Doctors Opposing Circumcision is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization. D.O.C. was founded in 1995 by George C. Denniston, MD, MPH, a caring physician and professor of family medicine, who was troubled by American medicine’s routine approach to infant circumcision – and decided to take action. We now have members in many countries around the world.
D.O.C. works to empower parents and medical professionals with education, resources, and support, so that they can make thoughtful decisions regarding circumcision.
We want everyone to know that:
- The human penis is perfect as it is, with the foreskin intact.
- No medical organization in the world recommends routine infant circumcision.
- Boys have the right to keep the penis they were born with.
We are an international network of physicians dedicated to protecting the genital integrity and eventual autonomy of all children, serving both health professionals and the public through education, support, and advocacy.
We envision a world free from forced genital cutting, one where children’s rights are respected and their wholeness protected.
Statement of Principles
- Anatomy and function – The foreskin is a normal, healthy, valuable part of the human body, with multiple functions, both protective and sexual. Every effort should be made to protect and preserve this unique tissue.
- Medical non-necessity – There is no medical reason for infant circumcision. Infant circumcision is “non-therapeutic” because there is no disease or injury requiring treatment. No medical organization recommends circumcision as a routine procedure for all males. The foreskin is no more prone to problems than any other part of the body. If needed, conservative treatments are available and effective. Disease is best prevented by attention to simple hygiene and proven behavioral risk factors.
- Risks and harms – Circumcision entails a wide array of physical risks and emotional impacts, and detrimentally alters sexuality. These harms vastly outweigh any claimed benefit.
- Medical ethics and human rights – Circumcision is an irreversible, medically unnecessary procedure that removes a normal healthy body part from a non-consenting patient. As such, it violates every fundamental principle of medical ethics– beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, justice, and proportionality. It also violates numerous human rights principals , especially those pertaining to protecting children.
- Role of the health professional − D.O.C. urges all health care professionals to take their ethical obligations to patients seriously, by refusing to participate in infant circumcision and taking an active professional role to end it. Doctors should be healers, not brokers of harmful cultural practices.
- Genital autonomy – All children – male, female, and intersex – should be protected from medically unnecessary, non-consenting genital alteration. This includes gender assignment surgeries on intersex children, and “genital normalizing” surgery in the case of hypospadias and epispadias. D.O.C. endorses the 2012 Helsinki Declaration of the Right to Genital Autonomy.
- Adult choice – Adults too should not be subjected to medically unnecessary, non-consenting alterations of their genitals. Adults choosing elective genital alteration must be free from coercion, and fully informed of the attendant risks, harms, and losses.
- Gender equality – As in many other countries, females have been protected from genital cutting by U.S. federal law since 1997. Boys and intersex children deserve the same protection for their genital integrity and autonomy.
- Breastfeeding – Breastfeeding is very important to child health. The pain and trauma of circumcision interferes with the initiation of breastfeeding, as well as with the mother-child relationship.
- Religion and culture – All children, regardless of culture or religion, have the right to be protected from bodily harm. A child’s right to bodily integrity outweighs parental preference, cultural norms, or religious rituals. (Prince v. Massachusetts, U.S. Supreme Court)
- We raise awareness by presenting at conferences, conducting research, publishing articles, and participating in media interviews.
- We collaborate with other organizations around the world working to protect all children – male, female and intersex – from non-therapeutic, non-consensual genital cutting.
- We produced the film “The Prepuce,” which fully explains the anatomy and function of the foreskin.
- We support parents of children affected by premature forcible foreskin retraction (PFFR) by providing evidence-based documents they can send with a formal complaint to licensing authorities.
- We have provided circumcision information to legislators, resulting in removal of Medicaid funding for circumcision in a number of states.
- We encourage medical students and residents to conscientiously object to circumcision, and provide them with tools and legal advice to do so.
- We refer parents to online lists of foreskin-friendly doctors maintained by other advocacy organizations.
- We direct Jewish parents to a list of rabbis who will perform Brit Shalom, a welcoming and naming ceremony, free of genital cutting.
- We refer men troubled by their circumcision to the National Organization of Restoring Men (NORM), for information on how to grow their remaining skin over time to improve comfort and function.
Board of Directors and Advisors
George C. Denniston, MD, MPH, is the founder and President of Doctors Opposing Circumcision. He a graduate of Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health. He is a former Associate Medical Director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and a retired professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Washington. Dr. Denniston founded D.O.C. in 1995 to eradicate the unethical and unnecessary practice of partial penile amputation of children (circumcision), not only because of the harm that it has done to millions of American boys and men, but also because it has damaged the reputation of the medical profession.
Mark Reiss, MD, is the Executive Vice-President of Doctors Opposing Circumcision. In addition to wife, family, and San Francisco, Mark D. Reiss, MD, has made genital autonomy a high priority in his life. Mark is the founder and administrator of Celebrants of Brit Shalom, a web-based site listing rabbis, cantors, and lay leaders who will replace the traditional bris with a non-cutting ceremony. In his spare time, he is a concert pianist.
George Hill is the Vice-President for Medical Science and Bioethics of Doctors Opposing Circumcision, and its prolific scribe. George joined DOC in 1997 and swiftly became a highly productive advocate. He has to his credit more than 50 published articles and letter-briefs questioning circumcision. He has kept up a lively correspondence with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the CDC, and state Medicaid agencies nationwide. He was the author of the original Doctors Opposing Circumcision Genital Integrity Policy Statement, the framework for this new website.
John V. Geisheker, JD, LL.M, a native of New Zealand, is Executive Director and General Counsel of Doctors Opposing Circumcision. He has assisted over 500 families whose child was injured by forcible foreskin retraction and has published several articles on this widespread problem. John is very proud that, in the 1960s, his native land fully abandoned ‘medicalized’ infant circumcision.
Zenas Baer, JD, Attorney at Law, has been in practice since 1980, and is licensed to practice in the federal and state courts of Minnesota and North Dakota. He has litigated many cases involving circumcision, which, since it lacks consent and is non-therapeutic, he considers assault and criminal sexual conduct.
Adrienne Carmack, MD, is a board-certified urologist and mother of three children, none of whom are circumcised. She is the author of Reclaiming My Birth Rights: A Mother’s Wisdom Triumphs Over the Harmful Practices of Her Medical Profession and The Good Mommy’s Guide to Her Little Boy’s Penis.
Gillian Longley, RN, BSN, MSS, has a nursing background in neonatal intensive care and public health. She serves on the Board of Health Professionals of Intact America, is active with Nurses for the Rights of the Child, and is a key coordinator for genital autonomy advocacy in Colorado. She is the mother of two grown intact sons and lives in Boulder, CO.
Mathias Masem, MD, graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School and is Assistant Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco. He has been active in the successful efforts to remove non-therapeutic circumcision from Colorado Medicaid.
Amanda Morse, MPH, is a public health researcher focused on reproductive health and practicing community-based participatory research. She is an advocate for the health and fundamental autonomy of women and children and has worked both in the US and in South Asia on a variety of health improvement projects.
James L. Snyder, MD, is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, a Diplomate of the American Board of Urology, and past President of the Virginia Urological Society. He participated in gathering data for the study by Sorrells et al. entitled, “Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis.” Dr. Snyder is a member of the Board of Directors of Doctors Opposing Circumcision and supports various related organizations.
Michelle Storms, MD, is a board-certified family medicine physician. She previous held the position of family medicine residency assistant director and assistant professor, and currently continues as a family medicine residency preceptor. During her own residency, she was trained to perform circumcisions, but recognizing the harm and pain, she soon stopped performing them. Dr. Storms has actively spoken out against infant male circumcision ever since, and has published and lectured on the topic.
Gabriel Symonds, MB, BS, is a British-born general practitioner, residing in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Symonds says, “I became aware of the barbarity of circumcision from hearing agonized screams when it was done in a clinic where I used to work. Since then I have campaigned for the abolition of non-therapeutic genital cutting of infants and children.”
John W. Travis, MD, MPH, specialized in preventive medicine at Johns Hopkins, founded the first wellness center in 1975, and co-authored the best-selling Wellness Workbook. In 1991, he shifted his career to infant wellness, co-founding the Alliance for Transforming the Lives of Children, and at that time he recognized the crucial importance of ending infant circumcision.
Michaelle Wetteland, RN, MBA, became an advocate for children when she assisted at her first circumcision in 1973. At that moment, Michaelle vowed never to submit her own child to the procedure. She has helped many parents understand the implications of the procedure, and has been an active Board member of Doctors Opposing Circumcision since 1999.