60 Minutes segment raises concerns that male circumcision is child sexual abuse

zscreaming babyThe Nine Network’s ‘60 Minutes’ program has tackled the issue of routine infant circumcision again (Sunday March 3rd, 2013). Participants in the segment included former Tasmanian Commissioner for Children, Paul Mason, who made the point that circumcision ‘is child abuse, it’s sexual abuse’ and Elwyn Moir, who highlighted the negative impacts that being subjected to genital cutting as an infant have had on his (and many other men’s) life. Presenting a pro-circumcision opinion (which directly contradicted the stance of Australia’s peak medical bodies) was Brian Morris. 60 Minutes has aired several segments on this issue in the past. Do you think that this latest installment sufficiently took into account the mounting evidence against infant circumcision as an ethical ‘surgical’ procedure?

Click on the link below to see a preview of the segment:


27 thoughts on “60 Minutes segment raises concerns that male circumcision is child sexual abuse

    • Well there has to be SOME question because so many good people don’t Get It. Let;s turn the question around. Under what circumstances would infant genital cutting NOT be child abuse?
      1. If there were a life-threatening medical condition for which circumcision was the only treatment.
      2. If there were a less-than-life-threatening condition, such that circumcision was vastly better than any alternative.
      3. If circumcision (like vaccination) STRONGLY protected against a DEADLY, CONTAGIOUS, disease OF CHILDREN that could not be better prevented or treated any other way.
      Even then, in each case, it would be needed to be balanced against a conservative estimate of the risks.
      Under those unlikely conditions, circumcision would certainly not be child abuse.

      It is not necessary to prove ill-will. Parents who abuse their children by beating them, say, do so (they say) with the best of intentions.

    • Is it abuse? If someone was to touch a boy’s penis for anything other than medical reasons or cleaning, it is seen as abuse. But if someone was to touch it and then also cut off part of it, forever changing every future sexual experience, how can that not be seen as abuse?

      • Well they do it by blurring the line between “pressing medical need” and “some quacks 100 years ago thought it was a good idea” and by mobilising the insecurity of the father to justify doing the same to his son. But you knew that. That’s how they manage not to SEE it as abuse. But what they do today falls off my checklist above into abuse by any reasonable definition of the word.

    • While working as a maternity nurse in the 1960’s, I knew of at least one male infant who bled to death following circumcision carried out in the hospital where he was born..I can still see his parents’ faces when they were told their beautiful baby was dead. Because of that experience I did not allow my son to be circumcised in spite of the social pressure on all parents to consent to it at the time. We were practically forced to agree and it took a strong parent to say ‘no’ to the pressure to consent – based on a peculiar idea of ‘hygiene’. What nonsense! It’s a barbaric practice and should never be allowed. Yes, it’s child abuse. Of course it is. My son is very grateful I refused to be bullied by the so called ‘medical experts’ or religious nutters, and he would never allow his sons to be circumcised.either. I would request that 60 minutes look into infant deaths following circumcision and research the history of this practice in our hospitals. How many deaths have there actually been? Is anyone taking responsibility for them? If not, why not?

  1. Prof. Morris cannot see that circumcision interferes with the Ground Zero of human sexuality. The foreskin and its mobility are the key players in masturbation, female on male foreplay, and vaginal intercourse. The part ablated by circumcision are, in the intact male, the parts that are in direct contact with the vaginal wall during intercourse. He rejects all evidence that what circumcision ablates has a very rich nervous system, consistent with those bits being highly erogenous.

    Prof. Morris sees no need for counting how often RIC results in a permanently damaged penis or has a tragic outcome. No reason to determine whether circumcision is correlated with PE, ED or vaginismus. No need to ask whether the marital satisfaction of women married to cut men differs from that of women married to intact ones. Hence he, and all of American medicine, cannot fulfill the fundamental ethical duty of “first do no harm.” Prof. Morris has a very patronising view of the ability, or lack thereof, or young adults to master their sexual urges.

    • I hope Elwyn Moir will engage directly with Morris, but the scientific claims are complicated and Morris is an expert at oversimplifying to the point of falsification.

      My favourite: A study of 75,000 children (so approximately 37,500 boys – total circumcision status unknown) found 68 boys (10 circumcised, 26 intact, 32 unknown) had had one UTI of whom 8 had had several. Of the 8, 5 were known to be intact, none known to be circumcised and 3 unknown.

      (P.H.Conway, A. Cnaan, T. Zaoutis, B.V. Henry, R.W. Grundmeier, R. Keren, “Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections in Children, Risk Factors and Association With Prophylactic Antimicrobials,” JAMA, July 11, 2007, Vol 298, No. 2 )

      From that Morris takes 5/26 and says

      “Recurrent UTIs occur in 19% of uncircumcised boys, but in none of the circumcised.” – Morris, B, Why Circumcision is a biomedical imperative for the 21st Century, BioEssays 29:11, 1151

      Truly, there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.

      Morris is also very suave and cool, and those who aren’t forewarned and don’t have the background information can easily be taken in.

    • For the record, the Vernon “Quantance” “poem” is still here on Morris’s “humour” page.

      The Gilgal logo is still on his (highly speculative) list of Australian and NZ circumcisers here:

      Click to access LOC-ANZ%200912-1.pdf

      And the Gilgal Society still recommends Morris as the author of some of its leaflets (though they still can’t be ordered directly nearly a year after “major computer failure”)

    • Brian Morris’ field is only remotely related to medicine. (He is a molecular biologist and professor of molecular medical sciences at the University of Sydney.) He neither holds degrees (nor genuine interests) in surgery, urology, pediatrics, nor epidemiology. He is in no way an authority on circumcision, much less male genitalia, child care, nor disease prevention. The media tries to portray him as an “expert,” but he is merely a very opinionated circumcision enthusiast.

      Unless 60 minutes bothered asking anybody from the RACP on the matter (Brian Morris was openly disowned by them), I’m afraid no real “debate” transpired. Why they’re placing more weight on what a few self-proclaimed “experts” have to say on the matter, as opposed to Australian medical authorities, even the most respected authorities in the West, is beyond me.

  2. the female prepuce is protected by law ! the male prepuce is not. the mutilations continue.
    politicians, sex discrimination public servants, child abuse organisations, are all silent. can they all be influenced by the dark side?where are the rights of the individual?.

  3. Is circumscision okay for girls? No and nor should it be for boys. My husband is circumscised and (although not having had intercourse with an uncircumscised male) I believe that intercourse would be gentler with a foreskin instead of a sharp headed circumscised penis. Susan

  4. The medical and scientific evidence is in !!! Circumcision helps to prevent a wide range of diseases including HIV and cervical cancer Mason’s claim that there is no such evidence is a DOWNRIGHT LIE !!! He may find himself being sued

    • The Great Circumcision Experiment has been run and could hardly have failed more spectacularly.

      Generations of near-universal circumcision in the United States has resulted in the worst sexual health outcomes in the developed world, including HIV/AIDS rates 300% higher than non-circumcising Europe. I in 30 adults in Washington DC is HIV+, a rate rivalling the worst of Africa.

      There is absolutely zero evidence either here or in the US that circumcised boys and men are healthier than genitally intact boys and men. Indeed, here in Australia, the overall health of boys improved as circumcision was (mostly) abandoned.

    • “The medical and scientific evidence is in !!!”

      Medical and scientific evidence that no respected medical organization in the world, not even the AAP, to endorse circumcision for newborns.

      Incidentally, do you know what the Royal Australasian College of Physicians is? I’m sure the RACP and Brian Morris are in full lockstep agreement.

      “Circumcision helps to prevent a wide range of diseases including HIV and cervical cancer.”

      I’m sure the whole of Western medicine agrees.

      “Mason’s claim that there is no such evidence is a DOWNRIGHT LIE !!! He may find himself being sued.”

      By whom? The circumcised men in Africa who got HIV anyway?

    • Indeed the evidence IS in. just not how you think. The overwhelming body of evidence is in that circumcision is dirty, and more unhygienic than intact penises. And the evidence keeps rolling in. Time for this practice to die out once and for all.

  5. Over 1000 scientific papers on the preventative health benefits of circumcision have been published in peer reviewed journals over the past 10 years This is EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE objectively obtained and endlessly reproducible The anticircs have absolutely NO DEFENCE against the medical and scientific FACTS

    • Who published these studies? What was their real motivation? It seems to me that a handful of academics relentlessly recycle and churn out material in a desparate attempt to justly a profoundly immoral act via the misapplication of the scientific method.

      In the SBS Insight programme last year, lead AAP Circumcision Task Force member and paediatrician, Dr Andrew Freedman was asked to comment on Prof. Morris’ wild and fanciful claims of improved health, to which he replied; “you can find studies that say those things, but you can also find studies that say the opposite.” Ouch! He flat-out accused Morris of cherry-picking on national television.


    • “Over 1000 scientific papers on the preventative health benefits of circumcision have been published in peer reviewed journals over the past 10 years.”

      And how many medical organizations in the world have found it sufficient to endorse the forced circumcision of minors?

      Is it the AAP, professor Morris?

      Surely the RACP has reviewed all of those papers and have come to the same conclusion as you have.

      “This is EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE objectively obtained and endlessly reproducible.”

      Fantasy-based medicine, you mean to say.

      Yes, I’m sure the “evidence” has been “objectively obtained” by “researchers,” a great deal of them whom belong to circumcision fetish clubs like Gilgal Society.

      “Endlessly reproducible?”

      Not in the real world I’m afraid.

      A quick look at the CIA Factbook reveals the countries where circumcision has not helped reduce HIV, and the countries where intact men are doing just fine, including Australia.

      “The anticircs have absolutely NO DEFENCE against the medical and scientific FACTS.”

      I’m afraid the scientific facts and reality are on our side. Circumcision hasn’t prevented HIV in the US or anywhere else.

      Professor Morris, you do know that your incorrigible projection and your use of logical fallacies will give you away wherever you go, right?

    • Citing “over 1000 scientific papers” is misleading. It assumes all 1000 or so papers are accurate and up to date.

      Brian Morris is notorious for citing already debunked work, such as that of Thomas Wiswell. He is also notorious for citing meta-analyses he performed himself. (And, we can trust he isn’t simply cherry-picking numbers to produce the results he likes, because he is such a neutral, dispassionate, and unbiased “researcher” who doesn’t have a special interest in infant genital mutilation.)

      But even assuming all of this work was true; how does it justify the forced genital mutilation of healthy, non-consenting minors?

      Going on and on about “research” relies on the dubious premise that, whether a practice is morally justified or morally reprehensible is determined by the outcome of some “study.”

      The reasoning goes as follows:

      “If the practice is scientifically proven to be “harmless,” even “beneficial,” then it is morally justified, perhaps even a social imperative.

      If it is shown to be “harmful” and have bad side effects,” then it is morally reprehensible and must be condemned.”

      But using science and research to support a moral position is problematic.

      The problem of activists and politicians depending on scientific research to explain the merits of their principles leaves the door open to all kinds of abuse:

      -“Researchers” with an agenda taking liberties with what is supposed to be scientific data
      -Editors and reviewers using their positions to publish results that support their own personal views, and refusing to publish results which do not, in what are supposed to be scientific journals
      -Flawed research making farfetched associations between a practice and benefit/harm
      -Bad methodology that grossly overstates human costs and/or “net benefit” of a practice
      -The justification of actions that are actually morally repugnant under the guise of “disease prevention” and “public health”
      -Failure to cross-examine politically favorable “research,” or subject it to critical scrutiny
      -The corruption of the scientific virtues of impartiality and balance in the assessment of evidence, and critical skepticism with regard to proposed hypotheses, and vigilance against value-driven confirmation bias in the conduct of research
      -Overall, political activism overwhelming science and research

      Medicine becomes value-based, as opposed to “evidence-based.”

      “Science” and “research” is all good until findings begin to contradict chosen moral values.

      Researchers are beginning to find out that female circumcision isn’t as catastrophic as activists would like. And some research shows a reduction of HIV transmission in circumcised women.

      So is there a determined number of “studies” that would justify female circumcision in girls?

      What if there were 1000 papers? 2000?

      The answer is, there would never be enough “research” that would justify female circumcision in girls. And rightly so.

      It is interesting to watch dedicated circumcision enthusiasts rely on numbers, as if more “studies” made forcibly cutting off parts of children’s genitals any more justified.

      Genital mutilation, whether it be wrapped in culture, religion or “research” is still genital mutilation.

      It is mistaken, the belief that the right amount of “science” can be used to legitimize the deliberate violation of basic human rights.

      Not even if it could be made “painless,” not even if it offered “medical benefits,” not even if sexual experience would remain unscathed would forced genital cutting ever be justified in girls and women.

      The same applies to boys and men.

      More in this here:

  6. Joseph Lewis On the contrary Professor Morris’s profession is extremely relevant to the circumcision debate Molecular science has detected millions of HIV virus particles in the inner lining of the foreskin and also cancer causing or oncogenic strains of the virus that causes cervical cancer in women These findings cannot be refuted by the anticircs or anyone else

    • “Professor Morris’s profession is extremely relevant to the circumcision debate.”

      This must be the reason why he is a respected member of the RACP. I’m sure they respect what he has to say and don’t outright make it a point to disassociate with him.

      “Molecular science has detected millions of HIV virus particles in the inner lining of the foreskin and also cancer causing or oncogenic strains of the virus that causes cervical cancer in women.”

      Molecular science *where,* Mister Fischer?

      Has Professor Morris actually conducted any research of his own? Or does he merely dabble in meta-analyses, inputting numbers from research of his choosing?

      I’m afraid molecular science finds no difference between the inner or external part of the foreskin; HIV penetrates regardless. (Dinh et al.)

      Science tells us, at the molecular level, that the Langerhans cells that are in the foreskin are quite effective at neutralizing HIV. (deWitte et al.)

      Additionally, research has found HPV to be transmitted by both men with anatomically correct, and iatrogenically deficient genitalia. And some have even found it more prevalently transmitted by the circumcised (see IntactNews article)

      Perhaps Prof. Morris has a molecular explanation behind this?

      “These findings cannot be refuted by the anticircs or anyone else.”

      Something is wrong with “findings” that other researchers are unable to confirm, not to mention “findings” that don’t coincide with real world data. 70% of the world’s male population is not circumcised, and they simply aren’t suffering all the problems Morris says afflicts only intact men.

      Dinh, MH; McRaven MD, Kelley Z, Penugonda S, Hope TJ (2010-03-27). “Keratinization of the adult male foreskin and implications for male circumcision.”. AIDS 24 (6): 899-906. PMID 20098294. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20098294. Retrieved 2011-06-28. “We found no difference between the keratinization of the inner and outer aspects of the adult male foreskin. Keratin layers alone are unlikely to explain why uncircumcised men are at higher risk for HIV infection.”.

      Dinh, Minh H; Sheila M Barry, Meegan R Anderson, Scott G McCoombe, Shetha A Shukair, Michael D McRaven, Thomas J Hope (2009-12-06), “HIV-1 Interactions and Infection in Adult Male Foreskin Explant Cultures” (PDF), 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections, Montreal, Canada, http://retroconference.org/2009/PDFs/502.pdf, retrieved 2011-06-28, “No difference can be clearly visualized between the inner and outer foreskin.”

      de Witte, Lot; Alexey Nabatov, Marjorie Pion, Donna Fluitsma, Marein AW P de Jong, Tanja de Gruijl, Vincent Piguet, Yvette van Kooyk, Teunis B H Geijtenbeek (2007-03-04). “Langerin is a natural barrier to HIV-1 transmission by Langerhans cells” (PDF). Nature Medicine. doi: 10.1038/nm1541. http://www.circumcisionandhiv.com/files/de_Witte_2007.pdf. Retrieved 2011-06-28.


    • Scientific facts are great, especially if they’re true, but they should never be used to try to justify violating a child’s body or fundamental human rights.

      Every child has the right to enter adulthood with all of their body parts — including all their erogenous tissues — completely intact.

  7. i know many circumcised men regret having been done and will not allow their sons or grandsons to be done. Councellor

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