Elisabeth Halligan: “Stood Up For Human Rights”

Global News Centre Special

I am a Registered Nurse, Certified Pediatric Nurse and International Board Certified Lactation Counselor. In the course of my job duties, I came across a mom upset because she didn’t have several hundred dollars to pay for her infant son’s circumcision.

I let her know that it would be okay, that she didn’t have to have her son circumcised. I didn’t go into graphic details. I didn’t use inflammatory language. I merely let her know that she didn’t HAVE to do it. I gave her information about the proper care of an intact baby boy. That’s it.

Because of this, I have been given a five-shift unpaid leave of absence from work. Because I was put on call for last night’s shift, that means an entire paycheck lost… because I told the truth. Circumcision is not mandatory.


There is so much more I could have said. It didn’t seem the time or the place. So, let me say it here.

Circumcision is not mandatory. You do not have to have your child strapped to a board and have a part of his penis amputated.

Circumcision is not beneficial. There are no proven medical benefits to circumcision. None.

Circumcision is not safe. Approximately 117 babies die annually from the procedure. Many more are injured or hospitalized. Risks include everything from skin bridges and adhesions to degloving of the penile shaft, amputation of the penile glans, amputation of the entire penis, sepsis and hemorrhage. It takes very little blood loss for a child to be put into a life-threatening situation.

Circumcision is not humane. Most Western societies do not practice circumcision any more. Those societies have found that fewer than one in 16,667 adult men end up having to have a circumcision later in life for medical reasons. (It is far safer and more humane to circumcise an adult male who can receive adequate pain medication, and for whom the final size of the adult organ is known.)

Infant circumcision is practiced by taking a newborn male from his mother’s arms and strapping him to a cold, plastic board. The physician stimulates an erection. The foreskin is adhered to the glans of the penis (much like your fingernail is adhered to the fingernail bed.) A piece of metal is inserted between the glans and the foreskin to break this adhesion. There are approximately 20,000 nerve endings in the foreskin so this is a very painful procedure.

Neonates not only feel pain as strongly as adults but, because their nerve endings are not myelinated, they feel it more intensely. They also have no frame of reference to understand why this is being done or that the pain will end. As far as they know, this pain is what they will feel the rest of their lives. MRI studies have shown that this trauma permanently changes the way the brain processes pain.

After separating the foreskin from the glans, the foreskin is slit open with a scalpel and a crush injury is deliberately applied to the foreskin. This crush injury destroys the 20,000 nerve endings as well as the double layer of skin, muscle and the many capillaries and other blood vessels in the foreskin, which is highly vascularized.

In a plastibel circumcision, the instrument causing the crush injury is left in place until the tissue (skin, muscle, nerve endings and blood vessels) necroses and falls off. If the device becomes displaced it can also cause strangulation and the destruction of the penile glans and/or shaft.

In any other type of circumcision, the tissue (skin, muscle, nerve endings and blood vessels) is amputated via scalpel.

All of this is done with either no pain medication or with inadequate pain medication. Sucrose is used on a pacifier to “calm” the infant, but it does not actually relieve pain. Lidocaine may be injected, but it doesn’t reach all areas. EMLA cream is sometimes used, but it is actually contraindicated for this purpose.

I told the truth. For this I have had my livelihood and my children’s well being jeopardized. Hospitals are unwilling that parents be told the truth. We are only allowed to refer them to their pediatrician who will propagate the untruths published by the AAP.

I am not sure what my next step will be… but at the very least, I need to cover this paycheck’s worth of bills. I appreciate prayers, words of kindness and any assistance that can be afforded during these difficult financial times. 

Support Elisabeth and her family here: GoFundMe


Elisabeth Halligan with husband Steven and son


Encore Music Academy and Recording Studios

Music Videos by Ace feat. Patrick Dreier:

Commissioned by award winning journalist Tim King

Encore Music Academy and Recording Studios

Bay Area Intactivists Blast off Leave those Babies Alone  at the SF Pride Parade

Film by A.E.M.G. Stop Infant Circumcision  Produced by Ace feat. Marilyn Milos  (Wins Nursing Award) , Jonathan Conte, Dr. Arif Bhimji, and Christopher Hitchens 

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