Dr. Sears Please Educate Parents about Circumcision

 Circumcision is not in line with Attachment Parenting.  It interferes with birth bonding, breastfeeding, infant sleep, and belief in baby’s cries.  It is painful, medically unnecessary and welcomes our newest citizens by violating a basic human right. This is an open letter to Dr. William and Martha Sears- the couple who coined the term, and promote the principles, of Attachment Parenting.  We are asking them to Please Educate Parents about Circumcision.

GLoria Lemay quoteDear Dr. Bill and Martha Sears,

We are writing to you today as a unified community requesting that you add an 8th principle to your “Baby B’s”.  “Be Confident Keeping your Baby Whole” should be added to your list of Attachment Parenting principles.  Not only is circumcision medically unnecessary, painful and irreversible, it is not in line with Attachment Parenting.

Circumcision interferes with 4 of the 7 “Baby B’s”:

  1. Birth bonding (baby is taken from his mothers arms to have a painful procedure done)
  2. Belief in baby’s cries (if we believe baby’s cries, we will stop circumcision)
  3. Breastfeeding
  4. Infant Sleep

What we are asking of you requires that you stand against many medical doctors, and that you make a statement that opposes a recent decision by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It would be an unpopular decision and some might be angry with you.  We know.

Children’s rights advocates have made great strides in reducing the number of circumcisions performed in the USmore than 45% of families are now keeping their sons whole, circumcision rates are falling in Canada, and we need one final push.  We have laid the ground work and set the stage. Now we need both of you.

Many of those who are endorsing this letter have practiced attachment parenting, and wish they had learned the truth about circumcision before it was too late. Ending  the forced circumcision of infants will bring about deep social change.  Join us in taking the final step to educate people so that our newest citizens have a safe and nurturing welcome to the world.

Please add the 8th Baby B:  “Be Confident Keeping your Baby Whole” to your Attachment Parenting Principles.  Do this so that mothers do not have to feel the pain that I feel, and so that babies are not subject to an unnecessary, painful cosmetic procedure.  This “welcome” to the world is not in line with Attachment Parenting, and violates a most basic human right.  It is time that we let our country know.

This request is written in partnership with The WHOLE Network and is endorsed by Marilyn Milos, Founder and Director of NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Infant Resource Centers),as well as by DOC (Doctors Opposing Circumcision), Intact America, Genital Autonomy- USA and Kira Antinuk of CHHRP (Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership).

We have created a petition which holds the signatures of many concerned parents so that you understand how many people will support you.

Signed with warmth and Gratitude,

Jennifer Andersen                      Lauren Jenks
Founder, Our Muddy Boots        Founder, The Whole Network    

Larissa Black                           Sarah Kesslers                         Aubrey Bryk
Director, The Whole Network  Director, The Whole Network   Director, The Whole Network

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. -Elie WieselWith

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Thank you for your time.

27 Replies to “Dr. Sears Please Educate Parents about Circumcision”

  1. If you want to be intactivists, fine. Be intactivists. You have a set of beliefs regarding foreskins; as an observant Jew, my beliefs are different.

    If you want to advocate your position, have fun. Good for you. Wish you luck. But asking that intactivism be included as an official tennent of attachment parenting does nothing but alienate every observant Jewish family from practicing attachment parenting at all.

    The Sears’ already strongly caution against circing, but allow for the idea that other people have different beliefs on this issue. That really should be enough.

    (Yes, I’ve heard of bris shalom. No, it is not permitted by Jewish law.)

    • I’m sorry, but whether or not you are Jewish should not justify circumcising your children. My parents are Christian, but I am not…if there was some physical alteration required for female infants born to Christians and they had done it to me I can honestly say I would feel angry and violated that they permanently marked my body for a god I don’t even believe in, even if it DIDN’T permanently change the way my genitals look, feel and function. Which is what male circumcision does. Children aren’t both with any religion, any male who wishes to be circumcised to express his Jewish heritage/faith at 18 will certainly be able to. Males who wouldn’t, but whose parents had it done to them can never fully reverse it.

      Sorry that doesn’t comply with Jewish law, but following Jewish law in this instance violates basic human rights. Doing this for ANY reason other than medical necessity violates basic human rights.

      • Jessica,

        This is the point that I think is so important and just genuinely missed- let the decision be made at 18. We need to keep sharing and educating so that people understand this as a basic human rights violation.

        Thank you so much for being here.

    • I don’t think that this addition should alienate anyone who has a valid reason to circumcise. Most of the people I have asked do not even know why they are submitting their children to this. It is not performed in accordance with Biblical tradition. It removes more tissue than Hebrew circumcision. No one forces you to adhere to Attachment Parenting. If it is at odds with your religious belifes, don’t follow it. In general, this would be a good addition to AP, it will save boys from a surgery done for spurious reasons that prevents them from having a religious circumcision if they ever convert.

      • The circumcision of the Bible was not a total amputation – it was cutting off the very tip! The Hebrew word for circumcision literally means “to blunt”. And I’m sorry, but anyone who teaches that total amputation is now or was ever commanded by God is a false teacher. More and more Jewish families are choosing not to circumcise. It’s not a necessity to the Jewish faith.

      • Kari,

        Agreed. The caveat here of course is that there are a rare few “valid” reasons to circumcise. We need to keep people informed about this.

        Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

    • i’m all for people having religion and religious practices if they want. AND- i believe your (anyone’s) religious rights END where other peoples’ rights BEGIN… like your child’s rights. your child’s right to choice- to choose his religion (maybe your kid won’t BE jewish..? that’s not required, you know.), or choose to alter their body in any way? you can cut one off as an adult, gluing it back on is rather different. i can’t believe anyone would stand behind religious beliefs and say cutting off pieces of their kid is their right.

      could i please have you address female genital mutilation? do you believe the parents have the right to decide that for their girls?

      • Sara,

        I agree that it is important to continue to point out the horrible double standard of protecting our girls but not our boys. It is nonsensical. We must start standing up for our boys.

    • I personally am against all RIC, but that said, IF you MUST circumcise for your religion, follow the original circumcision. It was merely 1-2 mm at the tip of the foreskin. It allowed for the glands to still be covered and no function to be lost. I’m hearing a lot more from my Jewish friends that them and their friends are choosing to do this for their children. I know it’s still not perfect, and some say that it’s still wrong, which I agree, but it’s better than the alternative. It makes things okee doke with G-d, the crazy family, and most importantly, allows the baby boys to keep a very important, highly functioning part of their bodies.

    • Elisheva,

      I know we have talked about this before and I am glad you are still here 🙂 This is such a difficult subject and I cannot imagine being in your position- accepting that RIC is wrong would challenge your entire belief system. Change is occurring and I believe that soon the pressure will no longer be on you to decide or defend, because the ritual will be different.


    • Elisheva, Shalom achoti! I am also an observant Jew, and I also share your name. 🙂 However, I cannot agree with you as to your thoughts on circumcision. I believe that G-d instituted circumcision as a way of setting His people apart, but given how many other cultures and religions have adopted this practice, it is no longer a means of setting apart. Like many other commandments once practiced by Jews (that have now been set aside) there is now no more compelling religious or cultural reason to do so. I have a now-adult son for whom we had a “Brit Shalom” (no cutting) when he was eight days old, and we gave him the option of choosing to be circumcised at the time of his Bar Mitzvah. We discussed the pros and cons, and gave him many differing opinions on the subject. He chose not to circumcise. This doesn’t make him any less Jewish or any less observant. He is a respected young man at Shul, involved in many different areas and loved by all. I do not regret my decision at all to let him make his own choice, and it is my hope that other Jewish parents will also consider a Brit Shalom as a viable alternative to Brit Milah.

      • I admire your respect for your son in allowing him to make his own decision when he was old enough to understand the consequences. I’m sure he is very thank full.

  2. Freedom of Religion means no one can force their beliefs on you or take yours away. It does not extend beyond your own body. Saying its your religion does not make it acceptable to cut off another person’s body part. If someone said its my religion as a sacrifice for my God to cut off one of my children’s ears, would that be acceptable? Of course not! So why is it acceptable to alter a little boy’s body for NO medical purpose, for his parents religion, and risk his life(many boys die every year from this procedure) if your child chooses to be his parents religion when he grow up he can choose to make the sacrifice of losing a body part. No one else gets to decide that or HE loses HIS freedom of religion.

    • Kat,

      I agree with you on every single point. I also think that unless you are observant and have your life invested entirely in a particular religion it is hard for us to imagine what it is like to challenge such an historic and ingrained ritual. This is why we must keep sharing, informing and educating; about the true history of religious circumcision, the function of the foreskin and the pain felt during and following a circumcision. We must appeal to mothers and fathers from one parent to another.

      I am so glad that you are here, Kat. Thank you!

  3. I have worked with the Sears for many decades and they have been well familiar with my work opposing circumcision as far back as the 1980’s when there were just a few of us. She is wholly supportive of us, he seems to be more wishy-washy on the subject. They have a large family (I believe now grown up. If I recall correctly they have 2 or 3 older sons who were circumcised back when virtually no one questioned it, and they have a couple of younger sons who were left intact. I’m surprised that they would be posing any difficulty for us now, but maybe they’re trying to come across neutral to be more acceptable to the general public?

    • Rosemary,

      I do not have an answer for you. This is an opportunity to spread accurate information to unsuspecting parents (as I was). It is not intended to suggest that the Sears are not doing work to save baby boys- just as a call to do more. Given the atrocious and deplorable decision of the AAP this year, people need to take a strong stand. Those who have greater influence need to take a greater stand.

      Thank you both for being here and for all of the work that you do, Rosemary.

  4. It was The Birth Book by Dr. and Mrs. Sears that first convinced me not to circumcise because “no circumcision if baby is a boy” was included in the sample birth plans in the back of the book. So I do commend them on that, but I do agree that a stronger stance opposing circumcision is needed now to help combat the AAP nonsense.
    And yes, the right to practice your religion ends where another person’s body begins. I can’t believe that is not obvious. Culture and religion can evolve over time, and now is the time to end this barbaric practice for both boys and girls.

  5. I think the problem is that since parents are being given the “decision” to circumcise their baby boys…… then it is in their hands. I don’t believe that any parent should have the legal right to consent to unnecessary genital alteration surgery on any minor child, but as long as girls are protected from genital cutting and boys are not, the decision sadly still rests with parents. Religion is a whole other complication for some, but honestly if a parent looks logically at infant circumcision and the fact that this surgical procedure is medically unnecessary….. I can’t believe that parents would cling to ancient religious rituals instead of facts. That said, I know many do just this. I don’t see why it would be a problem to add that to the attachment parenting values, though, since it is true…… but he still has to acknowledge that it is a parents decision. That’s the sad part. Hopefully one day that will change. Many Jewish families are choosing not to circumcise….thanks to Beyond the Bris and JewsAgainstCircumcision. What could be more beautiful than a peaceful naming ceremony for infant boys and girls that does NOT involve an assault on their tiny little bodies that are both normal and healthy? Parents should be able to logically answer this question.

    • Exactly right!!!! One persons religion ends where another persons body begins. Parents can take their children to their church and teach them their religion…..that is a parents decision….but carving that religion into the bodies of normal infants cannot be tolerated. Jewish males can decide for themselves if they want to circumcise themselves when they are at an age of consent. In the U.S. that age is 18 years old. There is no reason to force this on a newborn.

  6. I’ve been mulling over this since you posted, and I have to say, I disagree with anything about circumcision becoming a “new” AP principle. I could probably write a novel as to why, but I think what it comes down to is this: including it as a tenet of AP *reduces it to a parenting decision.* Attachment parenting, however noble and gentle and respectful, is still simply a parenting philosophy. I was always under the assumption you considered it to be a human rights issue, not a parenting issue. Make sense?

    • VERY interesting Momma. I am going to think about that. The intension here was, of course, to inform. I see what you are saying though. Maybe the question then becomes; which is of greater effectiveness?

      In reality I do believe that babies have a right to have all of their needs met.

      I’m interested to see some other responses.

      • I Guess the question becomes…. Is it a need for an infant to be spared unnecessary trauma by undergoing a “parent elective” surgical procedure that removes a normal functional part of his body??? My answer would be YES …. Any unnecessary trauma to the baby would be a legitimate need for the baby to not be subjected to it. I know it causes issues with respect to some religions …. BUT this is not about religion… It’s about meeting the important needs of the infant.

  7. While I agree that circumcision is a human right issue not a parenting choice, the wording here “be confident” is a choice.