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

circumcision, newborns


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tyrel... tyrelsmom

Those comments are disgusting.  I am VERY against circumcision, I think it's mutilation.  But I would never ever tell any mother that she deserved her baby's death unless she intentionally killed him.  I understand that although I believe it's mutilation, those who choose to do it to their babies don't, they think they're doing what's best for their babies.  Information, not personal attacks, is what is key to changing as many minds as possible and preventing further mutilation of baby boys.

Zefsmama Zefsmama

This is heart breaking. We chose not to circomcise. But it, like every decision I've made for him, is personal. It is completely inappropriate to use a persons loss as your platform for political or social activism. I don't personally agree with circumcision but I'm the only mom out of all my friends who hasn't done it. I would never fathom judging parents for their choice for their child. Every parent makes choices they feel are right for their child.

Kristi NChris Pena

thank you for this. You are abdsolutely correct in what you say!!!!!

David Wilson

The photo used is of us at the US Capitol. The statement in the banner says it all. The foreskin is NOT a birth defect! This child didn't need to be circumcised at all, let alone at a time when he was just beginning to survive. Bad decision by the medical staff and the mother period. As for any demonstration at his funeral. That simply isn't true. We planned to demonstrate in front of the hospital. Never a childs funeral. In the past we, the intactivists, have found postings by people pretending to be against circumcision simply in order to fan the flame. My heart goes out to the mother. But in the same breath, she should use his death to help prevent any further unnecessary death by an outdated, medically unnecessary surgery. Over 115 baby boys die each year here in the US as the result of circumcision. Isn't it time we end this insanity?? Stop Infant Circumcision Society

briar... briarraindancer

O Rly, Mr. Wilson? A woman just lost her child, but of course, the first thing she should do is campaign against circumcision. Not... you know... grieve. What if at the end of the day, she'd choose circumcision again? Either way, it's still her choice as a parent. 

The fact of the matter is, you're just as bad as the quotes up above. You just couch your contempt of her choice in pretty language. As long as we still live in the United States of America, my parenting choices are my own. Including circumcision. 

nonmember avatar Equal

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. So your perceived right as a parent to choose circumcision is also you removing the right (among other things) to an intact body for your son.

bless... blessedquiver

Poor Momma!  How absolutely horrible to loose a child! My heart goes out to her.

I do find it odd that she didn't have any remorse over a decision that led to her child's death though. I know when my husband was killed in a motorcycle accident we were both in, I was in a wheel chair, and trying to learn to walk again against all odds, my first thought was getting people aware. So, the mourning was part of the process of letting people know. There was actually a law passed in TX about failure to yeild named after my husband because I became proactive while still in that wheel chair.

So, yes, I have to say that if I was not informed that my child with a heart defect had a higher chance of dying, you better bet your bippy I would be raising some hell. If she was informed, I would say she does bare some guilt. She had already waited a while to do it, what would enough time to see him through the heart issues have cost her? It's elective surgery. I equate it to having a boob job or a tummy tuck, UNLESS it's for religious reasons.

bless... blessedquiver

tummy tuck, UNLESS it's for religious reasons.

I have 5 sons...4 which are intact. My first son was born when I was a very young woman and so shy I was scared to ask questions. I heard my son crying in the nursery, pushed the nurse call button, and waited. When the nurse came she had a permission slip for me to sign. I asked her to please bring me my son. She refused until I signed the piece of paper giving them permission to circ him. I was still debating if I could go through with it. I asked again for my son, and she said that it would be a few because they had already circed him!!!! Without my permission. Crying, I signed the permission slip. When they brought him to me, he was lethargic from screaming for 30 minutes, wouldn't nurse for several hours because they had given him a bottle of sugar water and was damaged. Not only had they not asked permission first, they had botched the job. The tip of his penis has a scar from where too much skin was removed. He is now 21, almost 22. He shyly told me when he was younger that when he gets an erection that it is painful, because the skin pulls so badly. I can honestly say that the woman I am today would have kicked some booty for what was done to my son. My heart was broken, and I was horrified at how they could have taken that decision from me.

bless... blessedquiver

Needless to say, my other 4 sons are intact. As will be the one due in Jan.

Just another note...when a bris is done, very little skin is actually taken off. It's more of a blood sacrifice/symbol to God. When a circ is done in the hospital, the majority of the "extra" flesh is taken. Much more than is done for the original reason a circ was done. NOT that I would do either.

Another thing, I have two teenage sons, both intact who have never had any issues. They have learned to keep themselves clean, and the skin fully retracts..NO I haven't looked since they were toddlers :) I also have two toddlers, one 4, the other 2 1/2. Both have learned to keep their stuff clean, and they fully retract as well. So, yes, I am glad I left it like it was made. The only one with any problems is the one that did get circed.

Frank McGinness

I feel for Joshua's family. I hope someine brings them food. This kind jesture was done for me when someone very close died. I'm an intactivist. Education is key. Read the world's penis expert John Taylor on circumcision & the heart. Header: Oct.2009

From a caring intactivist on facebook Baby Joshua's death Cardiac arrest after circumcision is enough to be reviewed by coroner. DOC gets involved

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