Quotes from my Book
The following are quotes from letters and interviews which appear in the book
Circumcision: The Painful Dilemma
(© 1985, Bergin & Garvey, S. Hadley, MA.) by Rosemary Romberg:
PARENTS OF CIRCUMCISED SONS:
“I can still remember his chilling screams!! How could I have ever let them do that to my poor defenseless child?! Every mother tries to do her best for her child, and I thought I was doing the best thing. If I had thought more about it I would have realized it (the foreskin) was there for a reason. I don’t think God intended for us to mutilate our children this way.'”
“My husband held the baby to the table while the doctor performed the operation. I found the screams unbearable and retreated to a chair in the waiting room. The doctor told my husband that at that age a baby’s penis isn’t really that sensitive and he was screaming out of fright and not pain…. There is still a scar to remind me of the incident. We realize now that we made the wrong decision and our reasoning was ridiculous. Any other male children born to us will not be circumcised.”
Maggie & David Seastrom
“They strapped him down which I hated. We massaged his head, stroked him, and talked to him the whole time…. My husband said it was the most awful thing he’d ever seen or done. How and why did this barbaric custom have to start?!!”
Paula & Richard Sloun
“I stood outside the door while they were doing it to him and listened to him scream and cry. That’s the first time I really began to wonder what the hell I had let them do to my baby!! Since then I have asked myself that a million times.”
“After about 40 minutes the doctor came out and explained to us that there was one spot that would not stop bleeding. I don’t think we were aware that there could be complications. There was no doubt in our minds that this was wrong, knowing that it wasn’t necessary in the first place. It must have been torture for him…. (later) He constantly cried and sniffled….. this went on all day. I held Gabriel the whole day. I couldn’t move him. I felt horrible! I felt like I had just killed him!! I can’t explain the guilt that I felt. I was angry. I hurt all over for my baby.”
“Something terrible had happened that could never be redeemed. It was like the fall from the Garden of Eden. We had this beautiful baby boy and seven beautiful days and this beautiful rhythm starting and it was like something snatched the essence of what was ever there and damaged it!!”
Elizabeth & Marsh Pickard-Ginsberg
PARENTS OF INTACT- (NON-CIRCUMCISED) SONS:
“After hearing descriptions of tying the child down or holding him forcibly and how most of them scream as no anesthetic is used, I began to question the practice. Since we were searching for a positive birth experience with loving and caring attendants, a circumcision would be a less than positive event and certainly not peaceful.”
“We decided not to subject our beautiful, whole newborn baby to mutilation and unnecessary pain. I asked a close friend why their son had been circumcised. She said, ‘I thought you needed to! You mean you don’t have to?!’”
Cross City, FL.
“If little girls can be taught to clean the myriad folds that we’re blessed with, why not little boys? I must agree with my husband who says, what kind of a way is that to start your life, getting the end of your penis cut off?!!”
Debi & Larry Miller
“Our boys have accepted easily the rational and loving reasons for not having something cut off.”
Diana & Stephen Brandon
W. Burke, VT
“What was most influential to my own decision not to have Terry circumcised was my husband’s saying, When I found out my foreskin had been cut off without my permission I felt angry and cheated!”
N. Hollywood, CA.
“Our sons haven’t worried about being different from their father or friends. They simply have been told that they were not circumcised, They have never said anything about being different. My older son tells his friends ‘I’m not circumcised.’ and then the other kids are fascinated.”
“I found my poor little boy naked, strapped to a horrible contoured board with room for his legs, arms, head, etc. each in a compartment. He was painted with an orange antiseptic from the waist down. I crawled up on the table next to Trent and tried to get across to him that I loved him and hated what I had to do to him … (later) Thankfully I took my uncircumcised baby home, determined not to put him through THAT again. When I described the procedure to my husband he agreed that he didn’t want his son to go through all that even if it did mean that they didn’t ‘match.’ “
Dee Le Clair
“Even if you found that there was absolutely no harmful psychological effects, it would still not justify doing an unnecessary procedure. You just should not be cruel to babies.”
Dr. Paul Fleiss (Pediatrician)
“My feeling is that it is a traumatic experience and I am opposed to traumatizing the baby. I’m also opposed to inflicting an operation on an individual without his permission. My feelings became more concrete when I talked to Dr. Leboyer and saw his birth film. It seemed so incongruous to have a non-violent birth and then immediately do violence to the baby by circumcising him.”
Dr. Howard Marchbanks (Family Practicioner)
“Mothers are always so sensitive to their babies’ cries that when you have a situation like that happening, mothers will get very, very upset. We used to have mothers who would come and look through the examining room window. They could see the babies getting circumcised. We didn’t tell them to come look, but sometimes they would see it because it was right there across from the post partum rooms. Sometimes I saw very scared looks on their faces.”
Paula Coleman, R.N. (Obstetrical Nurse)
(In response to circumcision, the baby cries)… “a helpless, panicky breathless, high-pitched cry! Another thing which sometimes happens with babies who are being circumcised is that they can lapse into a semi-coma. People don’t distinguish between that high-pitched, panicky, breathless cry and a normal loud cry. And people don’t make the distinction between sleep and semi-coma. Both of these states, helpless crying and semi-coma are abnormal states in the newborn.”
Dr. Justin Call (Infant Psychologist) Professor in Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychology
University of California, Irvine
“When a person is injured he can react in one of two ways. He can yell!! This is a more pro-survival response than the kind of injury in which a person is so traumatized that he can’t cry out. In four of the nine circumcisions that I have seen, the baby didn’t cry at all. They just seemed to be all of a sudden in a state of shock. I have seen babies so socked into it that they’ve been almost unconscious. That’s always easier on the parents because we expect crying to be a measure of pain.”
(President, Association for Childbirth at Home, International; Midwife)
“The younger a child is, the closer a child is to conception, the more vulnerable and the more open that child is to any hurt at all. The goal of the parent should be to minimize hurt during the whole period of infancy.'”
Dr. Michael Holden, M.D.
(Medical Director, Primal Institute)
Los Angeles, CA.
“There is what we call prototypic pain. People will have a certain type of pain in their life, and it’s compounded by many different types of experiences. It reinforces a particular trauma that they’ve had.”
Patricia Nicholas, M.A.
(Assistant Director, Primal Institute) Los Angeles, CA.
FINALLY – A MOST INTERESTING COMPARISON
“It’s just a slight irritation. It’s nothing very bothersome.”
(describing his experience of being circumcised at age 23.)
“I see it as a bunch of evil leering monsters who are going to devour me. The feeling was that they were taking something from me. It was like I had something they wanted and they took it from me, and I was totally helpless!! It really wasn’t as much physical pain as it was pure abject terror!! It hurt for days until it healed. Every time I was aware of that pain, the throbbing and the healing process, I kept seeing this scene, and my body kept going into it. I was just terrified until the pain went away. As long as it took to heal was as long as I was in absolute terror and agony.”
Leslie Pam, Ph.D.
(Associate Director, Primal Institute)
Los Angeles, CA.
(describing his experience of being circumcised at age 8 days – re-experienced through primal therapy.)
(Author’s note – I originally intended to write a book that was ‘neutral’ about circumcision, presenting the pros and cons of either choice. My own three sons have been circumcised.* [My husband’s Jewish background was one influence in my decision to circumcise.] Although I was deeply troubled about it, when I began this research in 1977, I still believed that circumcision was a good idea. My mind changed after I had been involved in this research for several months. I have received many letters and conducted many interviews that now appear in this book. I did not receive any positive experiences from parents of circumcised sons or any negative experiences from parents of intact sons. The book has turned out to be against circumcision, instead of neutral simply because the many letters, interviews, and extensive research going into my book have simply ‘stacked-up’ in that direction. R.R.* Since writing this book I have given birth to a fourth son who has been left intact.)
Compiled by Rosemary Romberg
First printing: 1979
Updated for website: 2000 (Edited 2013)
Ms. Romberg’s credentials:
B.A. Degree, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1969
Elementary Teaching Credential, California Lutheran College, 1970
Taught childbirth education classes for Preparing Expectant Parents in Southern California Prepared Childbirth Association in Bellingham, WA., and for The Association for Childbirth at Home, International, (based in Cerritos, CA.)
Mother of six, all born naturally and breastfed. Four sons and two daughters.
Three children born in hospitals, three born at home.
My three oldest three sons were circumcised. Youngest son was left intact.)