Message From the Executive Director

ARC Newsletter Volume: 
11
ARC Newsletter Issue: 
3
Steven Svoboda

January 2, 2017

So here we are near the end of another year.  Right now, among many other things, we somewhat astonishingly find ourselves preparing for the arrival in 2017 of the twentieth anniversary of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child.  When I started ARC, I vowed that I would stay in this work for no longer than the approximately seven-year active life of our predecessor organization, Tim Hammond’s National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males (NOHARMM).  

Nearly two decades in, I continue to be amazed and awestruck and refreshed by this work and by my amazing colleagues.  ARC has grown from what frankly was in the early years a one-man organization to now be a non-profit that truly is the sum of several key players’ contributions, including our Legal Advisor Peter Adler, our new Webmaster/Newsletter Editor Aubrey Terron Taylor, our board, and several other important behind-the-scenes contributors, not to mention our truly invaluable financial supporters.

In July 2016, the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (JLME) finally published the paper by ARC Executive Director Steven Svoboda, ARC Legal Advisor Peter Adler, and Bob Van Howe entitled, “Circumcision is Unethical and Unlawful."  The paper is part of a JLME special issue stemming from our unofficial debate victory over the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at the Twentieth Annual Thomas A. Pitts Lectureship in Medical Ethics, held at the Medical University of South Carolina in October 2013.  This is the longest and most comprehensive general article I have ever published and we are very happy to finally see it in print. 

I accepted an invitation from the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics to write a paper about male circumcision as iatrogenic (doctor-caused) harm.

I am also currently hard at work writing a paper with Bob Van Howe about the ethics of male circumcision for the journal Medicolegal and Bioethics.  We have a draft article that I am very happy with that addresses the topic from a fresh perspective, getting back to basics and addressing some fundamental yet often neglected issues. Peter and I are also finalizing a paper on burden of proof.

Our Legal Advisor, Peter Adler, published his article critiquing the December 2014 draft circumcision regulations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "The Draft CDC Circumcision Recommendations: Medical, Ethical, Legal, and Procedural Concerns," in the Spring 2016 issue of the International Journal of Children's Rights (IJCR).

We are delighted that Aubrey Terron, who helped us win the debate with the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP's) Michael Brady in Charleston in 2013, is our new webmaster and newsletter editor. She will be producing a newsletter for us, to be published in the coming weeks.

Genital autonomy continues to make strides as it enters more vibrantly into mainstream dialogue.  An important new legal decision was been handed down in the UK upholding children's rights. While the judgment is not perfect, the judge's primary reasoning protects the child's best interests and his right to personal autonomy.

A French court awarded 32,000 euros (approximately US $35,500) to a man for his circumcision as an adult. The court acknowledged sexual harm and ethical harm to the man by the surgeon who circumcised him due in part to a lack of information provided on alternatives to circumcision.  Both the UK and French developments are presented in this issue.

As also outlined in this newsletter, the Danish Medical Association is calling for protection of all children’s genital autonomy.  Young scholars continue to join forces with us and new grassroots organizations offering creative and in some cases radical approaches have entered the mix in recent years. Continuing the work started in 2001 by our delegation to the United Nations that for the first time enrolled into the official UN record the concept of male circumcision as a human rights, exciting work is going on with the UN and we are part of it, along with our European colleagues and one American colleague. I wish I could say more but there should be some exciting updates over the next two years.

We hope you enjoy this newsletter, which includes: 1) a photo report by Tim Hammond about the symposium held at the University of Keele in the UK; 2) and 3) profiles of longtime activists Chelo Jacob and Tim Hammond; 4) memories of activist Jonathon Conte; 5) an article by Lisa Braver Moss about some recent heartening developments relating to Judaism and genital autonomy; 6) a story by Tim Hammond about his important survey regarding the harm of circumcision; 7) a photoreport on ARC’s participation in the Palm Springs (California) Pride Festival; 8) reviews; 9) news reports; and more.

We were saddened by activist Jonothon Conte’s demise.  

ARC released the full audio from the Charleston debate as well as audio clips showing that the AAP doesn't know the functions of the foreskin and believes children do not have human rights.  The video from the first day is being edited for release in early 2017.  

Last month, I also participated in two question and answer sessions following showings November 1, 2016 in Berkeley and November 6, 2016 in San Rafael, of Cassie Jaye's excellent new film about the men's movement including activism for genital integrity, "The Red Pill."  (www.imdb.com/title/tt3686998/

In April, I did an hour-long review of ARC's activities and of the movement for the Maria Sanchez show, one of the longest shows we have ever done, and one of my better shows, I have to say. 

ARC staffed an information booth at the 30th Annual Palm Springs (California) Pride Festival, which took place on November 6, 2016.  A short report appears in this issue.

We recently also celebrated the five-year anniversary of our release of our "Know Your Rights" brochure.  ARC continues to make the brochure available on our website to provide information for potential litigants on how to seek legal compensation for the wrong of circumcision.

For the past sixteen years, we have been put out the newsletter so as to keep intactivists and their supporters updated on pertinent events throughout the movement to protect children from genital cutting and frankly, so as to keep spirits high through this often challenging work.   Our newsletter continues to be carried by all three of the top content providers that electronically provide journals to libraries throughout the world!  These three are ProQuest, EBSCO and Cengage (formerly Gale).

ARC is proud to announce that we have passed the three-year anniversary of our release of a list we have been painstakingly compiling since our founding in 1997 of all known significant legal awards and settlements in circumcision-related lawsuits.  Prior to the release of this list, we believe that a substantial majority of the cases included in this list were unknown to the intactivist community.  

We are well into ARC's 19th year, as well as my 21st year of intactivism. 

Personally, it is the children who inspire me to continue dedicating our intellect, and spirit to this work.  We deeply appreciate the support each of you offers us, be it financial, emotional, logistical, as colleagues, or a combination of these roles. We could not do it without you!  

I retrospectively wish all the happiest of merriest of Christmases and wish everyone the happiest of Hanukkahs, and I hope everyone has a most joyous New Year.

Thanks ever so much to everyone for your generous and truly irreplaceable support over the years, whether it be financial, emotional, logistical, as colleagues, or a combination of these roles.  Each of you literally makes it possible for us to do this work. 

Fully tax-deductible donations that are entirely applied to protecting children can be sent to J. Steven Svoboda, ARC, 2961 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707, or made through paypal at our website (www.arclaw.org/arc_donate) or using the paypal address sarah@arclaw.org for payments from a credit card and arc@arclaw.org for payments from a bank account. Also please note that if you buy anything from amazon and bookmark your starting page as http://www.amazon.com/?&tag=arc-20&camp=14721&creative=385805&linkCode=hom&adid=11CYB7JHVS05VPZ0AJCS& (this URL can also be accessed from our donations page at www.arclaw.org by clicking on the box labeled "Amazon.com" (not "Amazon Smile"), ARC will receive a hefty 4-6% of all your purchases, which can add up very quickly to substantial support for our work to protect children.  Finally, there is a new way to support ARC through two affinity credit cards.  Further information is available at www.charitycharge.com/ein/?npoKeyword=94-3391556) and http://www.halocardproject.com/attorneys-for-the-rights-of-the-child.html).

Steven Svoboda

Attorneys for the Rights of the Child