Keep The Law
Out Of It

In response to the state of California's attempts to place an infant circumcision ban on the ballot, the American Medical Association recently adopted a policy that opposes outright bans on infant circumcision. We weigh in on what this means and talked to a few mothers about how they feel about circumcision in general. Curious? Read on!

circumcision ban

The decision to circumcise your baby is a very personal and sometimes a very intense one. With recommendations coming from medical personnel, your friends, your family and the media, it can be hard to make the choice. Other parents have made up their minds long before birth and sometimes, even pregnancy. However, many agree that keeping the law out of the mix is the best thing to do.

"I think that banning circumcision would do more harm than good"

Vyky, mother of one child and expecting another, said, "I think legislation will just alienate people. I think it's important to raise awareness as to why routine infant circumcision isn't necessary or recommended instead of just blanket banning it. It's important to change the way people think about issues instead of just taking away their options."

Heather, from California, agrees. "I think that banning it would do more harm than good. I think educating parents and pediatricians on the lack of benefits would open a lot of eyes and do the most good."

Other official recommendations

The Center for Disease Control's recommendations may be changing to include routine circumcision based on studies out of Africa that indicate that adult circumcised males have a lesser chance of contracting and spreading HIV. It is suspect, however, to apply African data to American children. Brittney, mother of one, was appalled at this consideration. She shared, "I don't understand why the CDC would even consider recommending what, in most cases, is nothing but a cosmetic procedure on an unconsenting minor."

The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated that while the benefits have been documented, they do not recommend routine neonatal circumcision. Their policy states, "In circumstances in which there are potential benefits and risks, yet the procedure is not essential to the child's current well-being, parents should determine what is in the best interest of the child."

A turning tide

The tide is turning, however, on what modern parents are choosing when their boys are born. In the 1970s, approximately 90 percent of boys were circumcised. The circumcision rate fell slightly in the 1980s and was at around 60 percent throughout the 1990s. The most recent data keeps circumcision in the majority, but barely -- around 55 percent of boys were circumcised in 2005.

"Babies should be left alone -- we don't cook them for the better part of a year only to change them right out the gate"

Many insurance companies, such as state-funded Medicaid programs, have dropped the procedure from their coverage. Others have relegated it to the surgery category, with the same co-pays or coinsurance applied.

As Heather puts it, "I chose not to circumcise my first son and will not circumcise my second, either. My husband was very against leaving him intact at first, but will now tell you that babies should be left alone, we don't cook them for the better part of a year only to change them right out the gate."

While the topic has the potential for fireworks and the benefits of the procedure are questionable when compared to what benefits the child will lose if circumcised, it can be said that there is a case for keeping the law out of it.

tell us:

How do you feel about laws banning circumcision?

More on circumcision

To circumcise or not?
The circumcision debate
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Tags: circumcision

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Comments on "Circumcision bans opposed by the American Medical Association"

david December 01, 2011 | 7:25 PM

It's simply unecessary in western society where condom use is most prevelent as well as the biggest weapon against HIV. The african study doesn't translate to the US in actual practice. It's simply unnecessary.

Ron Low November 28, 2011 | 8:42 AM

The AMA says keep the law out of it (which is easy to say when you're violating people's rights for profit and the law has yet to protect them). But even if all the proposed bans had gone through, the practice of medicine would NOT have been affected at all. The age-restrictions only applied to non-therapeutic foreskin amputations.

Locuta November 21, 2011 | 6:12 PM

"it can be said that there is a case for keeping the law out of it." While that can be said, it is a case that is utterly without merit. The only people who want to "keep the law out of it" are those who have a vested interest in continuing this insane, ually sadistic form of child abuse. It can be said that there is a case for keeping the law from telling you that you cannot beat your children or have with them if you want to or it is part of your "cultural tradition." It is a case that no rational or mentally healthy person would accept. It is the same for genital cutting on children.

Sigrun November 21, 2011 | 2:26 PM

Shouldn't the law protect people from unnecessary traumatization? Newborns even feel pain more intensely than older children and adults. I agree with the Children's Ombudman here in Norway, where I live (and where no Christians circumcise their children), who wants boys to decide themselves when they are teenagers.

Tom Tobin November 21, 2011 | 12:08 PM

Apart from the ethical violations inherent in male infant circumcision (and there are many), this article contains false information. By the estimate of one CDC researcher Charbel E. El Bcheraoui, the US circumcision rate has dropped to 32.5%, as published in the New York Times. http://www.nytimes/2010/08/17/health/research/17circ.html Name another surgery which removes healthy body parts from a non-consenting person, "just in case" they might maybe develop a problem at some time in the future.

Dr. Christopher L. Guest MD,FRCPC November 21, 2011 | 11:16 AM

The non-therapeutic amputation of healthy genital tissue from non-consenting children is medically unethical, it is a violation of human rights, it is irrational and unscientific and, as physicians, we have a moral obligation to oppose this cruel practice and properly educate the public. The foreskin is richly innervated erogenous tissue and should not be amputated without medical urgency or unless the benefit significantly outweighs the potential for harm. Virtually all medical associations in the world agree there is no reasonable benefit to non-therapeutic circumcision, yet some physicians continue to encourage this practice by inciting absurd concerns over cleanliness and soliciting spurious medical benefits, ALL of which have been either debunked or shown to be disproportionate to the risk associated with the actual procedure. Circumcision was only medicalized during the Victorian era as a misguided attempt to curb masturbation, which was thought to be harmful. It was used as a means of decreasing ual pleasure and disrupting the normal gliding mechanism of the penis. Circumcision is a disgrace to our profession. It is steeped in superstition and ignorance and cultural transference. Physicians should refuse to participate in this unnecessary and immoral practice. Bronze age religious blood rituals should never trump rational scientific judgment, contemporary medical ethics and the universal right to bodily integrity. Our ethical obligation is to the boy, not to conspire with the cultural or religious traditions of the parents – the boy is the patient, not the parents. Put down the scalpels. His body, his decision.

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