Midwives Made a Movie About Circumcision

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“If your baby is male, are you planning a circumcision?”

How often do you ask some version of that question in your prenatal visits? How do you feel about asking the question? Is it a box to check? Is it an ethical dilemma? When you ask the question, do clients know the answer? If they have questions, is there enough time for counseling? If they want more information, to where do you refer them? Infant male circumcision is a controversial issue in the United States, fueled by cultural traditions and emotional debate. For many parents, circumcision seems like the “norm” and they make the decision to circumcise their sons rather automatically. For some, circumcision is a new concept they are learning about for the first time. For parents seeking more information, existing media about this topic is often so polarized that they can find plenty of opinions but may have trouble finding accessible evidence-based tools. Even within nurse-midwifery, there is debate about this practice, which is the most common surgical procedure performed on children with male reproductive anatomy in the United States.

As nurse-midwives in clinical practice in Minnesota, we were dissatisfied by the lack of resources for families regarding circumcision. A patient brochure could not possibly cover all the medical, personal, cultural, and ethical layers of this topic. A book or website can lay out the facts but lacks the power of the human voice. So, we teamed up with midwives, physicians, academics, parents, and others to make a movie centered on this decision. It took us over four years of free time, and the result is The Circumcision Movie, a 35-minute documentary we call “a teaching tool for expecting parents.” Blending accurate health information with historical and clinical expertise, personal experiences, statistics, and bioethics, this documentary questions routine male circumcision and promotes the tools parents need to make an informed decision.

Please join us as we discuss this important topic at the upcoming ACNM 66th Annual Meeting, held virtually May 23 – 25, 2021. Registering for the event will give you the opportunity not only to watch The Circumcision Movie but also to ask questions of the producers and engage with midwives across the country to learn more about the culture surrounding circumcision in different regions.

Authors:

Emily Rumsey (right) is a nurse-midwife with Minnesota Community Care in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Nurse-Midwifery program and the University of Minnesota’s School of Nursing. Prior to a career in health care, Emily obtained a degree in English and Media from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and produced health videos in both director and editor roles. Her video clients have ranged from small clinics to large hospitals and health systems. Her documentary about doulas is nationally distributed and endorsed as an educational tool by multiple birth experts. Emily directed The Circumcision Movie, co-produced with a fellow midwife and fellow “Emily,” after a long and wide search for high-quality patient education, which did not exist.

Emily Fitzgerald (left) is a nurse-midwife with Hennepin Healthcare. She earned her master’s degree in Nurse-Midwifery from the University of Illinois at Chicago, then joined the midwifery community of the Twin Cities, where because of the population served, the topic of female genital cutting is commonplace. For Emily, this brought to light the timeliness of a frank discussion regarding routine male circumcision. Emily started dabbling in video-making in graduate school as a creative way to do her homework, and won the ACNM video contest award in 2014. She is the executive producer of The Circumcision Movie.