Big photos below.
Big photos below.

Circumcision is "state-sponsored genital cutting"? Advocates' message to Colorado pols

Should Medicaid payments for circumcision be cut off in Colorado?

That's the argument of The Whole Network, a national organization that's encouraging its members to contact Colorado legislators who might be thinking about reinstating such funding. A network spokeswoman says the fight has taken place behind the scenes at the State Capitol the past two years, and advocates are ready for another battle against what they see as harmful surgery on innocent victims.

"We believe that circumcision, and especially infant circumcision, is cosmetic surgery," stresses Sarah Kuester, whose also on the Whole Network's board of directors. "It's unnecessary, it's damaging, it's non-consensual, and there's almost never a medical need for it."

Why the focus on Colorado?

"Circumcision in Colorado was covered by Medicaid until 2011," she says. "Then it was budgeted out in 2012 -- and it was reintroduced and defeated in 2013 by a tie vote in the budget committee."

As for the current session, sources on the ground in Colorado -- the most prominent local organization opposing Medicaid funding for circumcision in the state is Colorado NoCirc -- reveal that "it's been brought up to the budget committee again," Kuester continues. "From what we understand, it hasn't gotten as far as it being actually introduced, but it's in the process. So this is a preemptive strike."

The pro-circumcision crowd "tries to pass it off as preventative surgery," Kuester allows -- the idea being that the removal of an infant boy's foreskin enhances hygiene, among other things.

A meme that also appears on the network's Facebook page.
A meme that also appears on the network's Facebook page.

But in her view, "the benefits absolutely do not outweigh the risks. If somebody wanted to give their baby a boob job, they'd be laughed off the face of the earth. But this kind of cosmetic surgery is practiced every day -- and we don't think Medicaid should pay for it."

Holding ground in Colorado is important, Kuester believes, because "Colorado is one of eighteen states that currently do not fund Medicaid circumcisions. But if it's reintroduced in Colorado, it could possibly be used as a tool in other states -- like, 'Colorado has reinstated it, so maybe we should, too.'"

Kuester feels the efforts to prevent such a development are off to a good start. Via e-mail, she points out that the action alert that went out to The Whole Network's 15,500 Facebook fans has already registered 17,000 views to date, and at least one Colorado legislator, Senator Vicki Marble, has responded with "I agree!!," which Kuester sees as encouraging.

"Basically, this is a human rights issue," she says. "To reintroduce state-sponsored genital cutting is a step in the wrong direction."

Continue to see The Whole Network action alert, plus a sample e-mail and contact information for members of the Colorado legislature.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

The Whole Network action alert, sample e-mail and Colorado legislator contact list:


We need your help to prevent Colorado Medicaid from paying for circumcision! We now have confirmation that one or more legislators in Colorado are currently trying to add circumcision to Colorado Medicaid via the budget, which is being written now. It is extremely important that we prevent this from happening. If Colorado starts paying for circumcision, other states may follow. We deeply appreciate your support!

We need you to contact the Colorado legislators immediately. Below you will find email addresses of the legislators, as well as a sample email you can use. Feel free to write your own message if you prefer, and please be respectful.

The most important people to contact are the 6 members of the Joint Budget Committee (JBC), and they are listed first below(*). After that, please contact the Democrats, and finally the Republicans.

Background: as you may know, Colorado Medicaid stopped paying for newborn circumcision in July 2011. Both in 2012 and 2013, certain legislators attempted to reinstate payment for circumcision, and they are trying again this year. In 2012, a state senator pushed a bill to force payment. This bill passed the CO Senate, but was narrowly defeated in the House. In 2013, the situation was even closer, with a similar measure failing by a tied vote of 3-3. We were very fortunate that it didn't pass!

In 2012 when we called on you for help, you answered in a big way, and it made a real difference! We need your help again - please take just a few minutes to send some emails (sample below). We cannot stress enough the importance of this battle in Colorado to the rest of the country.

It doesn't matter if you don't currently reside in Colorado - we still need your help!

We will be counting on your voices! Thank you! Craig Garrett

Sample e-mail:

Medicaid should not pay for circumcision

Every Medicaid dollar should go directly to real medical treatments to address the needs of the poor. Medicaid should not pay for cosmetic surgeries like circumcision.

The medical systems of Canada, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand do not pay for newborn circumcision. Seventeen other U.S. states also don't pay for it. They know that routine circumcision is unjustified medically and is a waste of healthcare resources.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is wrong.

The AAP omitted the fact that the foreskin is an important part of male anatomy with specific sexual, sensory, and protective functions.

The AAP failed to address the ethical problems with amputating healthy tissue from a child without that child's consent.

Other modern nations are not endorsing circumcision as an HIV prevention method. Infants are not sexually active, and HIV is more easily and more effectively prevented in other, less invasive ways such as education.

The AAP inadequately addressed the risks of circumcision, despite the fact that complications can and do happen, causing trauma to the child and adding to public healthcare costs.

The AAP is out of step with the medical organizations in other countries. Virtually all other medically advanced nations have reviewed the same data and they have concluded that circumcision is not worthwhile and may, in fact, be harmful.

Please oppose any attempt to force Colorado Medicaid to waste precious healthcare funds on this questionable and antiquated practice.

Sincerely, [your name]

Colorado Legislators (Senators and Representatives) (*budget committee first 6, Democrats, then Republicans)

Title Name (Last, First) Party E-mail *Rep Duran, Crisanta (D) *Rep May, Jenise (D) *Rep Gerou, Cheri (R) *Sen Steadman, Pat (D) *Sen Hodge, Mary (D) *Sen Lambert, Kent (R) Sen Aguilar, Irene (D) Sen Carroll, Morgan (D) Sen Guzman, Lucia (D) Sen Heath, Rollie (D) Sen Jahn, Cheri (D) Sen Johnston, Michael (D) Sen Jones, Matt (D) Sen Kefalas, John (D) Sen Kerr, Andy (D) Sen Newell, Linda (D) Sen Nicholson, Jeanne (D) Sen Schwartz, Gail (D) Sen Tochtrop, Lois (D) Sen Todd, Nancy (D) Sen Ulibarri, Jessie (D) Sen Zenzinger, Rachel (D) Rep Becker, KC (D) Rep Buckner, John (D) Rep Court, Lois (D) Rep Exum, Tony (D) Rep Ferrandino, Mark (D) Rep Fields, Rhonda (D) Rep Fischer, Randy (D) Rep Foote, Mike (D) Rep Garcia, Leroy M (D) Rep Ginal, Joann (D) Rep Hamner, Millie (D) Rep Hullinghorst, Dickey Lee (D) Rep Kagan, Daniel (D) Rep Kraft-Tharp, Tracy (D) Rep Labuda, Jeanne (D) Rep Lebsock, Steve (D) Rep Lee, Pete (D) Rep McCann, Beth (D) Rep McLachlan, Mike (D) Rep Melton, Jovan (D) Rep Mitsch Bush, Diane (D) Rep Moreno, Dominick (D) Rep Pabon, Dan (D) Rep Peniston, Cherylin (D) Rep Pettersen, Brittany (D) Rep Primavera, Dianne (D) Rep Rosenthal, Paul (D) Rep Ryden, Su (D) Rep Salazar, Joseph A (D) Rep Schafer, Sue (D) Rep Singer, Jonathan (D) Rep Tyler, Max (D) Rep Vigil, Edward (D) Rep Williams, Angela (D) Rep Young, Dave (D) Rep Buck, Perry (R) Rep Conti, Kathleen (R) Rep Coram, Don (R) Rep DelGrosso, Brian (R) Rep Dore, Timothy (R) Rep Everett, Justin (R) Rep Gardner, Bob (R) Rep Holbert, Chris (R) Rep Humphrey, Stephen (R) Rep Joshi, Janak (R) Rep Landgraf, Lois (R) Rep Lawrence, Polly (R) Rep McNulty, Frank (R) Rep Murray, Carole (R) Rep Navarro, Clarice (R) Rep Nordberg, Dan (R) Rep Priola, Kevin (R) Rep Rankin, Bob (R) Rep Saine, Lori (R) Rep Scott, Ray (R) Rep Sonnenberg, Jerry (R) Rep Stephens, Amy (R) Rep Swalm, Spencer (R) Rep Szabo, Libby (R) Rep Waller, Mark (R) Rep Wilson, Jim (R) Rep Wright, Jared (R) Sen Balmer, David (R) Sen Baumgardner, Randy (R) Sen Brophy, Greg (R) Sen Cadman, Bill (R) Sen Crowder, Larry (R) Sen Grantham, Kevin (R) Sen Harvey, Ted (R) Sen Herpin, Bernie (R) Sen Hill, Owen (R) Sen King, Steve (R) Sen Lundberg, Kevin (R) Sen Marble, Vicki (R) Sen Renfroe, Scott (R) Sen Rivera, George (R) Sen Roberts, Ellen (R) Sen Scheffel, Mark (R)

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Lists & Weirdness archive circa December 2011: "Is Denver the plastic-surgery capital of America?"

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