take the risk??!?!!?

    Allowing my son to be circumcised is the biggest regret that I have in my life. That may sound crazy to some and I’m really not trying to be overly dramatic, but immediately afterwards I felt that my baby needed me to make a medical decision on his behalf and that I’d made the wrong choice. I should have gone with my gut instinct and really advocated for him rather than agreeing to it to appease my husband.

    July 10th, 2009 at 4:04 pm

  3. Kimbelry says:

    Great post today. I am pregnant and am on many message boards. This debate comes up all the time, mostly I stay out of it because I tend to say inflammatory things… as I am very against circumcision. I think from here on out I will just post this link and let them decide for themselves.

    Interesting that both these men are Jewish. Since I’m not a religious person I get frustrated with the argument that “I’m jewish so we circ”… I respect one’s religion, but it still makes me sad that this happens. Again I will post this link and leave it at that.

    July 10th, 2009 at 5:53 pm

  4. Caroline says:

    There are many resources addressing the religious angle. Despite common thought, circumcision is not universal among Jewish or Muslim people

    “Cut: Slicing Through the Myths of Circumcision”

    “Jewish Women Against Circumcision”

    “Jewish Mother on Circumcision”

    “mumy.. I don’t want circumcision – ??? …??? ?? ???? ???? ????

    Muslim resources:

    ?????? ????? ???? ??????? … ??? ??? ??????

    July 11th, 2009 at 2:37 am

  5. Jennifer says:

    anonymous, this broadcast happened a few years back, I remember hearing it on the way into work one morning. I too, listen to both of them regularly.

    From a religious standpoint, I would say that, if/when the decision is put in front of me, I would have to look at my spiritual direction to guide me in that decision. There are reasons (as with everything done in a Church) for the practice.

    I’m not saying I would blindly follow what they say, but that I would definitely have to research and make a decision based on what I know both in and outside of religious viewpoints.

    Taking the religion out of it? Nope, wouldn’t do it. I don’t see the purpose other than religious stand point…and there is a deep religious meaning so I must respect that.

    July 11th, 2009 at 8:44 am

  6. LooneyJen says:

    Thanks for posting this. I’m about to have our first boy and have researched the heck out of this. It’s a highly inflammatory issue. My husband, interestingly, has given me final say on the matter.

    He initially stated that it’s important to him that his son looks like him. But seriously? The kid’s pen*s isn’t going to look like his fathers for YEARS. My daughters’ ladybits don’t look a lot like mine at this point and that doesn’t bother either of us. I find that to be a rather humorous argument now.

    July 11th, 2009 at 11:49 am

  7. Angelique says:

    Neither of our boys are circumcised. This radio bit very successfully summed up everything we researched before our first son. My hubby says the whole “looking like dad” thind is just silly; we both agreed that IF our boys even think to ask that question, then we’ll just explain that when Daddy was little, doctors thought circumcision was something we needed to do to stay healthy, but now we know better. If they’re older, we can go into how some people do it for religious reasons. Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to be a big issue. I’m from the Midwest. Out of curiosity, I asked the hospital what percentage of boys are circumcised and they told me it’s less than half at this point. I really don’t think my boys are going to have any issues. We’re happy with our decision; I can’t imagine putting my newborns through something so painful and unneccessary.

    July 11th, 2009 at 5:58 pm

  8. Jen says:

    I couldn’t even watch the whole thing- I was too infuriated. Not at circumcision, but at the implication that these two men represent the Jewish community in any way. The text of the clip, plus waht they were saying is basically anti-circ propoganda. I have been to many brisses and the baby isn’t being mutilated. And I have never met a Jewish man who felt that it was a problem. IF you don’t want to circ, don’t. But it is a minor procedure that doesn’t cause any lasting problems.

    July 13th, 2009 at 10:20 am

  9. AJ says:

    Jen, for what it’s worth, what you dub propaganda I consider to be valid reasons I chose not to mutilate my son. I’m sorry if “mutilate” is a flash word, but that is honestly what I consider it to be when a good chunk of the most sensitive part of the penis is cut off. Remember, what seems like a small bit of skin on a baby isn’t small potatoes once the kid is grown.

    The fact that the two speakers are Jewish is relevant only for pointing out that even among people who circumcise for religious reasons, there are some beginning to doubt the teaching.

    July 13th, 2009 at 10:27 am

  10. anastasiav says:

    I just want to respond to one thing:

    Circumcision is *completely* medically unnecessary and as with any procedure, complications can occur.

    My son was not Circ’d at birth, however it became apparent as an infant that he was born with a condition called Phimosis, where the opening of the Foreskin is extremely tight. In my son’s case, it was so tight that it impeded the exit of urine, and urine would actually get caught between the foreskin and the penis, at times swelling his foreskin to the size of a lemon. He had repeated UTIs and was on precautionary antibiotics for four months. He underwent a partial circumcision (under anesthesia) at nine months.

    As you can imagine, I’m of two minds on this topic. Certainly, my son’s case is an “edge case” — in most cases where Phimosis needs to be resolved surgically, the surgery happens much later — typically during adolescence or young adulthood — and its done simply because the opening of the foreskin is too small to allow the penis to exit. In my son’s case, however, had we had him circumcised at birth (my husband’s preference), it would have saved him months and months of discomfort, and months and months of daily antibiotics. (My fear is that his early long term exposure to antibiotics will make them less effective when he gets older.) But there was no way to know this was a problem — until it was.

    So I agree with you that the routine circumcision of newborns is unnecessary, but I must also point out that a blanket statement like “circumcision is *completely* medically unnecessary” is completely wrong. For some children, in some situations, circumcision is medically necessary.

    July 13th, 2009 at 12:19 pm

  11. anonymous says:

    “So I agree with you that the routine circumcision of newborns is unnecessary, but I must also point out that a blanket statement like “circumcision is *completely* medically unnecessary” is completely wrong. For some children, in some situations, circumcision is medically necessary.”

    You’re right, that was poorly worded on my part. I’m sorry to hear about your son; I hope he’s doing better now.

    July 15th, 2009 at 7:40 pm

  12. Celeste says:

    If we all wanted our kids to look like us, we would teach them to smoke and drink, so that they would be little mirror images. Get over that idea and realize this isn’t about you and your selfishness, but about the health and happiness of your child! We didn’t circ for just those reasons.

    August 3rd, 2009 at 9:31 am

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