Over a century ago, circumcision was promoted as a way to discourage masturbation, and it was thought of as clean and hygienic. This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics announced updated circumcision guidelines which suggest that its health benefits outweigh the risks. U.S. circumcision rates for newborn boys have fallen to about 55 percent from a high of close to 80 percent in the ’70s.[View the story “Reactions to New Circumcision Guidelines” on Storify]
Reactions to New Circumcision Guidelines
Circumcision is in the news, again. This time its a professional group, specifically The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), who has reignited the debate by changing its policy to one that states the health benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks.
Storified by · Wed, Aug 29 2012 15:23:48
Reactions on Forum and KQED social media was ample and varied. For some, circumcision is a straight forward issue:
No Disease, No Consent, No Injury = NO SURGERY!Greta Wischmann
Circumcision is cruel.Sarah Smith Gumataotao
Condoms are great prevention, but (news flash!) no one uses them. If they did we wouldn’t have STDs in epidemic proportions. This whole thing is nuts. As circumcision has not been proven to harm a man, why not just let the parents decide? And doing it at birth is 100 times better than later. This is all just crazy.Jennifer Akfirat Ringewald
Do unto others as you would have done to you. Would you want someone to strap you down and cut any part of you away with out your consent nor pain meds? I highly doubt it. Leave the choice to the owner of the body. Very simple!!!!Kim Davis
Listeners offered their take on the health benefits many use to make the case for circumcision:
I agree with Monika. Reduces transmission of STIs? So does a condom. Reduces risk of penile cancer? It is rare to begin with, and the last time I checked, no one advocates amputating an infant’s healthy body parts to prevent cancer. Cosmetic reasons? Again, no one supports other cosmetic surgeries on infants. Let the man decide when he is old enough to choose for himself. If it is too painful for a grown man to endure, why on earth would you subject a baby to it–because the baby is smaller and unable to explain how much it hurts?Jen Hall Kubach
@KQEDForum what "health benefits" would merit female genital mutilation? Its a human rights issue, not aHygiene or prophylactic one. #i2Zack Zack
Several users took a follow-the-money approach, suggesting that circumcision is tied to money that surgeons and doctors make from the procedure.
Not what European doctors and medical groups have been saying. They criciticise this report as being too American. I suspect they are right and that it is the medical profession who are afraid of losing a steady source of income on newborns plus the possibility of too many doctors with jewish roots looking for making their traditions appear medically founded.Carol Rogers
In other news, removing all teeth can reduce incidents of tooth decay. Amputating all women’s breasts can prevent breast cancer. Genital mutilation is a barbaric practice that has more basis in superstition than in medicine. As a European I am not circumcised and I have yet to hear one complaint about how my penis looks, not that I would listen to them anyway since it’s my body and my decision. Women have no say in this. None. Zip. Nada. Why is anyone surprised that the only developed country where this is widespread is also the only developed country where health care is considered a business?Eamonn Gormley
Reflecting the recent international news related to circumcision, many listeners brought up practices in other countries and cultures:
Nope, not buying the Academy’s logic … then why in so many other countries is it only done for religious reasons, and not the so-called "health benefits" ?Monika Renate Hege
wondering if there is a connection to the american puritan roots, mothers shying away from telling/showing their little boys how to pull back foreskin to wash themselves to keep cleanAstrid Johannes
In Europe we do not circumcize our children and they are perfectly healthy ! And we have less HIV or problems like this than in USA.Nicolas Maubert
Another listener brought up the possibility of a child being transgendered and the possibility of sexual reassignment surgery.
There may be STD advantages to circumcision, but avoidance of disease does not trump the right of boys to remain intact until age 18, when they should be able to make their own decision. Something else seemingly never mentioned is the fact that should a child turn out to be transgendered, an intact foreskin provides for a better outcome when constructing a neovagina. For this reason alone, circumcision should be banned for children.Kim Stevens
Guests: Dean Edell, radio host, ophthalmologist and surgeon Doug Diekema, member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Circumcision Task Force, physician, director of education for the Center for Pediatric Bioethics at Seattle Children's Hospital and professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine