Ethics and the treatment of intersex infants.

Tara - posted on 01/27/2011 ( 29 moms have responded )

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Limiting Parental Authority to Consent: An Alternative Legislative Strategy



Another potential legislative approach to restricting intersex genital surgeries is to statutorily limit parents' authority to consent in the cases involving cosmetic genital surgeries. While parents generally have the right and responsibility to make medical decisions on behalf of their minor children, clearly they do not have the carte blanche to do as they please on their children's bodily integrity.



A possible legislation would restrict parents' authority to consent to cosmetic genital surgeries on their children; such surgery can only be performed if a judge determines it to be in the best interest of the child. This legislation ensures that surgeries will only be performed to maximize the child's quality of life, and not that of the parents.



This proposal loosely follows the same principle that the Constitutional Court of Colombia adopted in 1999: children are not the property of their parents, and as such parents do not have the carte blanche to make irreversible and potentially hazardous choices on behalf of their children. However, it may prove to be difficult to push this argument in the U.S., where there is little support for "children's rights."



http://www.intersexinitiative.org/law/ci...



I agree with the Constitutional Court of Columbia, children are NOT the property of their parents.

Medically, clinically necessary surgery is one thing, cosmetic surgery is another thing altogether.

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Sharon - posted on 01/27/2011

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In jenns defense - the OP sounded biased from the getgo. It didn't sound "full".

Ok I'm trying to get away from the incredible number of malformed babies in one small town and go back forming an answer....

I think the law is stupid.

For the most part parents don't go around lopping off body parts will-hee-nil-hee. They don't randomly decide to have cosmetic surgery performed on their kids.

in the case of abnormal genitalia - this is a society where there are NO neuters in the human population.

We are moving towards a future where male and female roles will be nulled. Although I'm curious how sperm meets egg will be handled.

But that is the future.

I'm pretty sure none of you got your ultrasounds (if you had any) thinking "I don't care if my baby is born androgynous. As long as its healthy." Partially because in our genetic make up - there are no neuters so any born are genetic mutations and where there is one mutation there might be others, life threatening.

So - your child is a hermaphrodite. I haven't seen that option on any forms I've filled out lately. Good luck playing that down.

So your child is a hermaphrodite and the doctors tell you most of the organs are male but.... its a gut wrenching decision. There is soooooo much to decide. There are so many complications. And those are all just the physical things. Then there is the emotional shit.

Stop trying to parent everyone elses kid and pay attention to your own.

Lady Heather - posted on 01/27/2011

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I think intersexed kids should be left to make up the decision themselves. Gender neutral clothes while they are babies, let them choose when they are older. It's tough, but a lot easier than doing a surgery, calling the kid Jane only to find out after years of forced dresses and bows that Jane is actually John and now totally confused.

Joanna - posted on 01/27/2011

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Ive heard stories of parents who had the surgery performed on their child, and treated them as a boy/ girl, but the child grew up identifying with the opposite gender. I think it should be up to the child, whether or not to have the surgery, once they have an identity for themselves.

Tara - posted on 01/27/2011

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There are people who still have both sex organs Sharon,
I knew a person in the city where I lived with my ex. This person did not identify with either gender, this person was 46 years old, had a very small penis, one testicle and a vagina that led to a malformed uterus. Breasts partially developed. There was an article in the paper about this person years ago (I'll try to find it) and this person said there are many like themselves, usually though they look like one sex or the other, but their genitals have not been altered, there were parents back then who simply wouldn't do the surgery even if they were told to by the medical community.
This person cannot reproduce, but lives a full life with many friends.
Such people are still people.
They still have a right to their autonomy as a human being.

Lady Heather - posted on 01/27/2011

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I remember seeing something on TV once that said "abnormal" genitalia occurs in about 1% of the population. I decided to look it up to be sure:
http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency

It's much more common than you might think and something any of us might have to deal with one day.

29 Comments

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Bonnie - posted on 01/27/2011

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In this sense I agree it should be up to the child to decide who they would like to be.

Krista - posted on 01/27/2011

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Ah, yes, but Krista....and you know I ♥ you....if at 13 they can say, "Mom, I want to be circumcised" and they'e aware of the ramifications of such, and go though with it....then they should be just as able to understand that the 'body altering' face tattoo has the same life-long consequences.

Damn it woman, you're actually making me think about my stance, here. :P

You do make a damn good point. At what point DO you decide that your kids are mature enough to make those irrevocable decisions about their bodies? Would I let a 5 year old get circumcised if he said that's what he wanted? Probably not, because I don't think a kid that age is capable of truly understanding that this procedure DOES carry a risk of death. Would I let a 16-year old do it? Probably, but only after making sure that he's talked to multiple doctors and has really researched the pros and cons and is absolutely positive about his decision.

And yeah, I've probably made myself a hypocrite after all my talk about "not my body, not my choice". I guess I can live with that, though. I just don't think I COULD live with permanently altering my kid's body, realizing later that I did the wrong thing, and not being able to do a damn thing to fix what I've done. Being inconsistent and being a hypocrite is a small price to pay for not having to live with that kind of regret, the way I see it.

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she already makes decisions for herself. my job is to teach her to make educated decisions.

Every brain develops differently, so no magic number exists to show when they can make life altering or body altering decisions.

~Jennifer - posted on 01/27/2011

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When does she have the 'mental capability'?
Is there a specific age at which you will allow your child to make all decisions governing her person?

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if my daughter wanted some body mod, she can do it...its her body her choice...when she has the mental capability to make that decision. i never have that right to make the decision for her.

~Jennifer - posted on 01/27/2011

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Ah, yes, but Krista....and you know I ♥ you....if at 13 they can say, "Mom, I want to be circumcised" and they'e aware of the ramifications of such, and go though with it....then they should be just as able to understand that the 'body altering' face tattoo has the same life-long consequences.
You can't fix it 'after' it's done.
right?

(like I said...love ya♥)

Krista - posted on 01/27/2011

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There's a difference though, Jenn.

If I forbid my 13 year old from getting a tattoo, or from having scarification done, that is not an irrevocable decision on my part. I can change my mind. And even if I do not, once he is an adult, he can make his own decision and can get a tattoo or scars, or implant horns if he wants to.

But if I get a part of my kid's body removed or altered, that IS irrevocable. It's done, and there'd be no takey-backsies. I could change my mind, but it'd be too damn late by that point. And if he chooses differently as an adult, he can't do a damn thing about it, because I made that decision for him.

~Jennifer - posted on 01/27/2011

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Rebecca...
Personally...i'm waiting for a few years from now when one of the 'not your body , not your choice' kids comes home @ 13 with a half-face tattoo, because they found someone that would do it.....or some random scarification ...maybe some horns implanted into their forehead.....and then I'd like a video of mom saying "well, it's your body, you can do what you want with it".....

But that's years away.
(i'm patient)
=)

Mrs. - posted on 01/27/2011

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Just waiting to see how this is used as a way to somehow hammer through the pro non circ message some more. I'll just sit back and read...

Krista - posted on 01/27/2011

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If there are no medical consequences to waiting, then I would absolutely wait until my child has expressed a clear gender identity, and then would ask them if they want their genitals to match their gender.

If waiting is not feasible for some reason or another, I would consult with multiple doctors to examine my child and to do hormonal testing to see if we can pinpoint what my child's gender actually is. It's definitely something I would do a ton of homework on, and would NOT take lightly.

JuLeah - posted on 01/27/2011

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This law will make the parents stop and think, maybe hear a different side of the argument. I think it is a good idea.

Tara - posted on 01/27/2011

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No problem Jenn, I was just looking through some articles about the reasons some parents and doctors give for their reasons to modify a baby for cosmetic reasons.
So yes, it's good to have the other side... I have no problem as I said with medically necessary surgeries.

~Jennifer - posted on 01/27/2011

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Yes, but due to degeneration of specific body parts, there may not be 'time' to 'wait and see' in some cases.
Sorry, I just thought that the 'pick and choose' information of the site you copied the OP from leaned more towards legality of surgical procedure(s) rather than showing the reasons why it may or may not have to occur....so I added a site to help the members of the forum understand why the procedures would be under consideration in the first place.
Now it's a 2 sided argument.
I'm sure you don't mind having more information on which to base your argument(s)....right?
=)

Tara - posted on 01/27/2011

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My OP was and is about cosmetic surgery, surgery because the parents want it, so the child will look normal and fit in.
It was not about cases where there will be long term negative health effects from leaving these infants as they were born until age of consent or until there is sufficient information to correctly assign a sex to that child.
What makes us male and female are not just our parts, it has a lot to do with our brains.
There have been far too many cases of children who were "corrected" and assigned a gender at birth only to live their lives feeling different and confused and worse shamed by the feelings they might have for the opposite same sex etc. etc.
It is essentially a lie committed on a child's psyche. We are basically saying "physical appearance is what makes you who are, not what goes on inside your mind, within your psyche."

Sharon - posted on 01/27/2011

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I was on my way to forming an answer when I read shaunas' reply - UM DAMN GIRL! WTF is in your water???

~Jennifer - posted on 01/27/2011

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There's a lot more information on the website than just this^



it's mainly a call for legislative reform and / or possibility of legal actions against medical professionals who have participated in surgical procedures on the children, however the first strategy was more of an 'informed consent' decision....that got left out of the OP.



This link from the AAP also explains reasons for and against medical intervention in the cases of these children:

http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi...



I just thought that (in the spirit of informed debate) it might help with the conversation to know the possible health concerns of 'waiting for the child to choose'.

=)



carry on.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 01/27/2011

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It should be up to the child...I think. But how difficult of a choice that would be...but then again how hard of a life that person would live being the wrong sex. I would fear for my child being tortured in school about this. What if they identify with both sexes? Has that ever happened?

Shauna - posted on 01/27/2011

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My sister worked in a hospital here in nebraska *a small town* and the 2 yrs she worked there she saw 3 babies born this way. The drs basically said "what do you want a boy or a girl"

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