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!
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.
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.
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.
How do you feel about laws banning circumcision?