Last Thursday morning, drivers motoring down NW 40th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale might have eyeballed an odd sight outside of Plantation Hospital: three protesters waving signs.
Anyone close enough to make out the fine print would have been surprised to see the group wasn't hawking pro-life slogans or any of the other usual street-corner activism. This message? Keep that scalpel away from Junior's wang.
The group marching the pavement was South Florida Intactivists Unite. Since forming in October, the anti-circumcision outfit has made up for small numbers by energetically blitzing local hospitals and baby events all over the area.
To date they've demonstrated at Memorial West Hospital in Pembroke Pines and Miami's Jackson Memorial. The group also bravely posted up right inside unfriendly territory when they hosted a booth at the Miami Children's Expo on December 1.
Their basic pitch is that many of the health benefits trumpeted regarding circumcision are bunk, and that babies are best left with the extra kin, or "intact" as the movement calls it, according to Veronica Sebrell, one of the group's organizers.
Because it runs counter to years of conventional wisdom -- not to mention it's a topic hot-wired with emotion due to health and religious considerations -- the theory doesn't sit well with everyone, as we reported in a cover story last February.
Nonetheless, in recent years the anti-snip argument has been upgraded from heterodoxy to serious option. Circumcision rates have actual begun to dip. San Francisco almost put a circumcision ban on the 2011 ballot. And Sebrell says most moms-to-be who brush against the her pitch are receptive.
"I was particularly surprised at the expo about how many people were approaching us and how many people had already chosen to leave their children intact."
She adds: "The only place where I've encountered people being aggressive has been online."
Intactivistism isn't like to peter out in South Florida any time soon (pun completely intended). Sebrell and her counterparts are planning more demonstrations in the next few weeks. Beyond hospitals and baby shows, they're mapping out other locations where the word can effectively reach new parents.
"We were discussing doing one at a nearby Babies R Us," she says.
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