Canadian Paediatric Society faces potential child sex scandal

In order to maintain a perception of credibility, so-called ‘peak’ medical authorities in any modern society must ensure that they observe the highest possible standards when they disseminate information to the general public. The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) has recently let itself down in this regard by referring to source material that was originally published by a person who is currently serving time in jail for multiple child sex and child pornography offences.

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In September 2015, the CPS released an updated ‘position statement’ on the issue of newborn male circumcision. The document ultimately concluded that the CPS ‘does not recommend the routine circumcision of every newborn male’ however the CPS position statement listed a brochure called ‘Circumcision: A guide for parents’ as one of its selected resources. The primary author of that brochure was Brian Morris, a prominent Australian pro-circumcision campaigner. The brochure was originally published by ‘The Gilgal Society’, a UK-based organisation which was principally maintained by Vernon Quaintance,

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In April 2013, during a discussion that occurred on a Facebook page called ‘Response to Ignorance’, Morris confirmed that he had engaged Quaintance’s services in the publication of the ‘Circumcision: A guide for parents’ brochure. Morris badly contradicted himself during that conversation. In the first instance, he claimed that (quote) ‘I have never met Quaintance…nor have I ever spoken to (him)’. He then went on to confirm that (quote) ‘Quaintance offered to assist in production of professional quality brochures and I accepted his offer’.

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In April 2012, Quaintance was convicted of possessing child pornography. The ‘Croydon Advertiser’ reported that Quaintance had been found in possession of three video cassettes which contained seven to nine hours of ‘graphic footage of child abuse ranked at the second-highest level of severity’. The court found that  boys as young as 11 years old engaging in sex acts were discovered on the videos. The judge in that case sentenced Quaintance to a 40 week suspended jail sentence. In October 2014, Quaintance faced court again, this time on multiple serious child sex offences. It was revealed that Quaintance had ‘targeted young boys and asked them to expose themselves’. On this occasion he was jailed for 2 years and 4 months.

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After hearing of Quaintance’s first conviction on child sex offences, Brian Morris attempted to distance himself from Quaintance and ‘The Gilgal Society’. He changed the name of the publisher of the ‘Circumcision: A guide for parents’ brochure to simply ‘Brian Morris’. He also deleted every reference to Quaintance and Gilgal from his website. This action represented nothing more than a desperate and futile attempt at re-writing history. It represented hopeless and cynical brinkmanship at its finest.

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Great care, consideration and research are required when official documents are produced and published by ‘statutory authorities’. Referencing documents prepared by Brian Morris can never be a good look for any organisation which purports to provide balanced information to the public on the issue of male circumcision. Over many years, Morris has built himself a strong reputation for disseminating one-sided, agenda-driven propaganda on the issue. Professor Basil Donovan, a sexual/public health expert from the University of Sydney, has stated that Morris publishes information which is ‘dangerous’ and ‘amounts to a serious disservice to parents’. What is much more damning in this case however is that the Canadian Paediatric Society has referred to a document which was originally published by a twice convicted child sex offender. As such, the CPS has proven itself to be (at the very least) utterly careless in the preparation of its latest ‘position statement’ on newborn male circumcision.

Image sources:

1. ‘Canadian Paediatric Society’.

http://www.cps.ca/documents/position/circumcision

2 and 6. ‘Circumstitions News’.

http://circumstitionsnews.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/sydney-brian-morris-fails-to-erase.html

3. ‘Response to Ignorance’ Facebook page.

https://www.facebook.com/responsetoignorance

4. ‘Croydon Advertiser’, April 21st, 2012.

http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/Croydon-circumcision-campaigner-caught-child-porn/story-15866127-detail/story.html

5. ‘Croydon Advertiser’, October 3rd, 2013.

http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/Upper-Norwood-circumcision-fetishist-jailed/story-23040107-detail/story.html

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Minority Reporter: How Brian Morris fought a personal war against the human foreskin (and how he lost)

white_flagBrian Morris is a former Professor of molecular biology at the University of Sydney. He has spent much of his adult life attempting to defend the practice of routine infant circumcision. He has, in essence, fought a personal war against a normal part of the human anatomy (the male foreskin). Morris has utilised a wide range of tactics in order to prosecute his case in relation to this issue. He has mastered the art of optimising media opportunities to promulgate his views on the subject. He has also surrounded himself with like-minded individuals, whom he has hoped would provide credible support for his war against the foreskin. Morris and his allies have attempted to harness scientific research in order to underpin their opinions and they have been unrelenting in their attempts at discrediting those who express views that contradict their own. Despite his dedication and persistence, the evidence provided below demonstrates quite clearly that Morris has lost the battle. The ‘courts’ of science, medicine and (perhaps most importantly) public opinion have ruled against him.

Public visibility has been a major weapon in Brian Morris’ war against the foreskin. He has used his ‘status’ as a professor with great efficiency in this regard. Every notable story/article about circumcision that has appeared in the mainstream Australian media over the last few years has featured Morris. His recent television appearances include segments on the Nine Network’s ’60 Minutes’, the Seven Network’s ‘Sunday Night’ and SBS’s ‘Insight’. In addition, to the best knowledge of this author, Morris has also been quoted in every mainstream Australian print media article on the subject of circumcision in recent times. Morris has benefited from the fact that all mainstream media outlets attempt to set up a ‘polemic’ debate about seemingly controversial issues. It might, therefore, appear to some that Morris’ media war against the foreskin has been a success but public responses to his input tell a different story. In every relevant forum, the overwhelming majority of commentators have been scathing of him and his position. It is therefore obvious that Morris’ mainstream media war against the foreskin has been a dismal failure. He has lost.

Morris has also been very proactive in using internet weaponry in his war against the foreskin. In the first instance he created a website called ‘CircInfo.net’. That site is still active and contains nothing other than pro-circumcision propaganda. Until recently, ‘CircInfo’ contained an entire page devoted to tasteless ‘circumcision humour’, which included a photo of an underage boy with his penis trapped inside a mobile phone. There was clearly no educational value that image, which leads this author to question Morris’ motivation in posting it. ‘CircInfo’ was originally hosted on University of Sydney servers but, after a complaint from a member of the public about a conflict of interest, Morris was ordered by his employer to move it to another server.

Morris continues to use that site (and the internet in general) to try and discredit those who speak out against his war against the foreskin.  ‘CircInfo’ has a whole page devoted to this endeavour. There are many misrepresentations and much misinformation offered on that page. When one assesses the character of some of Morris’ own associates (see below) it would appear to be quite hypocritical for him to attempt to discredit the entire anti-circumcision movement on the basis of ‘guilt by association’. Morris has even gone so far as to attempt to discredit the profession of paediatrics. He claims on his website that (quote) ‘most paediatricians are well-intentioned. However, clearly this specialty would attract male medical graduates with a sexual predilection for children’. Aside from the fact that such a comment reeks of a smear campaign, there seems to be something grossly incongruous about the fact that, on one hand, Morris has sought to denigrate paediatricians, whilst on the other hand, he has since put his name to a statement which congratulated the American Association of Pediatricians for issuing a statement which alleged that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweighed the risks. It is, therefore, apparent that Morris is a cynical opportunist of the highest order.

Another example of Morris’ ruthless attempts at discrediting those who oppose him occurred in 2004, when respected scientist Dr Karl Kruszelnicki published a short article titled ‘May the foreskin be with you’. Morris objected to  Kruszelnicki’s highlighting of the fact that the foreskin is ‘a uniquely specialised, sensitive, functional organ of touch’ and accused him of promulgating ‘blatantly biased propaganda’. Morris’ hypocrisy in this instance was breath-taking, given the one-sided nature of his own web site. Morris lodged an official complaint with The Australian Press Council but it was dismissed in its entirety. Given all of the above, it is clear that Morris’ propaganda war against his opponents has been a dismal failure. He has lost.

Morris has fought his war against the foreskin under the banner of ‘an evidence based appraisal’. Clearly however, his use of scientific studies to support his argument in favour of circumcision has failed the credibility test in two hugely important regards. First, Morris has only ever referred to studies which purport to give credibility to his position (most of which are authored or co-authored by Morris himself). There is no impartiality or balance in Morris’ so-called ‘appraisal’. No acknowledgement is given to the massive amount of credible literature which calls Morris’ position into question. Furthermore, Morris has not met the professional standards required in order be regarded as an expert on the issue of circumcision.

Morris has regularly used ‘sleight of hand’ in order to fudge statistics and other information to suit his argument. To provide just one example, Morris once co-authored an article which claimed that a UK study had found that ‘cumulative prevalence (of UTI’s) to age 16 was 3.6% in uncircumcised boys’, however the article in question actually made no reference at all to the circumcision status of the boys included in its study. That document also claimed that circumcision ‘protects against recurrence’ of UTI’s. It cited an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) as supporting evidence for that claim, however the JAMA article in question stated quite clearly that ‘the lack of circumcision documentation in 47% of male children limited our ability to accurately assess risk based on this important factor’. These serious misrepresentations of supporting evidence clearly call into question the credibility of Morris and the other authors of the article referred to here.

Morris and his views on circumcision are clearly out of step with the majority of medical professionals in Australia. The Australasian Association of Paediatric Surgeons describes neonatal circumcision as ‘inappropriate and unnecessary’. Furthermore, in 2012, the results of a poll released online by the ‘Australian Doctor’ revealed that only 2% of those surveyed supported the view that infant circumcision should be mandatory. Conversely, 51% of respondents ‘likened the procedure to child abuse’. Morris must therefore most certainly be regarded as a ‘minority reporter’. One observer has even gone so far as to aptly label him ‘Professor 2%’. It is clear that Morris’ pseudo-scientific war against the foreskin has been a dismal failure. He has lost.

Morris has developed extensive networks with others who share his desire to fight a war against the foreskin. Clearly, his choices in this regard have often been less than ideal. Morris was previously closely associated with the UK based ‘Gilgal Society’. Until recently, the Gilgal Society was led by Vernon Quaintance. In 2012, Quaintance was found guilty of possessing child pornography (including images of males under the age of 16). In April 2013, Morris claimed on a Facebook page called ‘Yes, I’m Circumcised’ that he had ‘never met’ nor spoken to Quaintance however, curiously, he then went on to confirm that (quote) ‘Quaintance offered to assist in the production of professional quality brochures and that…(he)…accepted his offer’. Until shortly after Quaintance’s conviction those very brochures were available for download from Morris’ website and they carried the ‘Gilgal Society’ name and logo.

In 2010, Morris helped found an organisation known as the ‘Circumcision Foundation of Australia’. The President of CFA is Dr Terry Russell. Russell is the principal operator of ‘Circumcision Australia’, a small group of Doctors based in Brisbane and Melbourne who proudly claim that they have performed ‘over 30,500 circumcisions’ in the last 20 years. Russell himself has been performing circumcisions for more than 35 years. As such, Russell clearly has a significant financial vested interest in the promotion of circumcision. In 2004, Russell was reprimanded, ordered to repay $4,488.88 and to undergo counselling by the Professional Services Review (PSR), an independent Commonwealth body established to ‘protect the integrity of the Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits schemes’. The PSR found that Russell ‘opportunistically diagnosed tongue-tie’ in patients referred to him for circumcisions. It found that 90% of such procedures performed by him (for which a Medicare rebate was claimed) were ‘inappropriate’ on the grounds that there were ‘no clinical indications for the services’ rendered.

In addition, Morris has co-authored ‘peer reviewed’ papers with others who have no relevant formal academic qualifications, most notably Jake Waskett. In April this year, Morris confirmed via the ‘Yes, I’m Circumcised’ Facebook page that Waskett is ‘an IT expert’ who ‘did not complete his degree’. Morris attempted to validate his association with Waskett by suggesting that he ‘has an academic level knowledge of the medical literature on male circumcision’. Despite Morris’ protestations, it is clear that Waskett is neither a doctor nor a scientist. As such, he is in no way qualified to contribute to publications which claim to possess mainstream medical or scientific credibility.

Ultimately, social and ethical issues are decided in the court of public opinion. In the case of Morris’ war against the foreskin, the jury has spoken loudly and clearly. In Australia, routine infant circumcision rates have been in dramatic freefall since the 1970’s. At that time, around 85% of boys were subjected to the practice but that figure has now fallen to around 15%. The practice is banned as elective surgery in public hospitals in most jurisdictions. This situation is mirrored in all other Western democracies. Circumcision is now firmly entrenched as a minority practice in all of Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand. Even in the United States (where circumcision has traditionally been most firmly entrenched as a cultural norm) the tide is turning. Routine circumcision now impacts upon less than 50% of the neo-natal male population in America and that number continues to fall. These statistics provide clear evidence that Morris’ public relations war against the foreskin has been a dismal failure. He has lost.

On his own website, Morris makes the following observation: ‘Imagine holding a set position for years, a good portion of one’s life dedicated to that cause, only to find out the effort had little effect’. Ironically, that comment summarises Morris’ current position perfectly. He has fought a long, hard and sometimes dirty personal war against the human foreskin but, as the evidence provided above clearly shows, when judged against any relevant measure, Morris has lost the fight. It is, therefore, surely time for him to raise the white flag and officially surrender.

Footnote:  A screenshot of Morris’ comments on the ‘Yes, I’m Circumcised’ Facebook page is available upon request. To obtain a copy, send us an email via the ‘Contact Us’ page on this site.

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:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_AHvKiKas8

Meet the ‘Circumcision Academy of Australia’

In 2010, an organisation calling itself the ‘Circumcision Foundation of Australia’ (CFA) was established, with the sole aim of reversing the dramatic decline in the number of neonatal circumcisions that are performed in Australia. For reasons unknown, in the middle of 2014, the CFA re-branded itself as the ‘Circumcision Academy of Australia’ (CAA). The CAA presents itself as being a group of credible, well educated ‘public health advocates’ but its stance puts it severely at odds with conventional wisdom on this issue. In fact, as The Age has previously reported, ‘no authoritative health policy maker in any jurisdiction with a frequency of relevant health conditions as low as that in Australia recommends circumcision as a public health measure’. Anyone who takes a closer look at the activities and associations of the CAA’s members will therefore surely ask themselves the following question: ‘What are the real motivations of the Circumcision Academy of Australia?’

In the interests of transparency and public awareness, Intactivists of Australasia have compiled the following dossier on the key members of the CAA.

BRIAN J MORRIS:

Morris was a founding member of ‘The Gilgal Society’, a UK based pro-circumcision organisation. Until 2012, the Gilgal Society was led by Vernon Quaintance, who was found guilty of possessing child pornography in 2012 and who is currently facing more similar charges. As of today, Morris’s personal pro-circumcision website still contains a link to ‘a list of possible circumcisers’. That document originally contained the Gilgal Society logo but in the aftermath of Quaintance’s arrest Morris removed any reference to Gilgal in that (and other) downloadable documents. Morris also had a poem written by Quaintance in the ‘circumcision humour’ section of his site. The same page also featured a photo of a young boy with his penis trapped inside a mobile phone. Possibly as a result of personal embarrassment created by Intactivists of Australasia, Morris has since removed the ‘circumcision humour’ page from his website.

In December 2011, Morris was directed by his previous employer (University of Sydney) to remove his site from their servers. Morris subsequently moved that site to another server but, curiously, a ‘whois’ search revealed that the CFA website was being hosted by University of Sydney servers.

Morris is clearly very sensitive about any criticism of his long-standing advocacy in favour of circumcision. When the international whistleblower organisation ‘Circleaks’ published details of his activities, Morris attempted to suppress it by creating a user account, which he subsequently used to delete the entire contents of the page. That attempt failed and the information revealed by Circleaks remains publicly available.

Given all of the above, it appears valid to ask the following question: Is Morris’s stance on circumcision based on ‘public health advocacy’, or is it based on something else?

TERENCE RUSSELL:

Russell is the President of the CAA. He is also the principal operator of ‘Circumcision Australia’, a small group of Doctors based in Brisbane and Melbourne who proudly claim that they have performed ‘over 30,500 circumcisions’ in the last 20 years. Russell himself has been performing circumcisions for more than 35 years. As such, Russell clearly has a significant financial vested interest in the promotion of circumcision.

In 2004, Russell was reprimanded, ordered to repay $4,488.88 and to undergo counseling by the Professional Services Review (PSR), an independent Commonwealth body established to ‘protect the integrity of the Medicare and Pharmaceutical Benefits schemes’. The PSR found that Russell ‘opportunistically diagnosed tongue-tie’ in patients referred to him for circumcisions. It found that 90% of such procedures performed by him (for which a Medicare rebate was claimed) were ‘inappropriate’ on the grounds that there were ‘no clinical indications for the services’ rendered.

Given all of the above, it appears valid to ask the following question: Is Russell’s stance on circumcision based on ‘public health advocacy’, or is it based on something else?

ALEX WODAK:

Wodak has regularly relied upon heavily criticised studies on HIV/AIDS in Africa to support his view that circumcision should be used as a frontline defense against the disease in Australia. His views on this matter lie in stark contrast with those of Australia’s peak medical body, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, which has stated that it ‘does not believe the African data can be directly extrapolated to the Australian or New Zealand circumstance’. In addition to that, Wodak, of all peope, would surely be aware of the fact that the decline in the number of HIV infections being reported in Australia since the 1980’s has occurred concurrently with a steep decline in the number of infant circumcisions being performed.

A Google search reveals that Wodak has made many statements extolling the virtues of circumcision but only one quote could be found in which he promotes the use of condoms (and he mentions circumcision in that statement too). This appears somewhat bizarre, given that the effectiveness of condoms in the prevention of HIV/AIDS is not in dispute, whereas the effectiveness of circumcision remains a matter of great controversy.

Wodak has not made his religious or cultural background public. He is, of course, under no obligation to do so (and nor should he be). It is known however that Australia’s Jewish community claims Wodak as one of their own and that he has participated in at least one public forum hosted by Melbourne’s Jewish community.

Given all of the above, it appears valid to ask the following question: Is Wodak’s stance on circumcision based on ‘public health advocacy’, or is it based on something else?

ANTHONY DILLEY:

In January 2011, The Herald Sun reported that Dilley performs ‘up to 40 circumcisions a week’. Respondents in online forums (including the ‘Huggies’ website) have claimed that Dilley receives a fee of up to $600 for each circumcision that he performs.

Dilley clearly derives a significant amount of income from a business model which is heavily reliant upon his ability to entice customers (parents) who will pay him to circumcise their sons. As such, Dilley  has a significant financial vested interest in the promotion of circumcision. Interestingly, a previous visit to Dilley’s website confirmed that he, like Terence Russell, has had a particular interest in performing tongue-tie surgeries.

Given all of the above, it appears valid to ask the following question: Is Dilley’s stance on circumcision based on ‘public health advocacy’, or is it based on something else?

MICHAEL LOWY:

The independent Australian whistleblower organisation ‘Crikey’ has Lowy on its ‘Register of Influence’, which seeks to ‘identify some of the associations between key opinion leaders and industry marketing or disease-awareness campaigns’. Lowy, who is a ‘sexual health physician’ is also a board member of ‘Impotence Australia’, an organisation which receives its funding from the makers of the three most popular anti-impotence drugs (Viagra, Levitra and Cialis). Recent studies have been published which indicate a probable link between circumcision and impotence.

Crikey does not allege any impropriety by Lowy. It invites those listed on the register to provide a response. Thus far, Lowy has declined to do so. Given the above, it would  appear to be valid to ask the following question: Is Lowy’s stance on circumcision based on ‘public health advocacy, or is it based on something else?’

ROBIN J WILLCOURT:

In 1999, Willcourt was found guilty of disorderly conduct, whilst practicing as a Gynecologist/Obstetrician in the USA. The Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners (NBME) subsequently found that the offense constituted ‘a crime involving moral turpitude’ and ordered him to pay $4,055.35 ‘for costs involved in the investigation and prosecution of the case against him’. It also required him to perform 20 hours of ‘uncompensated public service’. The exact details of the offence committed by Willcourt are not known however, during its deliberations, one of the members of the NBME said the following about Willcourt’s explanation of the incident: ‘just imagine you’re there in the bushes and you’re taking a leak and somebody comes up behind you and starts talking dirty and you produce an erect penis. I don’t think I buy that. I think that is inconsistent physiologically. That’s one of the biggest holes I see in this case.’ Another said ‘I have a very difficult time believing this sequence of events and his explanation for it’.

ADRIAN MINDEL:

Like Lowy, Mindel is named on Crikey’s ‘Register of Influence’. Mindel is a Professor of Sexual Health Medicine at the University of Sydney. He is also a board member of the ‘The Australian Herpes Management Forum’, which receives funding from several large drug companies, principally Novartis. As with Lowy, Mindel has declined to respond to Crikey’s listing on the register.

Given the above, it appears valid to ask the following question: Is Mindel’s stance on circumcision based on ‘public health advocacy, or something else?

KAREN A DUGGAN

Duggan is a Sydney based Nephrologist (renal specialist). She is listed as a co-author of the CAA’s defining document, ‘Infant male circumcision: An evidence based policy statement’.

In its discussion of urinary tract infections (UTI’s) and renal disease, the CAA document claimed that a UK study had found that ‘cumulative prevalence (of UTI’s) to age 16 was 3.6% in uncircumcised boys’, however the article in question actually made no reference at all to the circumcision status of the boys included in its study. The CAA document also claimed that circumcision ‘protects against recurrence’ of UTI’s. It cited an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) as supporting evidence for that claim, however the JAMA article stated quite clearly that ‘the lack of circumcision documentation in 47% of male children limited our ability to accurately assess risk based on this important factor’.

Given all of the evidence provided above, it appears valid to ask the following question: Is the CAA’s promotion of routine circumcision of male minors in Australia based on ‘public health advocacy’, or is it based on something else? Thus far, Intactivists of Australasia have not sighted any response from the members of CAA which satisfies our curiosity about their stance on this important human rights issue. If you are similarly unconvinced about the motivations of the CAA please click this link to support our petition which opposes the questionable agenda of the CAA.