Friday, June 28, 2013

Anticircumcision comes from a place of emotion?

Post: "Atheists that claim circumcision for boys is comparable to genital mutilation on girls are not coming from a place of fact, but rather emotion. I can understand the emotion.. but I recommend that atheists also embrace science and rational thought" (followed by a link to a news release of the AAP's policy statement).

My comment:

Let's go back to the original post, saying that the "claim circumcision for boys is comparable to genital mutilation on girls are not coming from a place of fact, but rather emotion"


Consent is a fact. Surgery without consent is battery. Now, parents are entitled to provide consent but they need to keep the child's best interest in their mind at all time. Consenting to non-therapeutic procedures is ethically troublesome, because it is unknown if the procedure is in the child's best interest or not, in other words if the child had the rational capacity to decide, would he/she undergo the procedure or not.

Circumcision is an elective surgery. It does not treat a disease or condition. Its preventive benefits are not that great for the AAP to recommend it, and if you read the technical report you will find out that those benefits come with the price of complications. Copying straight from page 14 of the report:

It is difficult to establish how many male
circumcisions it would take to prevent
a case of penile cancer, and at what
cost economically and physically. One
study with good evidence estimates that
based on having to do 909 circumcisions
to prevent 1 penile cancer event,
2 complications would be expected for
every penile cancer event avoided.121
However, another study with fair
evidence estimates that more than
322 000 newborn circumcisions are required
to prevent 1 penile cancer event
per year.122 This would translate into
644 complications per cancer event, by
using the most favorable rate of complications,
including rare but significant
complications.123 The clinical value
of the modest risk reduction from circumcision
for a rare cancer is difficult
to measure against the potential for
complications from the procedure. In
addition, these findings are likely to
decrease with increasing rates of HPV
vaccination in the United States.

So you see, to prevent ONE case of penile cancer, you are going to have to perform between 909 to 322,000 circumcisions and cause complications to an estimated 2 to 644 boys. That is hardly proportional!

So given the small preventive value of the procedure and the potential for complications, it is problematic to force it upon a child, who in case of complications is the person who will have to carry the consequences.

What's common between male circumcision and female circumcision is that both procedures are non-essential and both are forced upon minors who do not have the capacity to consent or to reject the procedure.

People think that what's bad about female circ. is that it's performed in the bushes, with unsterile equipment. This is true for some cases, but this is not the reason it's bad. In fact, female circumcision of minors used to be performed in the United States by doctors up to the 50s, and it is still performed in clinics in Malaysia and Indonesia. Does that make it right? No. It doesn't.

So what is wrong about it? Is it the removal of the clitoris? Well, that's not how they do it in Malaysia or Indonesia either, where they scrap the surface of the clitoris or pinch the clitoral hood. And yet that's not right to do and would be illegal in the United States.

So what is wrong about female circumcision?

Circumcision (both of males and females) can be done in many ways, on babies or on older children, with sterile equipment or in the bush or in the grandpa's kitchen table (as was the case of the son of Andrew Freedman, one of the members of the AAP task force on circumcision!)

So what is wrong then? The violation of consent. The violation of a right to self-determination. The removal of healthy normal erogenous tissue without the permission of the person.

And that, my friend, is a fact.

Sure there are decisions that parents take, such as vaccinations, religion, etc. Those decisions have one difference: they don't cut part of the body of a child. Trying to make it a parental right is an appeal to emotion and lack of rationality.

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