Channel Ten set to open a ‘Can of Worms’ about circumcision

Child holding wormsChannel Ten’s popular ‘dilemma’ program ‘Can of Worms’ will return to our television screens on Monday, August 20th, with a new host, former panelist on ‘The Circle’,  Chrissie Swan. One of the questions it will ask its panel and studio audience is ‘Should circumcision be banned?’.

In the lead-up to the show’s re-launch, Ten posted this question on the  ‘Can of Worms’  Facebook page and received more than 550 responses. There were many well informed contributions to the debate but, sadly, there were also many other responses which provided clear evidence that much more public education is required on this issue.

Some of the respondents referred to alleged ‘health problems’ that might occur as a result of not having a boy circumcised, however no ‘peak’ medical authority in the world recommends the practice as a valid means of mitigating such concerns. Others spoke of the need for ‘parental rights’ to be paramount in such a discussion. They appeared to be oblivious of the need for infants (who are, of course, unable to consent) to be protected from life-long damage being inflicted upon them as a consequence of the ill-informed beliefs (or religious convictions) of their legal guardians, and/or their medical practitioners.

Hopefully, when the relevant episode of ‘Can of Worms’ goes to air, Channel Ten will provide its viewers with every opportunity to have their say and, more importantly, to educate themselves about this important human rights issue.

Image courtesy of dspruitt /


18 thoughts on “Channel Ten set to open a ‘Can of Worms’ about circumcision

  1. Parents determined to see their child circumcised will often have to drive or fly long distances to find a circumcising doctor. Fewer than 1 in 1,000 registered Australian doctors are prepared to use their tools and training to cut perfectly healthy little boys.

    “Half of the Australian Doctor community believe that the circumcision of newborns is tantamount to child abuse and should never be performed, a survey reveals.”

  2. Two very significant pieces published in Australia this week.

    It is encouraging to see the discussion around forced circumcision mature and evolve from a ‘medical’ issue into a genuine human rights issue.

  3. In the wake of the court ruling in Cologne, more than 600 German doctors and lawyers have signed a petition to the federal government and parliament urging them to support the age restriction on circumcision and to protect children.

    “Religious freedom can not be an excuse for violence” (English translation)

    Meanwhile, in a highly inappropriate and disrepectful intrusion into the internal affairs of another country, 20 (of the 100) Unites States Senators (many of whom identify themselves as Jewish) have written to the German Ambasador this week urging swift action to overturn the ruling of the Cologne court.

    It is telling the letter from the US Senators makes no mention of human rights or the child’s right to autonomy. The US is one of only two countries (along with Somalia – where children are also at great risk of genitial cutting) who are not signatories to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  4. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) will advocate infant male circumcision in its new policy to be released later this month.

    See story today in the Washington Post:
    To quote from this article:
    “According to its 2005 position statement, which reaffirmed its 1999 stance, “existing scientific evidence
    demonstrates potential medical benefits” of newborn circumcision but not enough to
    “recommend routine neonatal circumcision.”
    That position is poised to change, though, as the AAP is expected to release an updated statement and
    report reflecting recent research later this month.
    While details are not yet available, the new position concludes that the health benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks, said Michael Brady, a pediatric expert at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and a member of the AAP’s task force on circumcision.”

    • As usual, Professor Morris exaggerates in the direction of cutting babies. The AAP will NOT “advocate” infant male genital cutting. Members have hinted that it may shift its bottom on the fence yet again, this time in the direction of cutting.

      But times have changed and the the internet has given people access to more sources of information than just people with, literally, an axe to grind. The voices of men who hate what was done to them can now be heard. They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take this any more.

  5. Just as vaccination of children, parents who care for their son should ensure he is circumcised in the neonatal period. The new affirmative policy of the AAP follows the first evidence-based policy statement on infant male circumcision, published earlier this year by the Circumcision Foundation of Australia by prominent public health experts including 5 Fellows of the RACP, and Fellows of other medical colleges. It found that benefits exceeded risks by over 100 to one. Even more if the trivial nature of easily-treated minor ‘complications’ versus the many deaths from preventable cancers such as penile cancer that afflicts 1 in 1,000 uncircumcised males, 15-50% of prostate cancers, which afflicts 1 in 9 men over their lifetime, and the scourge of cervical cancer in the female partner(s), which is on average twice as great if her male partner is uncircumcised. The policy statement, published in a peer-reviewed journal is available for free download at: (Infant male circumcision: an evidence-based policy statement. Open Journal of Preventive Medicine 2012; 2: 79-92). It also found that half of males will suffer a preventable medical condition over their lifetime if not circumcised.
    Parents of a baby boy often wonder whether they should wait and let the boy make his own decision when he is older about getting circumcised. This is like saying they should let him wait and decide later whether he would like to be vaccinated. Responsible parents who are fully informed will inevitably choose medical circumcision during infancy because this affords immediate protection against common urinary tract infections that lead to permanent kidney damage in half of patients. Other immediate and lifetime benefits include prevention of phimosis, paraphimosis, balanitis, balanoposthitis, thrush, cancer-causing HPV, genital herpes, genital ulcer disease and sexual problems. Circumcision has no adverse effect on sexual function, sensation or satisfaction. A large randomized controlled trial men reported that sex was better after their circumcision. In infancy circumcision is quick, cheap, simple and low risk. Even if the teen or man wants to be circumcised barriers can be considerable. These include cost and time of school or work. For more see: A ‘snip’ in time: what is the best age to circumcise? – in BMC Pediatrics 2012; 12 (article 20): 1-15. …. Professor Brian Morris, School of Medical Sciences, University of Sydney

    • I love it how Professor Morris tries to imply that the AAP policy, decided last year, has anything to do with his “Circumcision Foundation of Australia”.

      He fails to mention that he is a co-founder of the “Foundation”. (Would you rather take advice about asprin for the prevention of heart disease from the Heart Foundation, or the Asprin Foundation?)

      His “100 to 1” figure is achieved by putting the most optimistic spin on every possible benefit and minimising every possible risk. Complications are complications, not “complications” and they go all the way to death. Scandalously, we have only a vague idea how many circumcisions result in death, but since circumcision is unnecessary, so is every circumcision death.

      Professor Morris has said on Australian TV that circumcision should be “compulsory”. So much for parental rights!

      Since Professor Morris admits that penile cancer “afflicts 1 in 1,000 uncircumcised males,” he is admitting in the same breath that 999 out of every 1000 circumcisions are wasted for that purpose. (The figure is actually higher, there are plenty of documented cases of penile caner in circumcised men.)

      “half of males will suffer a preventable medical condition over their lifetime if not circumcised.” This figure too is Just Made Up, but so what? What part of your body has a less than 50:50 chance of suffering some medical condition in your lifetime, that could be prevented by cutting it off or out?

      Vaccination offers PROVED, STRONG protection against DEADLY, CONTAGIOUS diseases of CHILDREN, now rare precisely because of vaccination, and epidemic where vaccination is neglected. Circumcision offers disputed, slight reductions in already-rare conditions of late onset that can be better prevented by other means or treated as they arise.

      Professor Morris has left a few diseases off his list, that circumcision has also been claimed to be good against: – Alcoholism, arthritic hips, asthma, blindness, boils, chicken pox, epididymitis, epilepsy, gallstones, gout, headaches, hernia, hydrocephaly, hydrocoele, hypertension, insanity, kleptomaina, leprosy, moral depravity, plague, rectal prolapse, rheumatism, schistosoma, spinal curvature, stomach infection, tuberculosis, and/or yeast infections. It has been a “cure” looking for a disease for over a century, and an intervention in search of an excuse for millennia.

    • Brian I am concerned that you pass yourself off as a doctor, yet you are only a molecular biologist. In truth you have no idea what you are talking about. Your research into cervical cancer makes you no more an expert in foreskins than your obsession with little boys makes you a parent. I have had cervical cancer, and my husband is circumcised. He is my ONLY partner, and I his. I declined a position with USyd because I wanted no affiliation with you on my degree, and I am now a very respected professional in my field. Unlike you.

  6. i find it horrendous that sexual assault and mutilation of a minor can be performed legally. complications, including death can and do occur. beyond me how any so called civilised society can even contemplate the what is a totally unnnecessary procedure…children need to be protected at all costs. they are born with brains, and can make their own decisions later in life. i guees itt’s illegal to tattoo your kids just because you like them, but this is way more damaging and virtually impossible to reverse…google search and you will find thousands of men restoring their foreskins, but will never be the same as nature intended.

  7. Scary to see people like Brian Morris work so hard to convince people that mutilating a child is somehow a ‘good’ thing … especially when the rate of infant circ is falling. Desperate tactics by desperate people.

    Why on earth this man has any prestige anywhere (not counting his circumfetish cronies, of course – that’s a given) is positively astounding.

    It’s just a demonstration of how easily some people can be persuaded to abandon all common sense.


  8. unfortunately academics like brian morris argue with comparisons like vaccinations, which opens a whole new can of worms, vaccinations also kill innocent humans and are not without substantial risk. while benefits may be there, nasty side effects are also common. also most academics seem to have no common sense, no comprehension of ethics, and no understanding of human rights issues and child abuse.
    if we listen to his argument, a logical conclusion is that removing all hearts at birth will completely eradicate heart disease!!!! ridiculous of course, and just as ridiculous as circumcision.

  9. My guess is Ryan ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald will be all for circumcision, having circumcised his son, and will look for every opportunity to make jokes about it, Megan Gale will be against it having lived in Europe and Kate Langbroek will be for it as well – based on one of her recent tweets.

  10. As my father, a well regarded surgeon in Europe said: It is really sick that grown men are so obsessed with cutting pieces off of little boys’ peckers. Leave the little guys alone!

    Mr Morris, while you are at it why don’t you also routinely remove appendices, tonsils and breasts. Imagine all the cases of breastcancer, tonsillitis and appendicitis that could be avoided!

    For what it’s worth, I grew up amongst only uncircumcised men> None of the men in my family had ANY urinary tract infections, prostate or penile cancer. My circumcised father in-law however is currently battling an aggressive prostate cancer.

    Please explain why you think it is such a rush to circumcise males while they are neonates when almost all of the so-called “risks” you are referring to occur later in life? I am not planning to let my son have sex for quite some time (he’s 3).

    Every parent I know who has looked into the pros and cons of circumcision (and any responsible parent should) has ultimately decided against it.

  11. I have read that circumcision is not mentioned in the three oldest known versions of the Torah – apparently the myth about Abraham and circumcision is thought to have been added by Jewish priests around 500BC.

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