Letters for February 9, 2012

Circumcision controversy

Re “Ritual Under Fire” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Graham, Feb. 2,): Prior to the 1980s the myth prevailed that newborn babies were incapable of experiencing pain. The truth is that an infant’s response to a painful stimulus is more intense and prolonged and affects a larger body area than in adults.

In more than 95 percent of the baby boys, the outer skin of the foreskin is adhered to the penis at birth. Over time, in the course of maturation and usually by the age of 5, the foreskin separates cleanly from the penis. In the course of the amputation of the foreskin (circumcision), it is forcibly torn from the penis. Research has demonstrated that infants that survive this unnecessary surgery commonly show the classic signs of shock and trauma, e.g. overstimulation of the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system.

The use of anesthesia is controversial, since perinates are generally incapable of metabolizing anesthetizing agents. More than 90 percent of circumcisions are performed without any anesthesia, even topical.

The effects of the trauma tend to interfere with breastfeeding and bonding with the mother, while causing reduced sensitivity to the penis, which impairs adult sexual functioning. To our great detriment, this material is not taught in most medical schools in the United States. Prior to the 1990s, there was no mention of the foreskin in any standard textbook. Although improved, modern medical textbooks still omit the full facts about the abundant supply of blood and nerves in the healthy, intact penis.

Because of the educational efforts of activists, the rate of circumcision has been steadily dropping as Americans are learning about the normal functioning of this part of male anatomy.

In light of current knowledge, there remains no valid excuse to continue this barbaric religious practice. What is needed now is a consistent respect for the human right to genital integrity for our sons and well as our daughters.

Norma Wilcox RN

As someone who speaks out against the dangerous and potentially deadly practice of routine infant circumcision, I am shocked at the lack of balance shown in your journalism! Maybe you weren’t aware that Chico has a local activist group [Intact Chico] that dedicates time to spreading awareness of routine circumcision as a human-rights violation. I would expect any reporter to seek out the viewpoint of such a group when gathering opinions on this subject. The only parent you spoke to was in favor of routine circumcision, and was a rabbi. Big surprise there.

This type of unbalanced, biased reporting is not only unprofessional, but is also a complete disservice to young parents-to-be, who may not have all the resources needed to make an informed decision.

I would suggest that you make a greater effort to seek the perspective of both sides of an issue before publishing articles in the future.

Rose Thulin

United States citizens do not have the right to force their religious convictions on other humans within this country. I would argue a bloody surgery that forcibly strips a functional part of another person’s body away because of what someone else believes is in violation of the law. You have lost a reader, knowing now what you leave out.

Peter Netherton

My Jewish family has ended the barbaric torture of its 8-day-old sons. My 95-year-old mother still recalls the horror my brothers endured. She is grateful I do not live with those memories, as her grandsons are whole and, yes, Jewish.

Karen Goldis
South Pasadena

One man’s vendetta

Re “More on Dolan’s new job” (Letters, Feb. 2): I see that Rick Clements is continuing his decades-long vendetta against Jane Dolan. How sad. For years this man has been writing the most mean-spirited, bile-filled letters criticizing Jane on just about everything she has ever done. I don’t think he could say anything good about her if she saved him from drowning.

His criticism of her for taking a position on the [flood protection board] is just as wrong-headed as any of his previous comments. I can’t think of another person who has done more for our area than Jane Dolan, and you can rest assured that she will do a great job in her new position.

Charles W. Bird

Glad for the support

Re “What did Aaron do for you?” (Letters, by Jennifer Benjamin, Feb. 2): Ms. Benjamin’s letter is about how Chico has come to idolize and claim Aaron Rodgers as its local hero. She ends by saying, “The true heroes are the men and women who serve in the military.” I just want to say thank you to her.

As a U.S. Marine who was born and raised in Chico, it means the world to me and everyone else I know serving that someone appreciates what we do. The fury that builds inside me every time I make the drive to Chico and have to see the sign that says “home of Aaron Rodgers” is incredible.

Aaron Rodgers is a beacon of hope for what you can achieve in life, but he does not represent this town anymore. He’s a professional athlete paid large sums of money to represent Green Bay, and that’s the simple fact of the matter. We don’t want a sign or a parade or anything crazy; all we want is to know we have your support. And it’s the greatest feeling to know that we have the support of at least one. Thank you.

Lucas Merritt
Camp Pendleton

Start school later

As the parent of a high-school student, I want the CUSD board to know that I am in favor of starting school Aug. 29. Let’s not set the start date based on assumed benefit to an extremely small percentage of the CUSD population.

High-school principals point out that 72 students are concurrently enrolled in college courses and high school. There are 11,837 students in the CUSD, so these concurrently enrolled students account for less than 1 percent of the population. Setting the school start and end dates based on some perceived convenience to less than 1 percent is absurd.

Further, Chico State and Butte started Aug. 22 this year, 12 days after CUSD started. If I could imagine that it would be wise to set the start date based on these concurrently enrolled students, we should be making the start date later, not earlier.

Starting Aug. 29 helps younger children transition back into school, helps young children get adequate sleep, and still benefits high-school students because they can complete finals before winter break. It’s a win-win-win date for everyone.

Please set Aug. 29 as the school start date.

Robin Wilder

Patch does work

Re “Patch is not the fix” (The Pulse, Jan. 19): The CN&R references a study recently published in the journal Tobacco Control; however, what was missing from the report was years of scientific evidence and real-world use of nicotine-replacement products.

Despite the author’s conclusion in this particular study, hundreds of clinical trials involving more than 35,000 participants and extensive consumer use for more than 20 years have proven both the efficacy and safety of nicotine-replacement therapy (NRT) when used as directed.

Authors of the study critically point out that NRT products appeared to be often not used as directed by smokers. Numerous studies show smokers who use NRT products per the dosing recommendations, combined with support, can double their chances of successfully quitting over “placebo.”

This study points to something GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare and experts in the field of tobacco-cessation research have understood for many years—that there is no “magic pill” to successfully quitting smoking. We must understand that treating tobacco addiction is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Therefore, it is imperative that smokers have choices that empower them to tailor their own individual approach to address their personal physical and psychological addiction to smoking.

It would be a shame if anyone reading the coverage stemming from the recent study took home the incorrect message that using NRT won’t help them quit smoking. At this time of year when many smokers are trying to quit, it is critical to provide them with the most efficacious treatments and resources available, such as NRT and behavioral support that can help manage cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Nick Kronfeld
Medical Affairs Director

GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare North America

More on circumcision

Re “Ritual Under Fire” (Newslines, by Meredith J. Graham, Feb. 2): Religious rights include—for all Americans—the right to choose your own religion at a rational age. And if that religion happens to not match that of the parents, one has a reasonable expectation not to have doors permanently closed. Three percent of Jews in the U.S. and Israel do not circumcise. Forcibly cutting at birth precludes a male’s right to be that kind of Jew.

But let’s be clear: Religious freedom has been found insufficient grounds for harming someone. Not one national medical association on Earth (not even Israel’s) endorses routine infant circumcision. Foreskin feels really good.

Ron Low

People have unrestricted right to religious belief, and rights to practice, restricted when they impinge on other people (who may grow up to believe something quite different). This is clear when all cutting of girls—no matter how minor—is outlawed without regard for their parents’ religion. Boys deserve no less.

Hugh Young
Porirua, New Zealand

Circumcision for infant females was outlawed in 1997. Does that mean it was ethical to practice it before it was banned completely? No, it doesn’t. It was banned because it has always been unethical to amputate someone else’s sexual organs in infancy, including the infant boy’s prepuce (foreskin) that was removed the day that photo was taken.

I hope Ms. Graham is very grateful that her parents weren’t convinced that her labia majora and clitoris would make her unclean in the eyes of the lord.

Meagan Brent
Cobourg, Ontario