Wednesday, March 27, 2013

This is NOT equality!

I was so impressed and in many cases pleasantly surprised to see such an overwhelming show of support for marriage equality on Facebook the past couple days.  A HUGE percentage of the profile picture on my news-feed were changed to this equal sign symbolizing equality for all in marriage.  Childhood friends, coworkers, acquaintances from high school and college and even (and this made me SO happy) many of my most religious friends.  At least in my Facebook world, this seems to be a topic that transcends political party, religious affiliation, gender, sexual orientation and age!  That's a GREAT sign!

The Supreme Court is in the process of deciding whether to overturn or uphold California's ban on gay marriage.  That's what all this gay marriage/marriage equality/protect marriage talk is about in case you didn't know.

"Prop 8," as it was called, passed when voted on by the voters of California in the November 2008 elections.  Prop 8 was added as an amendment to the California Constitution and reads as follows under California Constitution: Declaration of Rights, Article 1:

"SEC. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or
recognized in California."

Honestly, I was embarrassed and ashamed not to mention shocked my home state failed to make marriage between consenting adults of any orientation legal.  I get that the result was "the voice of the people" and part of democracy is allowing the people to vote on topics, but you know what....people can be assholes and people can be idiots.  I'm willing to bet there would have been (and likely were) equally as discriminatory majority opinions 60 years ago about desegregation.  Just because something is believed by the majority doesn't make it right.


Many people seem to be under the impression gay couples already have the same rights straight couples do, but this simply isn't the case particularly when it comes to federal law.  For example, thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 that states:

"No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship."

former congressman Gerry E. Studds' (D-Mass) spouse was not allowed to collect his annual pension after Gerry's death.  Here is were it gets extra insulting....according to Peter Graves of the office that administers the congressional pension program...

"Under federal law, pensions can only be denied to lawmakers' same-sex partners and to people convicted espionage or treason."
Are you freaking kidding me?!?!?!?  You can read more about this case here.  


This military couple were told to leave a military retreat to help military husbands and wives from deal with the stress of deployments and relocations.  The Defense of Marriage Act only allows the retreat to be utilized by heterosexual married couples.

This military spouse was denied access into the base's club for officers' spouses because she doesn't have a military ID...something she's not eligible to receive because her 15 year relationship and legal Washington D.C. marriage is not recognized by federal law.

Only last month, the Department of Defense expanded SOME benefits to same-sex partners of military members as can be read in this memo.  

Unless the Defense of Marriage Act is repealed, the Pentagon cannot recognize same-sex marriages regardless of if they are legal in some states.   This is the case for ALL government employees with same-sex partners.  The same-sex partners of postal workers, military, elected officials, etc. are not recognized as spouses and therefore not eligible for health insurance, military IDs for base access, access to counseling programs or pension plans regardless of if their marriage is legal in their state.


Even is all 50 states voted independently to legalize gay marriage, those marriages, those spouses and those families would not be recognized in the same manner their heterosexual counterparts are by the federal government.  Even though the states are voting individually and ratifying their individual state constitutions, THIS IS A FEDERAL ISSUE!  

United States citizens are being treated differently in the eyes of the government based on their sexual orientation.  Substitute "gay" with "black" or "down syndrome" or "Asian."  This type of discrimination is not acceptable based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity or age and it isn't acceptable based on who someone falls in love with either!

Monday, March 18, 2013

My (first) Letter to the ACLU

The first step toward my activism as it pertains to routine infant circumcision came around the time San Francisco was trying to get a ban on non medically necessary circumcision for those under 18 years old   The circumcision ban was not allowed on the November ballot, but it certainly created a LOT of much needed dialogue about forced circumcision of minors.  You can read the exact wording of the proposed ban here.  

Up until this point, I had researched the crap out of the anatomy and physiology of the natural penis, proper care, the details of what exactly circumcision entails, the medical indications for circumcision and every possible scientific argument for and against.  It didn't take me long to know emphatically and confidently I would NEVER allow any child of mine to be put through the torturous and completely unnecessary surgery.  I had even started commenting here and there on Facebook threads encouraging others to keep their children intact.  I did have one hang up though...

As I mentioned on my very first post, I worked for a Jewish pediatrician and mohel in college.  I am still extremely close with the family and the mother and I actually own a business together.  I even helped plan their daughter's Bat Mitzvah and my parents came into town to attend the celebration just a couple weeks ago.  Despite not being particularly religious, I do most closely identify as your run of the mill "Christian" and I'm a huge supporter of religious freedom.  I even use a religious vaccine exemption. (future post topic I'm sure.)

I forget where I first read, or who I first heard say the statement that was my "AH-HA!" moment when it came to religious circumcision, but it was such a simple, rational and obvious statement:

"Religious freedom ends where another individual's body begins."
How had I not come to that conclusion myself?  That simple statement was all I needed to be 100% anti routine infant circumcision with no buts about it.

The American Civil Liberty Union took a stance AGAINST the San Francisco circumcision ban for several reasons you can read on their website including:

"The initiative threatens religious freedom.  The initiative not only tramples the liberty of Jewish and Muslim families to honor a religious duty, it embodies a disturbing hostility toward minority faiths."

It was around that time I left a similar version of the letter below on the American Civil Liberty Union's Facebook page.  It got plenty of (mostly) positive attention from everyone except the ACLU itself.  I posted the same message to their page in August of 2012 when the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their official circumcision policy statement to come just shy of recommending routine infant circumcision and leaving it up to the parents.  My post was mostly ignored again.

I will not be ignored any longer.  Tonight is the eve of the day I send this letter (minus the links I put for my readers) via certified mail to the ACLU offices.  As routine infant circumcision becomes an increasingly heated debate topic on Facebook "mommy pages," parenting blogs and the rate of circumcision continues to plummet in the United States, I predict this will not be my last letter to the ACLU.  Enjoy.....

I'm curious why, when your own website's "About Us" section states you work to protect:

"Your First Amendment rights- freedom of speech, association      and assembly; freedom of the press and FREEDOM OF RELIGION..." (emphasis mine) and
 "Your right to EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW- protection against unlawful discrimination" (emphasis mine)

you choose to side in FAVOR of allowing forced genital cutting of infant boys to continue in the United States.

Girls have been protected from female genital mutilation in the United States regardless of their parents' religious beliefs since Title 18, Part 1, Chapter 7, Section 116 went into effect on March 30, 1997.  Why don't you fight to give boys equal protection under the law as is required by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution?  As mentioned above, your own website lists "equal protection under the law" as one of the rights you work to defend and preserve.

Allowing parents to "brand" their infant with a symbol of the religion THEY CHOSE violates the CHILD's (and the adult they will become) right to religious freedom.

"If the rights of society's most vulnerable members are denied, everybody's rights are imperiled."

The above quote is also directly off your webpage.  Surely America's infant boys qualify as vulnerable members of society.  Surely they are worth protecting just as America's infant girls are.

There is NOT ONE medical organization in the WORLD that recommends routine infant circumcision.  In fact, the AAP's updated circumcision policy statement has been condemned by the worldwide medical community:

"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."

By human rights attorneys in the Journal of Medical Ethics:

"The AAP's circumcision recommendations contradict it's own bioethics policy statement, which requires pediatric care to be based only on the needs of the patient.  Non-therapeutic circumcision is incompatible with widely accepted ground rules for surgical intervention in minors."

And even the AAP itself has acknowledged a cultural bias in it's revised policy statement in its official publication:

"To these authors, only 1 of the arguments put forward by the American Academy of Pediatrics has some theoretical relevance in relation to infant male circumcision; namely, the possible protection against urinary tract infections in infant boys, which can easily be treated with antibiotics without tissue loss. The other claimed health benefits, including protection against HIV/AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts, and penile cancer, are questionable, weak, and likely to have little public health relevance in a Western context, and they do not represent compelling reasons for surgery before boys are old enough to decide for themselves."

The practice of routine infant circumcision cannot be swept under the rug as a medical procedure to be discussed with a doctor as the very practice of non-therapeutic circumcision of a minor is in violation of the informed consent principal, the limitations of proxy consent laws, the ethics of cosmetic surgery on a minor and Article 3 of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I encourage you to take another look at the stance you have taken on this obvious violation of human rights.  I'm confident you'll realize your mistake and take a more logical and ethical approach.



There you have it!  My first "official" activist letter.  I certainly hope it gets noticed and even gets some minds thinking.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Fluoricide: Death by Fluoride Part 1

Every morning growing up, my mom would make me a scrumptious breakfast while I was getting ready for school.  I never did like any of the typical sugar filled kids' cereals or cereal in general actually.  I was lucky to have scrambled egg sandwich fingers, toast with marmalade or a buttered English muffin served with fresh fruit and orange juice just about every morning.  There was also always a little colored tablet on the side of my plate or on my place-mat for me too.  Mine looked something like this...

These are fluoride tablets and like many people my age, I had one a day in the same way you take a daily vitamin.  I remember from a very young age *knowing* fluoride keeps teeth healthy and protects from cavities.  After all, toothpaste has fluoride in it and the dentist would give me a fluoride rinse after my biannual cleaning and most public water is fluoridated.  In addition to having your mom giving you fluoride tablets to help your teeth, it's pretty easy to see how fluoride=healthy teeth could become an understood fact.

But where does this "fact" come from?  Let's start with learning some more about fluoride...

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that is present, to some degree, in all otherwise uncontaminated fresh water.  Only some deep freshwater wells have "high" levels of naturally occurring fluoride.  Now you may be saying, "fluoride is natural so it must be safe." News flash: arsenic is also naturally occurring. So are mercury, lead and all the venoms/toxins from countless deadly frogs, snakes, spiders and fish species around the world.  Bottom line is natural does not automatically mean harmless or healthy.

Back to those fresh water wells with "high" levels of fluoride.  UNICEF has programs helping developing nations DECONTAMINATE those wells so the water is safe for people to drink.  Here is what UNICEF says on their webpage about the negative affects of fluoride exposure:
"The effects of fluoride are usually only visible after prolonged exposure to contaminated water.  Its effects are debilitating, ultimately leaving people severely crippled. Ultimately fluorosis can lead to death."
Fluoride is NOT an essential nutrient and a "deficiency" (not possible since it's not required) of fluoride will not result in any disease or an increase in tooth decay (more on cavities/dental health later).

There are different types of fluoride and some are more toxic than others.

Calcium Fluoride- considered the least toxic to humans and is the fluoride commonly found in natural untreated water like the deep wells mentioned above.  Did you comprehend that? Calcium Fluoride is considered the LEAST toxic form of fluoride yet it's dangerous enough for UNICEF to be spending time, money and resources to remove it from the water in developing nations.

Sodium Fluoride- used in most toothpastes, mouth rinses and other dental products including fluoride tablets like I used to take daily growing up.  It is also used in pesticides and as a preservative for everything from wood to adhesives.  Oh, and in the manufacturing of chemical and biological weapons too.  Sounds like pretty safe stuff, huh? *eyerole*

You can search for products containing sodium fluoride on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Household Products Database. To save you some time, here are a few American favorites with sodium fluoride in the ingredients:

Fluorosilicic Acid- this is the type of fluoride most commonly used in water fluoridation and goes by several different names including hexafluorosilicic, hexafluosilicic, hydrofluosilicic and silicofluoric acid.  According the the Centers for Disease Control, 95% of the fluoride used in water fluoridation is acquired from the phosphate fertilizer manufacturing process.  The fluoride collected from this process is not pharmaceutical-grade fluoride and does not go through any purification process which results in high levels of arsenic contamination. 

By the way, prior to the invention of the pollution control devices, the fluoride gas that is now collected for the water fluoridation process escaped the phosphate plant chimneys and resulted in crippled livestock, destroyed crops and scorched vegetation.  You can read more about how the pollution affected the neighborhoods around phosphate plants here.

That's just 3 types of fluoride used for various reasons, but in relation to the topics addressed above, dental care and water fluoridation, they are the most pertinent.  Did you notice  the least toxic type of fluoride is NOT the one being added to the majority of the public's water?  That even the least toxic, Calcium Fluoride, is still hazardous enough to have removed from the drinking water in developing countries?  If that's the LEAST toxic form, then why the hell is ANY form of fluoride being ADDED to the drinking water supply in most of the United States?!?!?!

I starting this post thinking I'd get all my thoughts into one post, but that won't be the case.  Instead I'm going to break this fluoricide post into a multi part series.  I get so worked up and PISSED OFF researching and writing about these hot topics I need to take a breather here and there.  Plus, I'm sure a 20 page paper is not an ideal format for a blog to follow :-) I'm not sure how many parts there will be when I've emptied my anger onto the page, but I assure you there is A LOT more to write about on the fluoridated water scam.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Another Circumcision Death

After several months of contemplating starting a blog, I have finally caved (or should I say stepped up to the plate?)  I wish I could say it was the requests from friends to share my experiences and passion with the internet world, but unfortunately it was not.  It was a much more depressing, infuriating and 100% avoidable death of an 11 day old sweet baby boy.

A baby boy I will call only by "Baby Boy B" died yesterday evening after complications from his routine infant circumcision (RIC) at UC Davis Medical Center.  In the words of his grandfather from Thursday morning:

"He wouldn't stop bleeding after his circumcision yesterday and had multiple seizures last night.....They gave him clotting meds, plasma and platelets, but they do not know why he's bleeding or seizing!"

Followed on Friday by:

"The prognosis is not good.  We're hoping for a MIRACLE, but the Doctors are not optimistic for his survival."

and ultimately confirmation of Baby Boy B's death later than evening.

In college I worked for a pediatrician whose wife is also a doctor and nurse practitioner.  They were (well, they still are) Jewish and the doctor is also still a mohel...a Jewish man who performs ritual circumcisions on the 8th day of life.  Shortly after I began working there, one of their patients died the day after his circumcision.  When the autopsy came back, an "undiagnosed blood clotting disorder" was cited as the cause of death. No one was held accountable for this baby's death.  It was just considered an unfortunate outcome to an otherwise "safe" routine procedure.

I'm certain when/if the family of Baby Boy B has an autopsy done they will get a similar answer as the family at the practice I worked at.  Will circumcision even be mentioned as the cause? A contributing factor even? Or will the circumcision connection be swept under the rug in favor of hemorrhage or hemophilia or organ failure or even lumped together into the more general "neonatal death" rate for those who pass within the first 28 days of life?

Could unrecorded deaths from circumcision be contributing to our atrocious neonatal death rates compared to other countries?  This list from our very own CIA shows just how much we suck compared to other developed nations:  Cuba and South Korea rank better than the United States for Christ's sake! Not to mention the few countries I've never even heard of.  Come on, you can't tell me you had honestly heard of Wallis and Futuna before!

2012 est.
173United States
2012 est.
174Faroe Islands
2012 est.
2012 est.
176Northern Mariana Islands
2012 est.
177New Caledonia
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
180French Polynesia
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
183New Zealand
2012 est.
184San Marino
2012 est.
185Wallis and Futuna
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
188United Kingdom
2012 est.
2012 est.
190European Union
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
194Isle of Man
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
198Korea, South
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
206Czech Republic
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
218Hong Kong
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.
2012 est.

The death of the little boy when I worked for the pediatrician was responsible for putting circumcision on my radar, but it wasn't for a few more years and several sexual partners later that my interest (I would admit even obsession) in learning everything I can about the anatomy and physiology of the normal penis was undoubtedly captured.

Unfortunately, it has taken the death of another precious newborn for me to not put off starting a blog.  I can not and will not be quiet on the topic of routine infant circumcision any longer.  It's time I use my personal experiences and subsequent knowledge to help others make confident informed decisions before another  child needlessly loses their life from this vile tradition.