Sarah wrote to a birth email list:
Just a question to everyone. What is your position on circumcision? Do you try to talk your clients out of it? If you feel strongly against it, would you make it a condition of your practice not to take on clients who plan to do it?
Hi Sarah, I speak to EVERYONE about ending circumcision. The only people who cut the genitals of infant boys are those who do not have all the facts. It’s a matter of education. It’s also a human rights issue. The question to ask clients is:
“Do you plan to leave a boy intact?” If the clients say “Yes, I want my son kept intact”, it’s important to give them information about not EVER retracting the foreskin. The boy should be the only one doing that. There’s a very good information pamphlet at http://www.circumstitions.com/Itsaboy.html
If the parents say “Yes, I plan to cut my son’s genitals”, it’s important to find out what their reasoning is. You can then direct them to this video which explains the role and function of the foreskin:
http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/video/prepuce.html There are websites for Jewish and Muslim parents to support them in keeping their son intact and more and more religious families are abolishing this cruel and archaic practice.
I have an email list called firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone wants to join a support list for professionals where we share resources to protect baby boys.
Sarah wrote in reply: I’m new to being a doula and this is the one thing I’m most nervous about–when I get a client, and I can’t change their mind what do I do?
I had a hard time when I started out doing childbirth work especially when people were religious. It was a matter of getting informed and more confident as I went along. I learned a lot from being on the forums at www.mothering.com
Have you checked out their discussions at “The Case Against Circumcision”–the men and women there were really great at educating me and now I have no hesitation even going toe to toe with Jewish grandmothers–the most formidable of all!
There are two expressions that come up there a lot:
1. Circumcision, the more you know, the worse it gets.
2. (When women say they’ll let their cut husband make the decision) YOU are the only one in the family with intact genitals so it’s YOU who should decide.
Thanks for caring enough to be scared. We have a lot of work to do to turn the tide on male genital mutilation and each and every birth worker makes a difference.
I’m so glad to hear that.
I guess what I’ll do is just take everybody, and try to show them the light every step of the way.
If they don’t like it, they can find another doula 🙂 that way, I’ll know I tried.. . . .it seems like such a cop-out to turn a client away, right?
that’s right, you never know what will change someone’s mind. I like to tell the resistant ones “If you’re going to do that, you’ll have to drive over my body which will be in front of your car tires as you leave the house.” I don’t make bad friends with people if they do it. I just had clients who cut their first two sons against my strong objections and kept their third son intact. I think that third boy would have been cut, too, if I wasn’t in their lives.
Thank you so much! it’s been so hard to get a straight answer out of other midwives and doulas I know. Most of the responses are along the lines of, “present the info, let the parents decide”, etc. and I know I couldn’t do that–be “unattached” that is. That’s wonderful about the 3rd boy.
I think that’s the kind of story I needed to hear–that it’s better to keep trying, because you never know what will sway someone or at what point.
I’m HONORED you want to use our conversation on your blog as an example! I hope it will help others like me who need encouragement.