Tuesday, June 01, 2010

AAP Reverses Policy on Female Genital Cutting

This story didn't get much prominence in the news with all the other things that are going on, but I think it's an interesting development and relevant to topics we discuss here. Amnesty International estimates that 130,000,000 women in the world have undergone the procedure known variously as female circumcision, female mutilation, or female genital cutting. The procedure is mostly practiced in Asian and African countries, and though it varies, female genital mutilation generally consists in removal of the external female genitalia, especially the clitoris and clitoral hood.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently passed a new rule allowing doctors to perform a "ceremonial pinprick, or small nick," in situations where families wanted this done to their daughters. After an outcry, the AAP rescinded the rule.

One thing should be made clear from the start: female circumcision is nothing like male circumcision. Guys might argue about whether there sexual pleasure is greater or less with a foreskin, but there is no objective measure that shows any significant difference one way or the other. There may be health issues that are affected by the presence or absence of the male foreskin, but basically it is a sheath of skin with no function. (I know there are people who are adamantly opposed to circumcision, I don't care to argue with you here. The point is, the penis functions just fine either way.)

There are four levels of female circumcision, and even the lowest level involves removal of the clitoris. You will find that newspapers don't like to publish the word clitoris, you can read entire articles on this subject that do not use the word, and we may see this as a not-so-subtle expression of profound sexism. The clitoris does have a function: it is the key to orgasm for women. The only reason to remove it would be to reduce the pleasure that a woman experiences in sex. And why would you want to do that? There is no answer that does not lead to a conclusion of oppressive patriarchal sexism.

The American Academy of Pediatrics published a policy statement that has been removed from their web site (even though their home page still has a link to it). I will quote from Psychology Today blogger Paul Raeburn, who seems to have some involvement in the issue and had access to the original documents.
The American Academy of Pediatrics was suggesting that a less damaging "clitoral nick" might be a reasonable alternative to the more dangerous and disfiguring genital cutting practiced by a variety of cultures around the world.

"There is reason to believe," the AAP said in its statement, "that offering such a compromise may build trust between hospitals and immigrant communities, save some girls from undergoing disfiguring and life-threatening procedures in their native countries, and play a role in the eventual eradication of FGC [female genital cutting]."

The idea was that pediatricians who were asked to perform a genital cut would, as an alternative, propose a "clitoral nick," a very small cut, that might satisfy the cultural imperative without harming the child. AAP sputters, then retracts policy on female genital cutting

So you as a doctor would wheel the girl into the operating room, assemble a surgical team, shut the doors and take your sterile scalpel out, make a meaningless incision somewhere in her genital region, wheel her to recovery, and parade out to the waiting room to tell the proud parents -- almost certainly of African or Asian heritage -- that the procedure had been done. I can see why the AAP would think this was okay, you can make the family happy without doing the damage that the actual mutilation technique does.

Except -- this is America, and we don't do that here. We do not think it's okay to surgically alter women's bodies to make it harder for them to have orgasms. The Psychology Today piece continues:
Apparently the pediatricians were having their own problems restraining their views. I just received an email saying that the AAP "reaffirms it's strong opposition to FGC and counsels its members not to perform such procedures. As typically practiced, FGC can be life-threatening. Little girls who escape death are still vulnerable to sterility, infection, and psychological trauma."The AAP does not endorse the practice of offering a 'clitoral nick.' This minimal pinprick is forbidden under federal law and the AAP does not recommend it to its members."

Here's how CNN presented the AAP's turnabout:
The American Academy of Pediatrics has rescinded a controversial policy statement raising the idea that doctors in some communities should be able to substitute demands for female genital cutting with a harmless clitoral "pricking" procedure.

"We retracted the policy because it is important that the world health community understands the AAP is totally opposed to all forms of female genital cutting, both here in the U.S. and anywhere else in the world," said AAP President Judith S. Palfrey.

The contentious policy statement, issued in April, had condemned the practice of female genital cutting overall. But a small portion of statement suggesting the pricking procedure riled U.S. advocacy groups and survivors of female genital cutting.

In the April statement, the group raised the idea that some physicians should be able to prick or nick a girl's clitoral skin in order to "satisfy cultural requirements." The group likened the nick to an ear piercing.

On Thursday the AAP stated the group will not condone doctors to provide any kind of "clitoral nick." The AAP also clarified nicking a girl or woman's genitals is forbidden under a 1996 federal law banning female genital mutilation. Pediatricians now reject all female genital cutting

It is notable here that female genital mutilation has no religious rationale. Neither the Muslim nor Coptic faiths require it or endorse it, in fact, fatwas have been issued against it. It is a practice that goes back at least to the days of the Pharaohs.

The USA has always been a haven for immigrants, and when they come here they bring customs from their homelands -- and they give some up. There are some things we don't eat, for instance, monkeys and cats and dogs, lots of things. There are kinds of marriage practices that are fine where you came from, but you won't do that here. Some countries are banning burqas, we haven't gone that far but it could happen. And one thing we are not going to do in this country is let you cut up women's genitals to diminish their sexual response.

The AAP may have thought they had a clever way to make everybody happy, but unh-uh, it's not going to happen here.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

off subject.
were the democrats (all of them) on this blog aware that there is NO FEDERAL ESTATE tax WHATSOVER this year ?

Ie, estates of 200 billion pay no federal estate tax this year....

what a great year to die...

and next year, with the bush tax cuts, it goes back to 1 million....

democrats have the house and the senate and the white house...

WTF ????


I was just trying to figure out what to do about my moms, who is over a million but under 3.5 (where obama wants it) because of course you can plan and avoid quite a bit....

and realized that our brilliant congress never did anything...
they haven't extended or changed the bush tax cuts, and this year the inheritance tax is gone.

Hmmm... how many billionaires died this year ?

govt estimates 70000 estate returns will be filed this year up from 5000, I guess there is stuff you can do afterwards or before....

how do you defend this ? no budget, and no taxes on even folks republicans think should have estate taxes levied.

wow, what a stark inability to govern.

June 01, 2010 11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


wow, what idiots.

June 01, 2010 11:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Federal estate tax was never a major source of revenue for the government

the real rationale is simple resentment of the wealthy

the result is often that family businesses have to be sold to pay estate taxes

the estate tax is bad for society and should be permanently abolished

people pay tax when they earn income throughout their life

why should they pay again, on the same funds, when they die?

June 02, 2010 4:17 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

It's good they corrected their mistake.

Here's another group correcting a mistake, well maybe. The University of Texas may be changing the name of one of their dormitories since they found out it was named for a leader of the KKK.

June 02, 2010 8:17 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Here's one for your off-topic topic:

Should Billionaires Pay Lower Taxes Than Everyone Else?, which asks Is it fair that they pay tax on their extravagant incomes at only a 15% rate when everyone else in the country has to pay up to 35%?

June 02, 2010 8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Billionaires pay most of the tax revenue that the rest of us receive benefits from

their rate is lower because the government has passed all kinds of tax laws that we save them money of they do what the government wants

it's an illusion

they're supporting most of the population

June 02, 2010 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Under the Bush administration, the incomes of middle-range households stagnated. Workers with earnings in the lower range lost more ground and, taking inflation into consideration, on average earned less than they did in 2000. From the end of 2001 to the end of 2007, two-thirds of the nation’s total income gain flowed to the highest-income 1 percent of Americans. Between 1992 and 2007, the average income of the top 400 households, after federal income taxes, increased by 475 percent.

In the long run, conservative policies have made a serious income inequality problem even worse. Adjusted pre-tax household income grew just 13.2% between 1992 and 2007 for the median family of four, but surged 409% for the top 400 households. Now the combined net worth of the Forbes 400 wealthiest Americans is almost as much as the combined net worth of the lower 50 percent of all American households ($1.5 trillion v. $1.6 trillion). This redistribution translates to income inequality in America reaching levels not seen since the Gilded Age.

Income inequality in the United States is so bad, we rank 77th among countries worldwide, tied with Georgia, Tunisia and Turkmenistan. And among OECD countries, we rank close to last in terms of income equality.

PolitiFact reports:

During the campaign, the independent Tax Policy Center researched how Obama's tax proposals would affect workers. It concluded 94.3 percent of workers would receive a tax cut under Obama's plan based on the tax credit to offset payroll taxes. According to the analysis, the people who wouldn't get a tax cut are those who make more than $250,000 for couples or $200,000 for a single person. Obama said he intended to raise taxes on those high earners, a promise he reiterated during the State of the Union, and that revenue would offset the stimulus tax cut.

Because the stimulus act did give that broad-based tax cut to workers, we rate Obama's statement True.

June 02, 2010 3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This redistribution translates to income inequality in America reaching levels not seen since the Gilded Age."

this is a true Orwellianism

taking less from people is a redistribution?

it may come as a shock to the socialists who frequent this blog, but the purpose of government is not to even out income among all participants in our economy

capitalism promotes success by rewarding it

currently, socialist systems are teetering and capitalist countires are thriving

June 02, 2010 10:30 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

Sweden, for example?

June 03, 2010 4:59 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

taking less from people is a redistribution?

Giving tax cuts to millionaires while allowing the masses to stagnate, that's redistribution.

Bush's policies are one reason the US ended up tied with Georgia, Tunisia and Turkmenistan in 77th place in worldwide income inequity.

Also, taking in less money than you spend (on unfunded Medicare mandates that create donut holes in Rx payments for the elderly, for example) for 8 years is how you turn a $237 billion surplus into a $1.3 trillion deficit.

We voted for change in 2008 and as President Obama reminded us in Pittsburgh the other day, we got it!

"As November approaches, leaders in the other party will campaign furiously on the same economic arguments they've been making for decades...They gave us tax cuts that weren't paid for to millionaires who didn't need them. They gutted regulations and put industry insiders in charge of industry oversight. They shortchanged investments in clean energy and education, in research and technology. And despite all their current moralizing about the need to curb spending, this is the same crowd who took the record $237 billion surplus that President Clinton left them and turned it into a record $1.3 trillion deficit.. We can return to the failed economic policies of the past, or we can keep building a stronger future."

June 03, 2010 8:22 AM  

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