Monday, August 20, 2012

What is the deal with circumcision?

AMA - American Medical Association - Article from 2012

"The rise of the anti-circumcision groups on the Internet is another influence," he said. "That's a voice that's very loud and very prevalent on the blogs. Every news article on circumcision that appears prompts hundreds of comments and blog responses, and parents read those things."

CDC - Center for Disease Control and Prevention 2008

Some persons have raised ethical objections to asking parents to make decisions about elective surgery during infancy, particularly when it is done primarily to protect against risks of HIV and STDs that don’t occur until young adulthood, but other ethicists have found it an appropriate parental proxy decision.

AAP - American Academy of Pediatrics (1999)

Parents and physicians each have an ethical duty to the child to attempt to secure the child's best interest and well-being.However, it is often uncertain as to what is in the best interest of any individual patient. In cases such as the decision to perform a circumcision in the neonatal period when there are potential benefits and risks and the procedure is not essential to the child's current well-being, it should be the parents who determine what is in the best interest of the child.

Some forms of FGC are less extensive than the newborn male circumcision commonly performed in the West

The American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement on newborn male circumcision expresses respect for parental decision-making and acknowledges the legitimacy of including cultural, religious, and ethnic traditions when making the choice of whether to surgically alter a male infant's genitals. Of course, parental decision-making is not without limits, and pediatricians must always resist decisions that are likely to cause harm to children. Most forms of FGC are decidedly harmful, and pediatricians should decline to perform them, even in the absence of any legal constraints. However, the ritual nick suggested by some pediatricians is not physically harmful and is much less extensive than routine newborn male genital cutting. There is reason to believe that offering such a compromise may build trust between hospitals and immigrant communities, save some girls from undergoing disfiguring and life-threatening procedures in their native countries, and play a role in the eventual eradication of FGC. It might be more effective if federal and state laws enabled pediatricians to reach out to families by offering a ritual nick as a possible compromise to avoid greater harm.

AAFP - American Academy of Family Physicians (2002)

While routine circumcision is widely practiced, the small medical benefits of circumcision lead many to consider routine circumcision to be a cosmetic procedure. This leads to questions regarding medical ethics and whether and how to present to a parent a balanced discussion of the relative benefits and harms of the procedure.

ACOG - American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (2001)

The statement affirms ACOG's agreement with and support of the 1999 American Academy of Pediatrics Circumcision Policy Statement. From this it is clear that ACOG cannot and does not recommend elective non-therapeutic circumcision of infant boys for medical reasons or for any other reason.


  1. why is your blog sub-title "benefits vs risks" of circumcision? the damages foreskin amputation causes (which includes "loss of foreskin") aren't risks, they happen on purpose. risks makes it sound like you could be circumcised and it would only benefit you or not cause any harm. it's impossible. losing the foreskin is a disadvantage in and of itself. there are unintended risks associated with the procedure, but major loss of sensation, loss of half of the penile skin, loss of the right to genital integrity, is intended and happens in 100% of cases. and since this is a humans rights issue, talking of "benefits" is like listing the benefits of FGM, of beating someone up or of having someone's arm amputated without their consent. if anything, it should be "alleged benefits, evident disadvantages and associated risks" or even more accurately "the lack of benefits and the damages of infant circumcision". i don't mean to be rude, it just annoys me direly.

  2. Good point. I agree with you. I changed it to " benefits, risks and harms". Thank you.