Circumcision Death Brings Out the Worst Mom Bullies

When the Similac recall occurred, Julie wrote about some insensitive comments made by moms. Some people took them as slaps to the face, and others said they really weren't that bad. I thought they were distasteful, but not necessarily attacks. They certainly didn't endear anyone to the authors of the comments.

This week, though, a new low has been hit.

A mother gives birth to a son and discovers he has a congenital heart defect. After seven long weeks, the doctors finally let her know if she wanted to have him circumcised, he was stable and they could go ahead.

Unfortunately, there were some complications, as can happen with any procedure of any kind. Normally, surgery complications have quick procedures that make them either minor or unnoticeable, but in this case, the baby couldn't recover, and he died.

And here enter the worst comments I've seen to date on the internet that attack the mother of the dead infant:


“My heart sure doesn't break for her. On the contrary, she got exactly what she deserved. If every baby who was mutilated died, it might put a stop to the practice. This so-called tragedy is good publicity for outlawing genital mutilation. I hope she feels guilty for the rest of her miserable life & my sympathy for her is ZERO.”

“They didn't care. It was more important that his penis be cut up than he live.”

"I want to offer this woman my deepest condolences, my deepest sympathy. But would she do this again? Would she dare buy the lie that "circumcision didn't kill my child," and go ahead and circumcise another? Did she learn? Or will she be like a dog to her vomit?"

NavalGazingMidwife wrote about her (NSFW) utter dismay and disgust over the comments and cruelty of other people -- other mothers. At a time when a mother should be grieving her dead infant, instead blogs and comments pop up everywhere telling her it's all her fault and she should hate herself.

Despite the outcome, the mother herself has said that the heart defect was the likely cause, not the surgery, and she doesn't regret it because there's no way anyone could have known. Some people are honestly questioning the logic of the doctors who would approve an optional surgery on a touch-and-go infant which is a totally valid concern... but others insist that circumcision killed him, as if they can diagnose medical problems via info on a blog and Twitter and know more than the mother herself. No matter what you think, the fact remains that a MOTHER -- not some letters on a screen -- lost her infant.

He is dead. A real live baby died.

A woman who claims to promote gentle and peaceful behavior started a crusade to use this death a platform to promote Intactivism (the name for the anti-circumcision movement), though the battle cry has since been revised and folks refuse to acknowledge the original's existence. People even addressed the mother directly to say "Told you so," and she was even told rumors that her local news was contacted and there would  be protests at the funeral and the hospital. Her Tweets cried out for help from Ellen Degeneres to help protect her from the bullying. People compared them to the Westboro Baptist Church.

While I'm not an Intactivist myself (I see it much like vaccines, and my opinion isn't up for debate), I completely understand the emotional place that they come from, and understand and respect their arguments and their personal choices. The majority of my friends are Intactivists to some degree, and they're as outraged as I am that this mother is being treated this way -- if not more.

The fact remains that no matter where you stand on this issue, attacking a mother who just lost her child when she was just trying to do what she believed was right, what her doctors told her was okay, is just wrong. It is unacceptable. It is unbelievably horrible.

It also does nothing to help your cause other than convince people that you're more akin to pro-life abortion clinic bombers than peaceful protesters trying to get out a message about the value of a child's right to make decisions about his own body.

There are people behind these names, behind the screen, behind the words. There is a mother who has lost a baby and will forever remember how at the time of his death, she was attacked viciously. What I hope she can eventually do, though, is remember the support, which came in droves, and tried to drown out the bad. Not all Intactivists are mean people -- in fact, just like the Westboro Baptist Church, the crazies are just a small but horribly loud minority, who are generally despised by the actual peaceful folk who are struggling to not be buried under the bad image of the bullies. In fact, it was Intactivists who set up a fund to help donate to the grieving mother and her family.

What to take away from this is a reminder that death is never your platform to attack someone. Moms are all trying hard, with lots of conflicting information and struggles, and while it can be hard to see someone ignore your advice and even find yourself in a position where you could say "I told you so," just don't do it.

Model peaceful parenting, helpful advice, sympathy, empathy and love, because no matter how you parent your kids, they will see how you handle yourself when they aren't looking, and that's when they'll really learn, and of course remember the golden rule you try to instill every day: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


Image via JoeBenjamin/Flickr

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