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Title:Baby Mario Circumcised Without Permission

Baby Mario was born this summer in a South Miami, Florida, hospital. Due to complications (some type of infection), baby Mario was in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for ten days. While in the hospital, Mario's mother Vera Delgado explicitly and repeatedly told the hospital staff that she did not want her son circumcised. She refused to sign the consent form for the circumcision surgery.

Despite all this, Mario was circumcised. On the eighth day of Mario's stay in the NICU and after Vera Delgado left her son's side to go home and shower, a doctor removed baby Mario from the NICU and circumcised him. Without consent. Without the parents being present. Without consideration that the infant was in the NICU and should not have to undure the stress of circumcision surgery.

What motivates a doctor to circumcise an infant like this? In Mario's case, the doctor was female, so she should not have the circumcision bias that many circumcised male doctors have to perpetuate the harm that was done to them. Possibly the motivation was that the cutting doctor went to medical school in the Philippines, where it is common for adolescent boys to be circumcised or tuli.

Perhaps the motivation was the hospital putting pressure on the doctors to perform neonatal circumcisions. After all, hospitals make money from doing procedures, even unnecessary ones like circumcision. Most hospitals charge from $300 to $900 for an infant circumcision. Then there are the fees for the incidentals, like the surgical drape, antiseptic, anesthesia - if any is used, etc. Currently, in the United States just under 1,000,000 baby boys are circumcised every year. Infant circumcision is a billion dollar industry with little risk for the hospitals and doctors. Patients cannot complain and any surgical complications occur after the surgery and can be readily attributed to other causes (bleeding, improper surgery wound care).

Regardless of the motivation behind the circumcision, the hospital's and the doctor's eagerness to circumcise Mario will prove to be costly. The Delgados are suing the hospital and the doctor. Attorney Spencer Aronfeld filed suit Monday.

It is telling that the baby boy was circumcised only after the mother left the NICU to make a quick trip home. It seems like the hospital considered her absence as an opportunity to circumcise the baby regardless of the wishes of the parents. The fact that they waited until her absence to circumcise Mario will help tremendously in their lawsuit against the hospital and doctor. I only hope that they take the case all the way to a jury trial instead of settling for an undisclosed amount.

Mario's unauthorized circumcision is not an isolated incident. Reading mothering and parenting blogs, I see many comments where a parent describes how the son was circumcised without their knowledge or consent. Unfortunately, the prevailing attitude is that the circumcision cannot be undone, so it is accepted. Too often those in a hospital surrender responsibility for their care to the doctors and hospital staff. And, too often those with the authority misuse it for their monetary gain.

Fortunately, the circumcision culture of the United States is changing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently announced that the male infant circumcision rate in the United States was 32.5% in 2009. Fewer boys are having part of their sex organ cut off shortly after birth.

Mario's Law

What happened to Mario may well result in changing the circumcision culture in the United States even more. The Delgados and their attorney, Spencer Aronfeld, are seeking enactment of a bill to prevent genital cutting of infant boys. The proposal, nicknamed Mario's Law, will prevent hospitals from performing circumcisions without medical need while the baby is still in the hospital after birth. Vera Delgado feels that the hospital unduly encouraged her to have her son circumcised even though she and the baby's father did not want it done.

This is not the first time a bill against male infant circumcision (male genital mutilation) has been proposed. Recently, Massachusetts considered a similar bill. Unfortunately, the MGM Bill was shot down, although it did much to raise awareness of the circumcision issue.


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