Queens doctor targeted over circumcisions

Intaction, an anti-circumcision advocacy group, marched to the home of a Queens doctor. Photo courtesy Anthony Losquadro
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An organization advocating against circumcision of baby boys targeted a Queens doctor in its latest demonstration.

A group of about 18 protesters marched in front of the Forest Hills Gardens home of Dr. Susan Blank and along Union Turnpike, according to Anthony Losquadro, founder and executive director of the Brooklyn-based Intaction.

Blank is chairwoman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Task Force on Circumcision, which last year updated its policy on the procedure to say that research indicates it is associated with some health benefits.

Intaction, which argues that circumcision is akin to female genital mutilation, wants the AAP to retract the policy. They believe the decision of whether to be circumcised should be left up to men when they are adults.

Blank could not be reached for comment.

He said anti-circumcision activists have sent thousands of letters and e-mails to the academy, but have received no response, so they took the next step by protesting.

“Our intent was to make sure our message gets heard,” Losquadro said.

The AAP’s previous policy statement noted only “potential medical benefits” from the procedure.

The task force evaluated peer-reviewed literature from 1995 through 2010 and determined that there are some benefits.

The policy, published in 2012, states: “The evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.”

Specific benefits include the prevention of some sexually transmitted infections, such as HIV, as well as penile cancer and urinary tract infections, according to the policy.

The AAP maintains the procedure is well-tolerated when performed by trained professionals under sterile conditions and appropriate pain management. Complications are generally infrequent and minor and newborns have especially low complication rates.

“Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns,” the policy states. “It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner.”

The AAP declined to comment.

Losquadro emphasized that the group’s members come from a variety of religious backgrounds and ethnicities and respect that some parents choose circumcision for religious reasons.

“We have no desire to interfere with anyone’s practice of their religious beliefs,” he said.

“As an infant boy, you get no say in the matter,” he continued. “Parents and doctors are following the advice of the academy. Babies have no say. We have to be their voice.”

Reach reporter Bianca Fortis by email at or by phone at 718-260-4546.

Posted 12:00 am, November 24, 2013
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Reader feedback

Andrew says:
Opponents of circumcision: Nothing will turn society against your cause than if you move beyond hospitals and medical conferences and harass someone at her own home. So I implore you: please continue to protest at residences of AAP physicians and other circumcision proponents.
Nov. 24, 2013, 8:16 am
Carl says:
The American Academy of Pediatrics needs to get with the rest of the developed world and recommend AGAINST the practice of routine infant circumcision.

Andrew, society is becoming more aware of the horrifying facts about circumcision. Sorry if this bothers you. Maybe you should ask yourself why?

Maybe it is time YOU joined the protesters?
Nov. 24, 2013, 9:32 am
Carl says:
I support the protesters. They should also know that they have the support of tens of thousands of informed people across the entire country. We applaud you!
Nov. 24, 2013, 9:50 am
Andrew says:
Carl: While circumcision opponents have become more vocal and in-your-face in recent years, support for infant circumcision hasn't changed. With the exception of the Western states, which have had a massive influx of immigration from non-circumcising cultures, in every other region in the United States the rate of hospital neonatal circumcision was virtually the same in 2010 as the rate in 1979.
Nov. 24, 2013, 10:42 am
Michael Roloff from rockaways says:

What is lacking in all the talk about circumcision is discussion of its archeological dimension - that it is the left over of human sacrifice. What kind of god is it that demands that of an infant? If the Bris constitutes the identity of the male, what about the identity of a Jewish girl? Or is this an entirely homosexual ceremony?

Also, unfortunately it is / has been circumcision that has MADE for no end of anti-semitic sentiments. Freud found that it was the chief reason for unconscious anti-Semitism. And the myths surrounding it are at the core of the “blood libel.” Thus, it's time to eliminate the Brit Milah because if that is the chief reason for being anti-Semitic or anti-Abrahamic [Islam too practices the rite] then why hang on to this left-over of human sacrifice? that traumatizes the child, cutting off 5,000 nerves, that is the equivalent of female circumcision in the sense that it eliminates everything but the clitoris,and only serves the Ultra Orthodox to maintain their power? After all, reform Judaism sought to eliminate the rite in the 19th century, and Jewish identity depends on being born by a Jewish mother, or converting. Here a link to an archive of the entire German and then some debate, note especially Michael Wolffsohn's two pieces . Circumcision has been controversial also within Jewry forever.

Nov. 24, 2013, 10:52 am
Norm from US says:
The picket at a well-respected, Jewish woman doctor's home was a bad idea. It makes the perpetrator appear to be a victim, thereby giving her and others the opportunity to shift the debate to something other than the rights of the child.

The answer to the anti-circumcision debate in Europe has been to play the anti-Semitism card, as in "you're just trying to exterminate us Jews again".

Those who stand for the rights of the child above religious superstition and medical pseudoscience must seize the highest moral ground.
Nov. 24, 2013, 10:59 am
Kevin from Midtown Manhattan says:
Andrew: Western States are part of the US, and with rates in the West down to ~20%, it's hardly being driven by immigrants alone.

Moreover, your data is 3 years old. Since then Intactivism has exploded, with more and more parents and doctors understanding that it is a cultural barbarity akin to female or intersex genital mutilation (both of which the AAP has also supported coincidentally).

In 2010, >10,000 San Francisco residents petitioned supporting an age restriction on make genial cutting.

In 2011, Frisch et al showed in the Oxford medical journal that circumcised men and their partners were 2.5X as likely to suffer frequent orgasm difficulties.

In 2012, a German judge ruled that cutting the genitals of a minute child is an assault and a crime, after a Koln boy nearly died.

In 2013, 40 doctors including the heads of 17 national pediatric associations published a paper in Pediatrics calling the AAP's position culturally biased and scientifically unsustainable, arguing that it's time the genital cutting of boys stopped.

Also in 2013, the Council of Europe (PACE), Europe's preeminent human rights body, passed a resolution on the rights of the child that named male child Circumcision a human rights violation, right next to FGM. The Children's Ombudsmen from five Nordic countries also agreed to work towards a legal age restriction in their countries.

Get with the times. There is no excuse for sexually mutilating children. We shouldn't have to keep reading about these stories like the Memphis boy last month who lost his whole pen1s.

What sick urge of yours makes you think it's "okay" to carve up a little child's sex organs?

Nov. 24, 2013, 11:08 am
Melinda B. says:
I am 100% against the genital cutting of minors. However, intactivists like this sicken me. How would you feel if someone protested outside your home? Would you appreciate it? Would you be OK with seeing your children scared because of it?

Stop making us look like stalkers. Going to peoples homes won't change any minds, but it WILL turn more people away from our movement.

Protest their jobs instead.
Nov. 24, 2013, 11:21 am
GregH from Pittsburgh says:
As a long-time intactivist, I have no desire to interfere with anyone's religion. However, an infant cannot have religious beliefs. Cutting away the most sensitive portion of his privates is a violation of HIS freedom of religion. He may choose to follow a religion different than his parents.
Nov. 24, 2013, 12:12 pm
Steve from California says:
Kudos to these protesters! The AAP can't tout infant circumcision one day, and then withdraw back to anonymity the next. Its personal for babies, hence the protesters have every right to protest at the Chief circumcision promoters house, and let everyone in her neighborhood know about her ethical failings.

The protesters are also right on about staying out of the religious fray. Blank and the AAP are promoting medical circumcisions, so this has nothing to do with religion. If there are Jews and Muslims against circumcision, then they can take up the cause inside their respective communities and don't drag gentiles into their fight.
Nov. 24, 2013, 2:57 pm
Craig from New Jersey says:
Thank you protestors for standing up for the rights of helpless baby boys!!

When are Americans going to admit sexually mutilating infants is wrong and stop this horrible violation of human rights?

This relic of 19th century clueless medicine continues only in America despite the fact that we now know how valuable the foreskin is to sexual pleasure and to protection of the glans. Botched circumcisions are much more common than parents are led to believe. There are two dozen surgical risks. We now know babies feel pain more than adults do, and those babies that stop crying during a circumcision are actually in a state of traumatic shock.

As a legal matter, the rule is that physicians cannot operate on healthy children. Boys, like girls and adults, have absolute rights under the common law, constitutional law, and human rights law to bodily and hence to genital integrity, to be free from harm, and to choose their own religion or no religion. Physicians have a legal duty to protect boys from circumcision.

To all expectant parents: watch a circumcision video and trust your feelings and instincts. Study infant torture devices Gomco Glamp, Mogen Clamp, Plastibell, Circumstraint. You will most certainly want to protect your baby from unethical doctors and their knives and torture devices.
Nov. 24, 2013, 3:11 pm
Jon from Baltimore, Md. says:
This isn't just any dr., but one who signed her name to a public, widely publicized statement by a respected group of medical professionals in favor of the genital mutilation of helpless infants--a procedure that may kill the patient (make that VICTIM), or leave him without a functional sex organ! (Blank has also refused to discuss the AAP statement w/its opponents.) Normally I might agree w/the "Don't bug them at home" stance but if anyone deserves this treatment, she does. The protest lasted a short while...the damage inflicted by circumcision is forever.
Nov. 24, 2013, 3:13 pm
M. Thomas from Flordia says:
Melinda B.: "How would you feel if someone protested outside your home? Would you appreciate it? Would you be OK with seeing your children scared because of it?"

How would you feel if this doctor strapped you down, and mutilated your genital w/out your consent. How you feel if you had to live with what she did to you for the rest of your life?

This is a good strategic move. The problem we have is that pro-intact doctors are afraid to speak out, and remain in the closet. While pro-mutilation doctors push their agenda in the open. To combat this problem he need to push pro-mutilation doctors into the closet, and coax pro-intact doctors out of the closet.

We want the pro-mutilation doctors to think, "Gee do I really want twenty angery people in front of my house?" The more expensive it is to express an opinion the less likely people will be to voice that opinion.

On the flip side we need to throw 'comming out' parties, for pro-intact doctors that start to speak up.
Nov. 24, 2013, 3:37 pm
James Loewen from Vancouver says:
Good strategic move. The quack "doctors" who promote cutting the genitals of children hide in ivory towers, behind professional credentials, willfully disconnected from the repercussions of their actions. As Intaction's founder Anthony Losquadro explained in video coverage (YouTube) of the event, "this is personal."

As far as protecting only the rights of children cut for non religious excuses, I think all children must be protected, religion is not an excuse for child sacrifice, or partial child sacrifice. This may however be a good tactic for Intaction to take, time will tell how effective this is.
Nov. 24, 2013, 3:55 pm
Tessa says:

The AAP claims 1% risk of UTI, a 0.00001% risk of penile cancer, or 1% risk of phimosis justifies neonatal circumcision. 9-11% of boys that are circumcised develop meatal stenosis. Two studies have shown that 3% - 71% of boys develop adhesions. Other studies have suggested the rate of complication is 3%, which even on the conservative end, is still greater than the risk of UTI, penile cancer and phimosis combined. Concerning UTIs, if 1000 well boys are circumcised, 8-10 infections may be prevented, but 20 will have a complication related to the circumcision. So the RISKS of circumcision surgery OUTWEIGH the BENEFITS. Circumcision causes more harm than it prevents.
Nov. 24, 2013, 4:12 pm
Hugh7 from New Zealand says:
I agree they would have been better to picket her office than her home, but that shouldn't detract from their message. Infant genital cutting of either sex is a human rights violation. Why are boys not protected?

When the AAP itself says "health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns" why do they then give every impression of recommending it? And they did NOT show that the benefits outweigh the risks, or that the decision should be left to parents.

By their own figures, more than 100 circumcisions would be wasted to prevent one urinary tract infection, more than 1000 to prevent one penile cancer (in a man with an easily detected and treated abnormality of his foreskin), and the evidence that circumcision has any effect on STDs, including HIV, is ambivalent.

Their policy was slammed by 38 heads and spokespeople for the paediatric bodies of most of Europe (because it was being used to support a law in Germany that would allow infant circumcision, contrary to their Basic Law). It may come as a surprise to Americans that not just Europe, but the whole of the rest of the developed world does not cut boy babies.

And the experiment has been done: circumcision rose in the rest of the English-speaking world in parallel with the USA until most Australian and New Zealand boys were cut in the 1950s. After public funding for it was cut and public hospitals (where most babies were born) stopped doing it, the rate fell away again, and now a generation has grown up looking different from their fathers. No problems with that, and no outbreaks of any of the diseases circumcision was touted as preventing.
Nov. 24, 2013, 6:48 pm
Andrew says:
In the Northeast there was no rate change from 1979 to 2010.
In the Midwest the rate decreased 3.3% from 1979 to 2010.
In the South the rate increased 2.6% from 1979 to 2010.

Over the 31-year period the rate did fluctuate in all regions, but the fluctuation appears to be due to the changing stances of the American medical community and the coverage for circumcision -- or lack thereof -- by insurance companies. When the AMA and AAP issued advisories promoting the benefits of circumcision, the rate of hospital neonatal circumcisions rose. When the AMA and AAP issued advisories against routine neonatal circumcision, the rate dropped. When insurance stopped covering neonatal circumcision in various states, the rate dropped.

Based on the AAP's 2012 statement clarifying that the benefits of neonatal circumcision outweigh the risks, it's more likely that parents will respond by choosing circumcision, and the rate will once again climb. And based on the AAP's recommendation that insurance should cover the procedure, it's likely that state Medicare and insurance companies will revisit the issue and will reinstitute coverage, which also will increase the rate.

If you are claiming that the rate of neonatal circumcision in the United States has decreased since 2010, you are welcome to offer evidence to support your assertion.
Nov. 24, 2013, 6:51 pm
terri from in PA says:
The only problems I have with this are that I wasn't able to be there and that she is still hiding from her insane stance. So much for the AAP being a respected group of medical professionals.
Nov. 24, 2013, 6:53 pm
Andrew says:
Michael Roloff's comment summarized: Jewish behavior is responsible for anti-Semitism. If only the Jews would change, then anti-Semitism would decrease or end altogether.
Nov. 24, 2013, 6:56 pm
olivierpascal says:
This article is sloppy journalism: the policy in fact says specific benefits include the reduction (not the prevention!) of some sexually transmitted infections as well as penile cancer and urinary tract infections.
Nov. 24, 2013, 7:11 pm
olivierpascal says:
By the way, this policy is very controversial:

38 presidents and representatives of several national medical associations and societies of pediatricians and pediatric surgeons from 16 countries: “There are no compelling health arguments in favor of circumcision, while it can have serious long-term urological, psychological and sexual consequences. And performing medically unwarranted circumcision of underage boys conflicts with good medical practice. Male infant circumcision conflicts with children’s rights and the doctors’ oath not to do harm.”
Nov. 24, 2013, 7:16 pm
Gary from Los Angeles says:
Instead of arguing politics and picketing policy how about looking at the anatomical facts: Neurologically, the most specialized pressure-sensitive cells in the human body are Meissner’s corpuscles for localized light touch and fast touch, Merkel’s disc cells for light pressure and tactile form and texture, Ruffini’s corpuscles for slow sustained pressure, deep skin tension, stretch, flutter and slip, and Pacinian corpuscles for deep touch and detection of rapid external vibrations. They are found only in the tongue, lips, palms, fingertips, nipples, and the clitoris and the crests of the ridged band at the tip of the male foreskin. These remarkable cells process tens of thousands of information impulses per second and can sense texture, stretch, and vibration/movement at the micrometre level. These are the cells that allow blind people to "see" Braille with their fingertips. Cut them off and, male or female, it's like trying to read Braille with your elbow. A woman can live without the sensitivity of the visible part of her clitoris. A man can live without the mobile and most sensitive part of his penis. But, both men and women are better off with their natural fine-touch parts intact. And so are their sexual partners.
Nov. 24, 2013, 8:20 pm
LucidFir from Idaho says:
Let's cut to the chase.

Circumcision kills over 100 babies a year in the USA.

Should we be performing routine infant massectomy to prevent breast cancer? It's 100 times as common as penile cancer...

The only 100% preventative method against penile cancer? Castration. So, circumcision is pointless.
Nov. 25, 2013, 3:13 am
Jackieno from Nassau Co. says:
Real population data shows no lowering of STDs, HIV and HPV by cutting off male genital parts. A study of sorts has been ongoing for more than 50 years. The results are in. Cut men (men that have had parts of their genitals cut off as a baby) get HIV and STDS at a higher rate -- natural (intact) EU has much lower HIV and STD rate than cut US. Shouldn't that just end this mutilation campaign by high HIV risk partial genital Americans??

People need to note that study after study after study shows the obvious, the parts cut off are useful, erogenous and men missing the parts can and do have problems. Humans have known this for centuries. It is silly to claim otherwise.

EVERY HUMAN (male and female) has the RIGHT (a human right) to reach adulthood with all of their tissue (particularly all of their erogenous tissue) that THEIR genetic code dictates.
Nov. 25, 2013, 10:10 am
Rood from Phoenix, Arizona USA says:
Every Criminal Code of every State strictly forbids sexual assaults against children, and there's no reason why Male Genital Mutilation should be excepted.

Any person, including Dr. Blank, who advocates the mutilation of the genitals of infants and adolescents should be arrested and charged with advocating the sexual abuse of children. Those doctors and parents who do mutilate the genitals of those who haven't given their assent should also be arrested and charged.
Nov. 25, 2013, 12:43 pm
Rob from Brooklyn says:
I do not want to debate about forced circumcision with the Jewish community. I rejected the Jewish religion before I became an adult, and I should not have been forced as an infant to have Judaism carved into my body for the rest of my life.

I want to be protected by our government against forced circumcision by the Jewish Community, or any other religious community.

When I was held down as an infant by one of my family members while a fanatical Jewish religious cleric forcibly amputated the most sensitive part of my penis without my consent, my human rights and my religious freedom were irreparably violated.

Despite my parents' fanatical religion, I am a human being, and I am deserving of human rights. The government needs to protect all people from forced circumcision, including infants and children who are born to Jewish and Muslim parents. We are all equal under the law in the U.S.A. It is disgusting and wrong that some people think that it is OK to deny me my human rights and equality as a U.S. citizen because of my parents' religion.

If Anthony Losquado and Intaction "respect that some parents choose circumcision for religious reasons", then they are showing a complete lack of respect for human rights and individual religious freedom.
Nov. 25, 2013, 3:36 pm
Matt from Pittsburg says:
Rob from Brooklyn > You should take the issue up with your parents and your religious community. I think it is clear from the article this organization is focusing on medical circumcisions only, hence Blank is a AAP doctor.

If you want to fight religious circumcision, then do it as a Jew fighting circumcision and stop trying to get non-Jews to fight your battle for you.
Nov. 25, 2013, 7:30 pm
Richard Russell from Los Angeles says:
@ Matt from Pittsburg: Glick reports that 70% of Jewish boys circumcised in the US are cut in a hospital a day after birth and NOT at a bris on the 8th day. Rob is right to comment here. The two practices are inextricably intertwined, both in the American psyche and in mutual support of each other. (Leonard Glick, MD, PhD, _Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision from Ancient Judea to Modern America_. Oxford Univ Press, 2006.) Choose you cult: Temple of Medicine is available to all comers.
Nov. 26, 2013, 4:30 am
Yves from Tribeca says:
Whatever is holding that doctor or religious zealots, to recognize and come to a compromise more humane with modern times, and remove the boulder at the crux of this controversy?
Which is to move the AGE to perform such surgical (choice?) measures to an age where the patient can CONSENT?
What is the problem to do that? Done that, done with the protesters.
Nov. 26, 2013, 12:44 pm
Rob from Brooklyn says:
@Matt from "Pittsburg"

I am not a Jew. My parents are Jewish. I rejected the Jewish religion in my early teenage years. As a U.S. citizen, it is my right to choose a different religion than my parents, or to choose to have no religion at all. Do not label me as something that I am not. The Jewish community is not MY religious community. They are the religious community that violated my human rights and my religious freedom by forcing their permanent religious genital mutilation on me without my consent. The U.S. government should have been there to protect me, a U.S. Citizen, against their forced genital mutilation ritual, just as they should be there to protect babies from being non-consensually circumcised in hospitals.

You telling me as a victim of Jewish religious forced circumcision that I should, "take the issue up with your parents and your religious community," is no different than if you told a victim of forced medicalized circumcision in a hospital that he should just take the issue up with his parents, the individual doctor who circumcised him, and the individual hospital where it happened.

You are arguing that because my parents are Jewish, I should not be entitled to the human rights and religious freedom that every other U.S. citizen is entitled to. Your argument is extremely racist, xenophobic, and un-american. We live in a secular democracy and not a confessional theocracy. The Jewish community should have no authority over my body, and I should not have to take up issues with a religious community that I am not even a part of, and that I have no desire to be a part of.

The battle for human rights is everybody's battle. All human beings, regardless of race, gender, nationality, national origin, ethnicity, religion, or parents' religion have the right to bodily integrity, security of the person, human dignity, bodily autonomy, and sexual autonomy. You are arguing that only some people have these rights, and that Jews, Muslims, and the descendants of Jews and Muslims should be denied these rights. Well I am a human being, and as a human being, I demand the same human rights as everybody else. If you support, defend, or respect religious forced circumcision whist being fully aware of how harmful it actually is to the victim, then you are no better than the Jewish and Muslim religious fanatics who are trying to prevent forced male circumcision from being banned in Europe.
Nov. 28, 2013, 3:32 am
Matt from Pittsburgh says:
( you told a victim of forced medicalized circumcision in a hospital that he should just take the issue up with his parents, the individual doctor who circumcised him, and the individual hospital where it happened. ) Yeah that would be a good place to start!

(and I should not have to take up issues with a religious community that I am not even a part of, and that I have no desire to be a part of. ) So you condemn Jewish and Muslim babies to mutilation because you can't get involved? But its ok for gentiles to get involved FOR YOU?

(The battle for human rights is everybody's battle.)
No, it's not. We get to pick which battles we choose to fight. You pick yours , he picks his, and I pick mine.

If you want human rights and religious freedom, then fight for it. Freedom isn't free, and don't expect others to fight your fights.
Nov. 28, 2013, 10:41 am
Frank McGinness from Castro, San Francisco says:
No one should have the right to cut a person without their permission. Without medical need. It should not be legal to use children's, excuse me, boy's bodies as billboards to advertise parental or societal beliefs of religion or disease. A point I like to SHOW is foreskin restoration is one way to stop others from continuing to use my body for their sick beliefs when naked. I now use my body for intactness and intactivism. "Permitless nudists avoid arrest"
Dec. 17, 2013, 1:49 am
Patrick oMalley from Elmhurst says:
My wife claimed she and all her friends think uncircumsized penises are gross. According to wiki the number one reason to cut is so the boy wont look different than dad. Bottom line is after all these years humans are just as dumb. Dont doubt the religious prejudice of these AAP docs. Doctors are stupid too. I am one and i let my wife have our boy chopped.
Dec. 28, 2013, 3:03 pm

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