Benefits Of Circumcision Outweigh Risks
The benefis of the procedure include lower risks of acquiring HIV, genital herpes, human papilloma virus and syphilis as well as lower risk of penile cancer. Circumcision also reduces the risk of cervical cancer in female sexual partners as well as lowering the rate of urinary tract infections during the first year of life. The AAP stopped short of universally recommending circumcision, however.
“Ultimately, this is a decision that parents will have to make,” said Dr. Susan Blank, chair of the task force that wrote the AAP policy statement. “Parents are entitled to medically accurate and non-biased information about circumcision, and they should weigh this medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical and cultural beliefs.”
This is the AAP's first policy change regarding circumcision since 1999 when it stated it could find no evidence for or against the procedure.
Circumcision rates have declines in the United States in recent years but half of baby boys still undergo the procedure, according to the Associated Press. A recent study estimated the decline in circumcision rates would cost $4 billion in health care related to increased illness and infections. Medicaid has 18 states which do not cover circumcision because of short-term cost-saving strategies, according to NPR.
Circumcision has come under fire in recent years for being a merely cosmetic procedure or a form of mutilation. Last year, activists in San Francisco placed a circumcision ban on the ballot before a judge knocked the measure off the ballot. This June, a court in Germany ruled that infant circumcision qualifies as "illegal bodily harm."
Georgeanne Chapin, who is a member of the anti-circumcision group Intact America, ehoes the mutilation argument.
"We have no right as parents or as physicians or adults to strap them down and chop off a normal part of their body. To do that is a human rights violation and an ethical travesty," Chapin said.
Comparisons abound between circumcision and female genital mutilation but experts call those comparisons misleading.
Jewish and Muslim groups have proclaimed a "cricumcision crisis." According to a report by the Jewish People Policy Institute, recent efforts to ban circumcision are part of a "wider cultural backlash" which "attacks Islam and Judaism head on."
"Anything that chips away at the religious freedom of Jews will serve as a green light for the haters to become more violent," JNS columnist Jonathan Tobin said.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has endorsed the AAP's policy. The CDC, which participated in the review, is considering changing its policy, as well.
Read the story at the Associated Press.
Reach Executive Producer Dawn Megli here.