Shockingly, most male infants in the USA still undergo circumcision. Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics put out a report that infant circumcision is beneficial to infant boys for several reasons, including preventing penile cancer. But infants do not get penile cancer. The arguments were flawed and biased according to a group of doctors representing medical organizations outside the USA.
Here are some quotes from the commentary:
“Seen from the outside, cultural bias reflecting the normality of nontherapeutic male circumcision in the United States seems obvious, and the report’s conclusions are different from those reached by physicians in other parts of the Western world, including Europe, Canada, and Australia”
There may also be a monetary bias: “The AAP does not recommend routine circumcision of all infant boys as a public health measure but asserts that the benefits of the procedure are sufficient to warrant third-party payment.”
From the conclusion of the commentary:
“The AAP report lacks a serious discussion of the central ethical dilemma with, on one side, parents’ right to act in the best interest of the child on the basis of cultural, religious, and health-related beliefs and wishes and, on the other side, infant boys’ basic right to physical integrity in the absence of compelling reasons for surgery. Physical integrity is one of the most fundamental and inalienable rights a child has. Physicians and their professional organizations have a professional duty to protect this right, irrespective of the gender of the child.”
You can see the full commentary, Cultural Bias in the AAP's 2012 Technical Report and Policy Statement on Male Circumcision, here.
When to circumcise your infant (warning: tongue in cheek, graphic and harsh):
- When you want to prevent urinary tract infections—of course you might want to also cut off your child’s fingers to prevent him from playing videogames, or blind him to prevent television watching. You see, there are much less severe ways to prevent urinary tract infections—like breasfeeding (see here), or using antibiotics or probiotics, But why not go extreme?
- When you don’t want to learn about how best to clean or NOT clean the genital area. The body naturally cleanses itself, but if parents use soap or other agents on genital areas, it can undermine the balance of healthy body bacteria, leading to infection (see here). Who wants to know all this?
- When you think your infant will be sexually active. Although there is mostly contrary evidence, there is some evidence (from poorly designed/executed studies) that circumcision in men leads to less sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV. If you don’t think your infant will be sexually active, then you might as well wait and let the boy make his own decision. He will have to weigh whether or not he wants to adversely affect his sexual life, which circumcision is known to do (Fink et al, 2002; Frisch et al., 2011; Kim & Pang, 2007).
- When you want to prevent the remotest chance of penile cancer as an adult—chances of which are similar to dying of a snake bite. Of course, it might be better to cut off his penis entirely because you can still get penile cancer if you have one. While you are at it, you might as well cut off your daughter’s breast buds to prevent breast cancer. Isn’t prevention a good thing?
- When you want to greatly increase the chances of your child’s psychological, social and sexual turmoil and unhappiness (see here). That’s what parenting is about, right?
More posts on infant circumcision:
Part 1: Myths about Circumcision You Likely Believe
Part 2: More Circumcision Myths You May Believe: Hygiene and STDs
Part 3: Circumcision: Social, Sexual, Psychological Realities
Part 4: Circumcision Ethics and Economics
Part 5: What Is the Greatest Danger for an Uncircumcised Boy?
Part 6: Why Continue to Harm Boys from Ignorance of Male Anatomy?
Part 7: Pro-Circumcision for Infants Culturally Biased, Not Scientific Say Authorities
Fink KS, Carson CC, DeVellis RF. Adult circumcision outcomes study: effect on erectile function, penile sensitivity, sexual activity and satisfaction. J Urol. 2002;167(5):2113–2116
Frisch M, Lindholm M, Grønbæk M. Male circumcision and sexual function in men and women: a survey-based, cross-sectional study in Denmark. Int J Epidemiol.2011;40(5):1367–1381
Kim D, Pang MG. The effect of male circumcision on sexuality. BJU Int. 2007;99(3): 619–622