The Circumcision Video

Produced by David Garrigus

The Circumcision Video. Produced by David Garrigus Video & Film Productions. 19 minutes. 1999. $49.95. Review by J. Steven Svoboda.

This short videotape presents three circumcisions being performed by the three most common methods in use today—Plastibell, Gomco clamp, and Mogen clamp. The videotape is produced very professionally and would be suitable for use in virtually any imaginable setting. Producer David Garrigus told me that he sympathizes with intactivism, and his “The Circumcision Video” can in fact be interpreted as a very cleverly prepared anti-circumcision video. The video accurately presents itself as offering a first-hand look (actually, three first-hand looks) at the procedure to enable parents to make an informed decision, while it shies away from explicitly advocating a position regarding newborn circumcision. But in offering “an unbiased look at the procedure itself,” we are able to clearly see what a horrible experience this is for the baby.

In all three procedures, pain relief was utilized, yet in two of the three cases the baby was still highly distressed during the circumcision. The physicians explain their thoughts about circumcision as they perform the procedures. The doctors thereby deftly if unintentionally undercut their own actions and positions by repeatedly claiming—despite the obvious evidence to the contrary–that the baby is crying because it was cold or because it was strapped down. In one case the doctor goes on to immediately and completely contract his own statements, by then mentioning that the babies do experience pain despite the use of a dorsal penile nerve block. We are able to observe the babies’ reaction to their pain too, and it is not a sight for the faint-hearted. Also, blood is clearly visible on the Gomco clamp after that procedure.

Is this an anti-circumcision video? Yes and no. It is very good news for the movement when objective professional medical societies and objective video directors are producing materials which should convince any thoughtful, feeling parent to steer well away from circumcision. Despite a perhaps slightly prohibitive price, this video is worth purchasing and keeping on hand, ready for showing when the time arrives to any friends or family who are expecting a child.