Nursing, Circumcision, and War!

In this powerful interview, nurse Jessica Rigdon speaks about her experience viewing a circumcision for the first time in nursing school, and what it led to in her marriage and her life. This gut-wrenching experience was, for many nurses, the beginning of a path of advocacy for the body autonomy rights of children. The video highlights the reality of circumcision’s inhumanity, the emotional damage done to men circumcised as infants, and how education and listening to mothers’ protective instincts can shift the playing field for the next generation of boys.

“It’s really important for us mothers and medical professionals to just stand up and do what’s right.” ~Jessica, RN

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Non-therapeutic circumcision of healthy boys unethical and violation of children’s rights

On March 25, 2017 the Danish Nurses Organisation declared non-therapeutic circumcision of healthy boys unethical and a direct violation of children’s rights according to the UN convention.
The nurses organisation join a long list of Danish Health- and Children’s Rights organisations, which have all called for an end to the tradition of genital cutting of healthy male minors (female genital cutting has been banned for years).

A number of political parties have also called for the introduction of an 18 year age limit. An initiative which is supported by 87% of the population of Denmark.

~Intact Denmark – Forening mod omskæring af børn, Lena Nyhus, Director.

Dansk Sygeplejeråd: Omskæring af mindreårige i strid med menneskerettighederne


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A Nurse With a Conscience

A Chicago nurse describes the horror and insanity of hospital circumcisions. She told me that babies cry for days afterwards. She said, “Complications occur frequently…. Very few babies lie there quietly sucking on their pacifier. Most of them are screaming. I don’t want to watch it. I was asked to learn to do the procedure, and I said, ‘No, there’s no way I would do this.’ She told me off-camera that it was often the fathers demanding the surgery, and she witnessed them arguing with the new mothers about it. The fathers usually won the argument.

Patricia’s intact grandson is two years old, “never a problem,” she said. It was her information that persuaded his parents to keep him intact. She was horrified by the idea of forced retraction, and well aware of proper care of an intact baby. Please warn your own friends to educate themselves. They can’t rely on the doctors or the hospital, or even the nurses, for this vital information. Your Whole Baby has excellent basic care instructions at…

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A Feminist Nursing Critique of Circumcision

Nurse Kira Antinuk gives a feminist critique and her perspective on circumcision as well as her 13-year long involvement in the movement to promote equal genital autonomy for all children.


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11 JUNE 2015

For immediate release

Nurses for the Rights of the Child supports the genital autonomy rights of Chase Hironimus, a healthy 4.5 year old boy from Florida, USA. Chase’s human rights are in jeopardy following a bitter family court dispute surrounding a parenting agreement which was drawn up after Chase was born. This parenting agreement included the option for a medically unnecessary circumcision desired by the father. The circumcision was not performed during Chase’s infancy. Later, his mother Heather researched circumcision and became aware that it was not medically recommended and that it had risks generally and specifically with regard to her son, who had reacted adversely to anesthetic in the past and who develops keloids. Heather was imprisoned until she agreed to sign a circumcision consent form, which she did while bound in handcuffs and crying. Nurses for the Rights of the Child condemns the actions of Judge Jeffrey Gillen on this matter and notes that this forced consent was done under duress, which is unacceptable and contrary to the principles of informed consent.

We call on nurses who may be asked to assist with the proposed circumcision of Chase to demonstrate moral courage by taking conscientious objector status.

The Association of Women’s Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nursing (AWHONN) supports nurses’ rights to conscientious objection and recommends that every institution have a written policy protecting these rights and making reasonable accommodations for nurses with such objections. It also says that taking a conscientious objector position “…should not jeopardize a nurse’s employment, nor should nurses be subjected to harassment due to such a refusal.”

The Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses in Canada states: “Ethical (or moral) courage is exercised when a nurse stands firm on a point of moral principle or a particular decision about something in the face of overwhelming fear or threat to himself or herself. [… T]he nurse should discuss with supervisors, [or] employers […] what types of care she or he finds contrary to his or her own beliefs and values (e.g., caring for individuals having an abortion, male circumcision, blood transfusion, organ transplantation) and request that his or her objections be accommodated, unless it is an emergency situation”.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Performing an action that violates one’s conscience undermines one’s sense of integrity and self-respect and produces guilt, remorse, or shame. Integrity is valuable, and harms associated with the loss of self-respect should be avoided.”

If you are a nurse in moral distress about assisting with Chase’s proposed circumcision or any non-therapeutic circumcision, please contact Nurses for the Rights of the Child . We can assist you with resources and support regarding conscientious objection and refer you to legal support if needed.

You are not alone.


Nurses for the Rights of the Child is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting the rights of infants and children to bodily integrity.  As health professionals, we specifically seek to protect non-consenting infants and children from surgical alteration of their healthy genitals.

Nurses for the Rights of the Child was founded in June of 1995 by a group of nurses who had become R.N. Conscientious Objectors to infant circumcision at St. Vincent Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Read the story of the courageous nurses of St.Vincent Hospital here.

Our work includes:

  • Empowering, supporting, and advising nurses who want to help stop the genital cutting of infants and children, whether as conscientious objectors or as change agents.
  • Advocating for babies and children by educating the public that the forced amputation of a healthy body part of a non-consenting person – whether in the name of medicine, religion, or social custom – is a human rights violation.
  • Providing information to parents and parents-to-be about circumcision and the intact penis.
  • Educating health professionals about circumcision, the intact penis, and the ethics of neonatal circumcision, and promoting curriculum change in the training of health professionals.
  • Taking leadership in cooperating with others working in this country and abroad to promote the rights of children to bodily integrity.
  • Promoting the human rights principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).



The 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children’s Rights
“Whole Bodies, Whole Selves: Activating Social Change”
University of Colorado – Boulder, CO
July 24-26, 2014
To register please go to our website at:
Detailed program information coming soon!
Please also visit our Facebook Event Page:


From international experts, you will learn about:
  • Laws protecting the rights of infants and children
  • The complications and consequences of human genital mutilations
  • The psychological sequela of genital cutting
  • The importance of protecting all children–male, female, and intersex–from non-therapeutic genital cutting
  • Cultural practices and cultural changes
  • Global efforts to promote genital autonomy for all infants and children
 And, you will see these films:
  • Intersexion
  • The Hidden Trauma: Circumcision in America (in production)
  • American Secret: The Circumcision Agenda (in production)
 Upon completion of this program, you will understand:
  • How laws protecting children’s rights are applied to genital cutting
  • How to provide expectant and new parents with accurate information
  • Ways in which to offer help to survivors of genital cutting
  • Global activities with regard to protecting genital autonomy rights of infants and children
  • The importance of raising awareness to include the rights of infants and children to their own bodies
 Continuing Education Credit
  • Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number CEP 10870 for 22 contact hours.
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Canadian student nurse Kira Antinuk wins ethics award

Kira Antinuk discusses events that prompted her to research circumcision and then pursue a nursing career. Antinuk’s essay, “Forced genital cutting in North America: Feminist theory and nursing considerations” was published in the September issue (20: 723-728) of Nursing Ethics. She was the winner of the Paul Wainwright Nursing Ethics Student Essay Prize 2013!

Kira is Nursing Director for the Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership:

and CHHRP’s YouTube channel:

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Genital Autonomy being recognized in Europe

In recent weeks, several major events acknowledging a child’s right to genital autonomy occurred in Europe. Nurses for the Rights of the Child applauds these efforts to protect the fundamental human rights of children and extend our gratitude to the growing number of individuals around the world who are working to end forced genital cutting.

On September 30, 2013, a prominent group of Nordic ombudsmen, pediatricians, and pediatric surgeons met in Oslo to sign a resolution urging their national governments to protect boys from non-therapeutic circumcision.

“As ombudsmen for children and experts in children’s health we consider circumcision of underage boys without a medical indication to be in conflict with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, article 12, about children’s right to express their views about their own matters, and article 24, pt. 3, which says that children must be protected against traditional rituals that may be harmful to their health. … We consider it central that parental rights in this matter do not have precedence over children’s right to bodily integrity.”

On October 1, 2013, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution by an overwhelming majority which categorized non-therapeutic circumcision as a “violation of the physical integrity of children.” It called on its forty-seven member states to take educational, legislative, and policy measures toward protecting the best interests of the child in regard to male, female, and intersex genital cutting practices.

On October 10, 2013, the Nordic Association for Clinical Sexology endorsed the above two resolutions. Expressing their concern about the human rights aspects associated with the practice of non-therapeutic circumcision of young boys, they conclude,

“unless there are compelling medical reasons to operate before a boy reaches an age and a level of maturity at which he is capable of providing informed consent, the decision to alter the appearance, sensitivity, and functionality of the penis should be left to its owner, thus upholding his fundamental rights to protection and bodily integrity.”

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Genital autonomy and human rights at the Victoria Pride Festival

Nursing students Breanna de Groot, Emily Gage and Kira Antinuk bring the discussion of genital autonomy and human rights to visitors of the Victoria Pride Festival.

Kira Antinuk is one of the founders of The Children’s Health & Human Rights Partnership (CHHRP), Canada’s first dedicated not-for-profit partnership of medical, legal, and ethics professionals working alongside concerned citizens towards ending forced non-therapeutic genital cutting of children in Canada.

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Registered nurse Robbie T, RN (Rob Tsvetkov, RN) speaks out against circumcision

While training to be a registered nurse Robbie T, RN (Rob Tsvetkov, RN) witnessed a baby boy’s healthy penis being cut (circumcised). So disgusted by what he saw he has since worked to educate parents on the functions of the foreskin, and the harm of circumcision.

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